Auto Transport FAQ: How Do I Know I Have A Realistic Car Shipping Quote?

CarsArrive | Auto shipping , Moving , Relocation

One of the first steps in choosing a company to transport your vehicle is getting a quote. Requesting a quote is almost painless; most auto shipping companies offer free quote services on their websites. Just enter your vehicle year, make and model, where your vehicle will be picked up and where it’s to be dropped off and you’ll know an approximate cost within seconds.

But how reliable is that quote? What else should be taken into account?

Getting a quote is only one step in choosing a reliable vehicle transport company. The cheapest company isn’t necessarily the most reliable, but then again, a higher quote doesn’t guarantee quality either. Let’s take a look at how you can use your quote to determine which company will actually charge you what they’ve quoted on the day your vehicle is delivered.

A Real Car Shipping Scenario

We walked through the process with a family moving from Austin, Texas to Denver, Colorado. They own a 2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring and want to move their vehicle using an open transport. We requested quotes from ten companies, with an average quote coming to $761; the high was over $1300.

Evaluating the Quotes and Companies

The next step was to look at each of the companies, from highest to lowest, to see exactly what kind of service they are offering. There are some major factors that can differentiate one quote from another. Depending on your specific needs, these factors may or may not be important.

First, is the obvious: the price. If scheduling and insurance coverage isn’t important to you, going with the lowest price might work for you. For instance, if you are shipping a project car that you are planning to restore, you may not care about how long it takes to arrive or if it gets a few scrapes and scratches during transit. You will however, want to ensure that the car shipper is reputable and has some history to make sure that your car will eventually get to you. The last thing you would want to have happen is to have the car “disappear” while in transit and be unable to reach the shipping company. Additionally, you will want to make sure that the rate given is the final rate and that there aren’t any hidden add-on’s or additional fees.

Second, is the scheduling. If you are moving, it will be critical that the car is picked up when needed so there is no interference with your travel schedule. You may also want to keep the car at origin right up until moving day, so having the convenience of a specific pick up date might be important to you. In many cases, especially with cheaper quotes, pick up is scheduled as a “window” of anywhere from 3 days to multiple weeks. Often a large pick up window can be problematic especially if you are moving or if you have purchased a car and need to have it retrieved from the seller in a short period of time.

The other important factor in scheduling is transit time. Depending upon your individual situation, the time it will take to get the vehicle to destination may be important. Some auto shippers may give a delivery “window” of 3 to 14 days after pick up. You will need to be available during that time to receive your car whenever the carrier arrives in your destination city. Also, some companies offer different transit time options in which you can pay additional fees for faster service. Additionally, some shippers provide a local service for final delivery so that you can receive your vehicle on a specific day rather than having to leave your schedule open for multiple days.

The last important factor is the insurance (called “valuation coverage”) while it is in transit. It’s important to find out exactly what type of damages are covered and what the deductible is. Some shippers may only cover the vehicle for a total loss or impose a large deductible to reduce their liability costs. It’s also important to make sure that the maximum amount of coverage matches the value of the vehicle being shipped. Only having $30,000 in coverage for a $50,000 car will create a big problem in the event of a total loss.

Does the company ship the car itself or is it a broker?

One way to tell is by looking at how many trucks the company owns itself. If the company is a brokerage, it means they will be farming you move out to another company to perform the actual transport of the car. Often with brokers, the cost to ship your vehicle could vary from the quote you’ve received as they cannot provide a concrete rate until they find a carrier to move the vehicle. Other brokers will honor their quoted rate even if it means they take a loss. Keep in mind that when using a broker, you are trusting the broker to select the company that will ship your car. Make sure to ask a lot of questions about what the broker does to screen the carriers they use. If the broker isn’t properly screening their carriers, there is a possibility your car could end up on a sub-par carrier’s truck. Also ask about who will be responsible for handling a potential claim. Does the broker handle claims resolution in-house or will they push you off to deal with the carrier to get reimbursement? A service-focused broker handles claims in-house to ensure the customer gets fair and efficient treatment.

When you work directly with a carrier, you may be limitation of their fleet size. While a large carrier company may have a few hundred trucks, they still can’t match the enormous stable of carriers accessible by a broker. During peak moving periods, the carrier may simply not have enough trucks to handle their volume which can result in delays. If working with a carrier, it’s important to ask about guaranteed transit times if timing is important.  

Remember – an online quote is only a starting point

There is much more work to be done. Once you’ve chosen your top three quotes, sit down with each company. Take the opportunity to walk through the details of each quote, so you can confirm that each company is quoting the same services and providing a set of services that meet your specific needs. Let us show you how CarsArrive stacks up against the competition. You will not be disappointed.

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