Transporting your vehicle across country may be unfamiliar territory to you, so it is only natural to ask yourself the troublesome question of “What happens if my vehicle is damaged while being transported?” Don’t let this common concern discourage you. Keep in mind, statistically; auto transport damage is unlikely when working with a reputable and experienced auto transport company. However, despite this fact accidents are still a possibility. So protect your vehicle by being knowledgeable on your auto transport company’s insurance coverage, take precautions to reduce the possibility of damage, and know how to properly document your damages so there are no issues when filing an auto transport insurance claim.
- Although often considered tedious, reading through transport Terms and Conditions is completely to your advantage because it details what a carrier is and is not liable for during transport. Reputable auto transporters will have this information ready and available for you, so take the time to read the fine print.
- Help take transport damage out of the equation by properly preparing your vehicle for travel. Remove and secure any loose parts or low hanging after-market accessories. If possible, remove antennas and any valuable personal belongings, anything fragile and any automatic toll devices. If you have a high value or antique vehicle, consider the option of an enclosed transport. It may be more costly, but they also provide an elevated level of protection.
- “Before pictures” are very helpful. If you have the means to do so, take clear pictures or video of your vehicle at pickup. Picture proof of pre-transport condition can make all the difference in the event an insurance claim is needed.
- The Bill of Lading, also referred to as the BOL, is your best friend when it comes to the success of an auto transport insurance claim. The BOL is the most important piece of evidence used by insurance companies to determine liability because it reflects the vehicle’s condition at pickup and again at delivery. At pick up, it is the trucker’s responsibility to inspect the external condition of your vehicle and document any noticeable deficiencies on the BOL. It is your responsibility to carefully review the trucker’s notations of pre-existing damage and ensure its accuracy before you sign the BOL and release the vehicle. The trucker should provide you a copy of the pickup BOL. If one isn’t offered, ask. Click here to learn more and see a sample BOL.
- Re-inspection at delivery is crucial to any potential auto transport insurance claim, so once again the BOL comes into play. Be prepared to properly inspect your vehicle no matter if its surface is dirty, or if it is raining or snowing outside, as long as it is safe to do so. Technically there is no time limit on inspecting vehicles at delivery, so be thorough in your inspection, but be reasonable and mindful of trucker’s tight schedules. Carefully look over your vehicle, especially the more unnoticeable areas such as your roof or lower bumpers. Record any new damage or condition exceptions on the BOL before signing it. Be sure to get a copy of the BOL again at delivery. Meaning, you should end up with two BOLs, one from the pickup and one from the delivery. If damages are found, do not withhold trucker payment. By law, transport tariffs must be paid in full at delivery. Nonpayment can result in the trucker taking legal action against you and it prevents your ability to file an auto transport insurance claim.
- Prepare to file an insurance claim by taking pictures of the transport damages, gather your pickup and delivery Bill of Ladings, and contact the auto transport company or brokerage you are working with immediately by calling, sending an email, or both. Insurance companies vary in their policy on time limitations for filing claims, so avoid delaying the report of any transport issues or damages.
Take control of your auto transport experience. There is nothing you can do once the damage is done but there is plenty you can do to ensure that you and your vehicle are taken care of in the event there are bumps along the road.
About Kathy R.
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