UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.
We strive to help you make confident insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We partner with top insurance providers. This doesn't influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
There are plenty of reasons to ship your car from one place to another. Whether you’re moving across the country or buying a car from overseas, you may need to ship a car. Do you need insurance when shipping a car? How does car shipping insurance work? Today, we’re going to answer all your questions.
Car Shipping Services Are Required to Have Insurance
First, the United States Department of Transportation mandates that all auto transport services carry liability and cargo insurance. Most car shipping companies will insure your vehicle for up to $50,000.
Talk to your car shipping service and make sure you understand how their insurance works. Make sure you understand any restrictions, for example, and any requirements.
All vehicle shipping companies in the United States need to be registered with the Department of Transport. Any shipping company transporting vehicles across state lines also needs to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Each shipping company receives a registration number from these organizations. You can check a shipping company’s registration number to verify they are legitimate. Avoid shipping your car with a company that is not registered with the appropriate federal agencies.
Ask for a Copy of the Shipping Company’s Insurance Certificate
As mentioned above, any vehicle shipping company is required to have sufficient insurance coverage when transporting vehicles across the United States.
Before shipping a vehicle with a company, ask for a copy of the company’s insurance certificate. Make sure you understand exactly what coverage your vehicle will have while it’s being moved.
It’s also important to ask questions like: does the shipping company have enough insurance to cover every vehicle during transport? What happens if every vehicle is damaged during a cross-country trip? Does the shipping company have sufficient coverage to reimburse every vehicle owner?
Ask your Broker for Additional Coverage
Most car shipping companies insure your vehicle for up to $50,000. However, not all car shipping companies match this amount. Some companies have less insurance coverage. Other companies have too many restrictions in place.
In this situation, you may wish to explore additional shipping coverage from your own insurance company.
Talk to your insurance broker or your insurance company and ask about car shipping insurance. In some cases, your vehicle already has sufficient insurance from both your personal policy and from the shipping company. In other cases, your carrier may be able to recommend short-term insurance to cover your car while it’s being shipped.
Other Tips for Vehicle Shipping Insurance
Get Everything in Writing
Shady shipping companies may promise one thing but fail to deliver. That’s why it’s important to ask for everything in writing.
Before you agree to the terms of an auto shipping service, get any special agreements or considerations in writing. This will ensure your vehicle is fully covered for the duration of the trip. It prevents you from being surprised when your shipping company refuses to cover certain damages at the end of the trip.
Remove Loose Items from the Vehicle
You’ll want to remove any loose items from the interior of your vehicle during transit. This reduces the risk of damage (say, from a heavy object slamming against your windshield). However, it also reduces the chance of a break-in during the trip. Check your car for anything that could become airborne during transit. Make sure there are no loose items remaining.
Be On Hand for the Pre-Possession Inspection
The shipping company should inspect your vehicle prior to taking possession. An employee will conduct a thorough inspection of your vehicle and make note of any existing damage. Ideally, you’ll be on hand when the inspector performs this inspection. You may also wish to take pictures of your vehicle from every angle prior to dropping off your car with the shipping company.
Inspect the Vehicle Thoroughly Before Completing the Bill of Lading
Once your vehicle arrives in its destination, the owner will need to complete the Bill of Lading, a document that reports the condition of the vehicle at the time of delivery. It’s crucial that the owner conducts a thorough inspection of the vehicle before completing the Bill of Lading.
Inspect the usual spots on the vehicle – like the exterior and sides. Check the undercarriage. Start the car and determine if there are any signs of mechanical damage. Use a flashlight or cell phone light to illuminate any dark places on the vehicle that could be hiding damage. If you find any damage that wasn’t there before shipping, then it needs to be included on the Bill of Lading. Afterward, you can contact the shipping company to ask about reimbursement.
What Happens If the Shipping Company Fails to Reimburse Me?
Some shipping companies are less generous than others when it comes to damage reimbursement. If your shipping company fails to reimburse you for any damage incurred during transport, then you may wish to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation (if the vehicle was carried over state lines) or with your state’s department of transportation (if the vehicle was shipping in-state).
All shipping companies are required to be registered with the Department of Transportation. All shipping companies are also required to have insurance for any vehicles they are transporting. A reputable shipping company takes its job seriously while they have your vehicle – from the beginning of possession to the final delivery.
Typically, the shipping company’s insurance will cover any damages during transportation, and the costs of insurance are bundled into the shipping fee. However, you may want to contact your car insurance carrier to ask about additional insurance coverage – say, if your vehicle is worth more than $50,000 or if you want added coverage above and beyond the shipping company’s insurance.