OK folks, we’ve finally made it to the end of my three part series on Auto Shipping Insurance. In part 1 we covered the basics of what you can expect to occur when arranging for the shipment of your vehicle and In part 2 we discussed the things you need to look for when signing your pre pickup inspection sheet. It is now time to have a discussion involving some of the potential issues that can occur during transport and what the umbrella of coverage typically offered by car shipping companies is. (Please refer to Blog Entry Part 1 of 3 for legal disclaimer)
In my last entry I referenced the term “Driver Neglect and Equipment Failure”. Unless otherwise stated, this statement completely encompasses the limits of liability a car shipping company has when it comes to shipping damage. Let’s talk about what this means and discuss a few examples. If a driver accidentally lowers one of the shipping ramps onto your car, it would be classified as driver neglect. If a driver doesn’t allow for adequate ground clearance when loading or unloading your vehicle causing it to sustain damage, it would be classified as driver neglect. If a hydraulic line breaks on the car shipping carrier and damages the paint on your vehicle or even worse, causes one of the ramps on the car transporter to come down and strike your car, that would be a case of equipment failure. I cannot stress to you enough how rare of an occurrence this is and if you took a close look at the way car transport trailers are manufactured you will see that there are locations on support beams for pins that act as a security feature to keep ramps from crushing your car should this type of rare event to happen. If your car is incorrectly secured to the auto transport trailer with chains over a component of the suspension or drivetrain causing it to sustain damage, you guessed it, driver neglect. Most vehicles come with factory tow hook locations on the vehicle frame that can be used to secure it to the auto transporter. Why do they have factory tow hook locations? Because the most common means of transporting new vehicles from the manufacturing plant to the dealerships that sell them is via open carrier! The most common means of securing vehicles that do not have factory tow hook locations is by using wheel straps. Another example of driver neglect would be driving under low hanging tree branches causing the limbs to scratch the top of your vehicle. This is a perfect example of why auto transporters will ask you to meet them at a large parking lot instead of coming directly to your location. Transporters have numerous things they have to pay attention to in order to safely transport your vehicle, things that people normally take for granted, even having to be careful driving under trees and bridges. These are a few examples of the types of damage I’ve come across in a small percentage of the moves I’ve handled. I emphasize the words “small percentage”. Let’s say the average price to ship a vehicle is around $800.00. How long do you think an auto transport company is going to be in business if they’re constantly costing themselves hundreds or even thousands of dollars in damage to the cars they are shipping? Not very long, and if you’ve been unfortunate enough recently to have body or paint repairs done to your vehicle you know exactly how quickly those costs stack up! The men and women that work in the auto shipping industry are professionals, they have to be. The auto shippers who are not are quickly weeded out.
OK, we’ve gone over a myriad of examples of damages that are covered by the auto shippers insurance, now let’s go over some scenarios that would not be covered. Rock chips, both in the paint or the windshield. A rock flying up from the road and striking your car is an uncontrollable event, also known as “An Act of God”, and would not be covered by the auto transporters insurance. Hail damage is another rare but uncovered event. Leaking fluids would be another circumstance that is out of the driver’s control. I’m telling you folks I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen broken windshields due to bird strikes. I’ve seen exploded windows due to extreme heat to extreme cold with large fluctuations in elevation. (Author’s Note: A simple way to keep this from happening is to just barely leave a window cracked on your vehicle) I’ve even investigated claims where a driver found an entire family of stowaways in one of his vehicles after having travelled over 1,500 miles. These events are all out of the control of the driver and would not be covered under their insurance. As far as theft or vandalism is concerned, I can recall two vehicles out of 75,000+ that were stolen. That number would have been three, but one vehicle that was thought to have been stolen was shipped by train and was found after about six weeks when the boxcar it was in was finally located. The only example of vandalism I can recall is a vehicle that got shot up by a BB Gun at some point during transit. That’s a crazy story that involves an eighty five year old woman, I’ll never forget that one! There were also a couple of vehicles that got keyed during transport but that’s about the only examples of vandalism I came across while I was shipping cars.
Let’s recap. Look high, look low. This is where transport damage most commonly occurs. If your vehicle is too dirty to inspect, notate that on your Bill of Lading! There is nothing more disheartening than having a customer sign off on an inspection sheet stating “no carrier damage” only to wash their car the next day and discover dents in their roof. Most car shipping companies are going to be up front with you in the rare event that they damage your vehicle. Sometimes it can happen and they won’t even know they’ve done anything. Car Shipping is a game of inches and very close tolerances so make sure you always do a thorough inspection! That inspection sheet is not only a legal document, it’s also your greatest means of protection should damage occur.