When you are in need of auto transport, you will probably begin your search online. You might assume that all of the auto shipping companies are offering the same general service and choose whichever seems to have the best reviews. However, what you probably don’t know is whether or not you are dealing with a broker or a carrier. Before booking your shipment, it’s important to understand the different types of companies and the different services each provides. It can be very difficult to differentiate between brokers and carriers at first glance, so the following information will help you better understand the difference between the two and how to determine whether or not you are dealing with a broker or a carrier.
What is an Auto Transport Broker?
An auto transport broker takes a shipping order and finds an available carrier to actually transport the vehicle. Brokers, themselves, do not own the fleet of trucks that actually transport the vehicle. Rather, they work with a variety of carriers around the country that use their own drivers and equipment to find someone that is available to ship your car at the best possible price. In other words, the broker is responsible for coordinating the logistics of having your vehicle shipped from point A to point B.
There are several benefits to working with a broker over a carrier. For starters, brokers are more flexible since they aren’t tied to a single fleet. Rather, they can track down carriers with open spots that will be in your area and this can make for faster delivery times. In addition, if something happens to the truck carrying your car, a broker would be able to arrange to have your car picked up by another carrier with little to no delays. Brokers are also industry experts and will make sure to only use carriers that are properly licensed, registered, and insured. When working with a broker, you can be sure that your vehicle is being transported by a trusted and reputable carrier.
What is an Auto Transport Carrier?
In order to be a carrier, that means that the auto shipping company owns their own fleet of trucks and works exclusively with these trucks and drivers to deliver shipments. While it may seem easier to work directly with the driver and have one point of contact, carriers are not as flexible. For one, you have to work within the confines of that specific fleet of trucks so it could take longer to get your vehicle. Furthermore, if the truck carrying your vehicle breaks down, your shipment may be delayed since they don’t work in conjunction with other carriers.
How to Determine if an Auto Transport Company is a Broker?
The easiest way to determine if an auto transport company is a broker or carrier is to visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website. Here you can seach trucking companies by their USDOT number and since this is a federal website, you know the information is accurate. Next to the name of the shipping company you will see either “Carrier” or “Broker.” If you are having trouble accessing this information, you can also simply ask the company directly whether they are a carrier or broker. They should be able to tell you whether they exclusively use their own fleet of trucks (carrier) or whether they arrange for shipping with other companies (broker).
In most cases, brokers are a better option because they are able to access multiple carriers which can provide you with faster shipping and better prices. You will definitely find that availability and efficiency is better with brokers and they are also able to provide shipment with minimal delays. Just be sure to research any car shipping company thoroughly before booking. Customer reviews, research, and asking the right questions can make for a better experience and help you prevent unexpected hiccups along the way.
Frequently Asked Questions
Honest Answers to Your Car Shipping Questions
Yes, we always ask for your specific pickup and delivery addresses, if the carrier can get right to the addresses you provide, they will. If the addresses that you give us are not safely accessible for a Multi-car carrier, however, you will need to make arrangements with the driver to meet at a nearby location where the carrier can safely get in and out.
People do it all the time (rarely for free) but the official answer is no.
Not what you wanted to hear, we know, but that is the honest answer.
We are not licensed to broker the shipment of household goods and, likewise, no car carrier that operates in the USA is licensed to transport them from state to state either. Despite what you might be being told by other car shipping companies you may speak with.
Remember, at the end of the day we're all salespeople, and the true answer to this question is not a great selling point.
You will hear a lot of companies tell you that you can put up to 100 pounds of items in the trunk, but that is not entirely true. That fact is that items of that amount are fairly common and the department of transportation is probably not going to split hairs and fine the trucker over items of that amount, provided they are not over their weight limit. They could fine them, however, if they see a vehicle stuffed full of personal items so the car carrier will most likely try to negotiate something with you to cover themselves against any costs they could incur. It's not something we can build into your contract though.
We have a short and helpful video on this topic in our user videos.
Only in rare cases and car carriers will usually charge a premium to make it happen.
All dates given by car carriers are typically estimates and projections.
For this reason (and to keep your cost down) we ask that you build in some flexibility and give us the earliest possible date you would be WILLING to release the vehicle, even though it may not be your preferred date.
We'll put you in direct contact with your car carrier and the driver will also typically call you the afternoon or evening before your pick up and delivery (they won't just show up unannounced, and if they do we want to hear about it). However, car carriers are out on the road battling traffic, weather and any number of other factors that can and do throw them off of their pickup and delivery projections from time to time.
If the projected dates we give you come and you are unable to make contact with your carrier, please call our office immediately so that we may help resolve the situation.
The average transit time from pick up to delivery on any vehicle going coast to coast will average 7 to 10 days. From there you can figure your transit time based on how far your vehicle is traveling, i.e. from either coast to the Midwest might average 3-7 days.
Even better, we do not even ask for payment until we have you confirmed for pickup by a safe, reliable, fully insured, direct car carrier. If for any reason you do not ship your car with the carrier that we arrange for you, there is no fee.
The fees paid directly to the carrier however, (in most cases, their fees are not paid until your vehicle is delivered) are not directly controlled by us, so any requests for a refund of the carrier's portion would need to be addressed with the carrier directly.
Of course! And you are always backed by our Damage Free Guarantee policy.
Part of what you pay us for is to verify that the car carrier that we put you on is covered by the proper amount of insurance and that everything is up to date.
There is never any additional cost to you for this coverage, and their insurance is always primary.
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