If you’re moving overseas, or a long distance within the U.S., you may want to ship your vehicle. In many cases, shipping your car can be less expensive than driving it to your destination. A professional auto transport company can move your vehicle for you, saving wear and tear on your car and saving you the effort of driving.
But how can you be sure your car will be safe from damage or theft while in the custody of the transport company? This is where auto transport insurance comes in. Auto transport insurance won’t keep your car from harm, but it will give you peace of mind of knowing that if something happens to your car on the way to your destination, the damage or loss will be covered by the insurance carrier.
If you’re one of the five million Americans who move across states or internationally each year and are planning to ship your car, here’s what you need to know about auto transport insurance.
What Is Auto Transport Insurance?
Auto transport insurance is a supplemental policy you buy to obtain additional coverage from the auto transport company. The policy covers dents, scratches, broken lights or windows, stolen DVD player, and any other damage your vehicle might sustain while being loaded, transported, or unloaded.
Note that transport insurance covers just the car, not any items inside. Before you drop off your vehicle at the transport company, remove any valuable items from it. This includes the trunk and glove compartment. Really go through it and take out anything that could be stolen. This means your CD collection, your leather jacket and brand-new running shoes, loose change, and your automatic tire inflator. Remove the face of your stereo. Nothing may happen to your personal items. But if something turns up missing at the other end, you may have to cover the loss yourself.
Doesn’t Regular Auto Insurance Cover This?
Your auto insurance coverage for your vehicle covers accidents, vandalism, theft, fire, hail damage, and other threats, while your car is parked or being driven. It typically won’t cover your vehicle when it’s being shipped. Be sure to check your auto policy or with your insurance company about coverages and exclusions.
Does the Transport Company Already Have Insurance?
By law, transport companies are required to carry insurance that covers the cargo being shipped, including your car. When shipping your vehicle, ask to see a copy of the transport company’s proof of insurance and ensure it’s still valid. You certainly don’t want to be stuck with a large repair bill after transport because the company didn’t have active insurance.
However, the company’s insurance carrier will assign a value to your vehicle, and it may be much lower than your car’s actual value, especially if you have upgrades.
Also, the insurance may not cover the actual cost of any damage. For many auto transport companies, the insurance policy will cover $350,000 in damage, depending on the state. This amount is divided among all of the vehicles being transported. So if 16 cars are being transported, and all are damaged, you will get only 1/16 of the coverage amount.
When Do I Need Auto Transport Insurance?
You may consider purchasing auto transport insurance if you have a high-end vehicle or an antique or one with many upgrades, making it worth more than the company’s standard liability insurance coverage. You may also want to buy auto transport insurance if you desire the peace of mind that comes with knowing your vehicle is fully covered in case of theft or damage. Moving can be expensive as it is. You may not want an additional bill from an auto body repair company after you move.
It also matters whether your vehicle will be transported in an open-air or enclosed carrier. Enclosed carriers are designed for high-end cars and less susceptible to damage and theft.
If you’re not sure whether you need auto transport insurance, your auto insurance company may be able to help by reviewing your current coverages with you.
How Do I Buy Auto Transport Insurance?
You can buy a policy through the transport company. Be sure to review the policy so you know what is covered and for how much. With most insurance policies, there are exclusions for adverse weather, terrorism, civil unrest and “acts of God” like hurricanes and earthquakes. Also, review the process for filing a claim for damage to your vehicle during transport. Keep the policy with your other moving documents, as you may need it in case you file a claim.
How Does Auto Transport Insurance Work?
When you drop off your vehicle with the transport company, the driver will inspect the car and note any preexisting damage. This prevents customers from filing claims against the company for damage that was already there. You will want to accompany the driver while inspecting the vehicle. You might also consider taking photos of the car before it’s loaded, so you have proof of its condition.
Upon arrival, the transport company will inspect the vehicle again. It will also provide a bill of lading form. Review the condition of your car carefully and thoroughly before signing this form. Record any damage to the exterior, interior, engine, undercarriage, paint, or other parts of the car that wasn’t there originally. You will not be able to seek reimbursement if you’ve signed the bill of lading and no damage was noted. Consider taking pictures of any damage you find.
If you need to file a claim for damage to your car, let the transport company know and follow the insurance carrier’s process for filing claims. If you have before and after pictures, these will serve as proof to the insurance carrier that the damage occurred during transport.
Broker Insurance Doesn’t Cover Your Car
Many people find transport companies through a broker. The broker acts as a matchmaker between customers and transport companies. The broker’s job is to find a suitable company to transport your car within a specific time and price range.
Some brokers offer auto transport insurance, to attract customers or to supplement the transport company’s insurance. But ultimately, the broker isn’t responsible for transporting your car safely, the transport company is. The broker can’t be held responsible if the transport company doesn’t perform well or damages your vehicle.
Your car is probably one of your most valuable possessions. So, you will want to do what you can to ensure that if anything happens to it, you can resolve the situation smoothly. By choosing the right auto transport insurance, you can rest assured your car will be covered while it’s out of your hands.
We hope you found this post, What to Know About Auto Transport Insurance, useful. Be sure to check out our post, The Benefits of Shipping Your Car When Moving Long Distances for more great information.
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