Most of us have probably moved at least once during the lifetime. If you moved to another state, you either used U-Haul and drove your car with a trailer behind or paid a moving company to get your car shipped. A recent survey revealed that almost 63% of customers were extremely unsatisfied with the shipping process: some had delays with pick up or drop off; others had issues with a price change. It’s quite a large number, and we decided to prepare a guide that will help you ship your car smoothly and without a headache.
Cross country vehicle shipping is a service provided by both broker and carrier companies. The broker company negotiates the details with the customer and then looks for a carrier who can move a vehicle within the specific time frame. You are probably wondering why you cannot work with the carrier directly? That is quite easy: the thing is that carriers are usually small family-owned businesses that do not have enough staff to work with customers directly. So broker companies are like a bridge between the customer and a carrier. They look for a carrier, check their insurance coverage, schedule the dates and negotiate the best price for you.
The price for moving a vehicle depends on a bunch of factors such as:
- a vehicle’s size (sedan is cheaper to move since it is smaller than a crossover or a pickup truck and takes less space on the trailer);
- mileage (the longer route is, the more expensive it gets to transport the vehicle);
- time of the year (usually moving during winter holidays is much more expensive as well as moving to or from northern states during winter time);
- popular routes (some pick-up or drop-off locations are more popular than others. For example, Los Angeles, CA vs. Billings, MT).
When looking for a driver, brokers use the platform called Central Dispatch. It’s a national load board where they post loads mentioning pick up and drop off locations, dates when the vehicle is available, its make and model, and the price the customer is ready to pay. Carriers check the route they are going and choose the loads with the highest price first. If the price is too low, carriers may ask for a higher rate or simply pick up another load. To be honest, it’s like an auction for a spot on the trailer.
So the most important thing you have to remember is that all the prices you receive from the shipping companies are only estimates since all brokers are dependable on carriers, and the transportation business is constantly changing. The carrier that was shipping vehicles for a lower price may change his route unexpectedly. In this case, a good broker will try to negotiate with another carrier and offer you new options.
So how can you find a good broker?
First of all, if you want to avoid any surprises, make sure to avoid lowball prices – such companies are just trying to catch the attention, and once they have a driver, they get back to a customer with a double price.
Once you get rid of lowball quotes, there will be around half of the quotes left. Now you need to check the reviews and companies’ policies: whether the company asks for a total upfront payment or maybe a partial prepayment. We would highly recommend you to choose a company that does not charge anything until the vehicle is actually picked up. Therefore you don’t have to worry that once the broker receives your money, they won’t care about your order and do their best.
Once everything is set up, how can I get ready for moving?
When a deal with the driver is finalized, and you have his name and number on file, it’s high time to get your vehicle ready for shipping.
The most important thing you should remember about (especially if you are not planning to be at the pick-up location) is to make sure the car key is at the pickup. The driver needs the keys to load the car on the car hauler even if the vehicle is inoperable.
Another important thing is the Bill of Lading (BOL). It is the only document that proves that the vehicle was not damaged before (or had less damage). Make sure to inspect your car for any damages at the drop off location and request the BOL. If the vehicle was damaged, but you don’t have the BOL, the insurance company will reject your claim.
If you are shipping the vehicle from a private residence, you need to remove the vehicle’s loose parts, tags, and plates. Road cameras may take a picture of your vehicle by mistake and send you a toll road ticket. You can dispute it by showing your Bill of Lading, but it will take lots of time and will definitely add more problems.
And the last but not the least important thing when shipping a vehicle is to keep safety measures during COVID-19. You need to disinfect your vehicle before the pickup and after the drop off especially those parts the driver is likely to touch when driving the car on the trailer. When meeting the driver, make sure to wear a mask and gloves or at least wash your hands properly after meeting the driver.
These safety measures will help you, the carrier, and all other people he is moving the cars to stay healthy and safe.