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Auto Transport Bill Of Lading Explained: What Is It?
If you’ve been researching car shippers or looking for information about auto transport companies, you’ve no doubt come across the term “bill of lading,” also referred by the shorthand BoL. It may not always be clear what this document is used for or why it’s important, which is what we’ll set out to explain in this post.
In general terms, a bill of lading is a document that accompanies any kind of cargo shipment. The information listed on it is typically some combination of the following:
- Name & information of shipper
- Name & info of receiving party
- Date of loading
- Description of cargo (including dimensions, weight, quantity, etc.)
- Special instructions
This is the basic information listed on a generic BoL, though it can vary slightly since there are different types of bills of lading. For example, a shipment by boat might require a different type of bill than transport by truck or rail.
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The Importance Of The Bill Of Lading As A Transport Document
As it relates to shipping a vehicle, the bill of lading serves a very important role. To put it in simple terms, the BoL acts as both your contract with the shipping company, as well as your receipt for their services. The importance of a contract is fairly obvious, but you may be wondering why you would need a receipt for having a car shipped.
Just like any other type of product or service, the receipt is your proof of purchase. If the terms of the contract (BoL) were not met by the shipper, then you have documented proof that this is the case. For the most part, this only comes up in the rare instances in which a shipper causes some type of damage to the vehicle. These cases are settled by the shippers insurance most often, but in the cases where there is a dispute—or proof is required by the insurance company—having the bill of lading is essential.
If there are any existing damages on a vehicle that is being shipped, no matter how minor, it should also be noted on the BoL. Scratches, dents, chipped paint—all of it should be documented and we suggest customers take photos as well. Once the car is delivered, you can check its condition against what was listed on the BoL before shipment to make sure no damages have occurred.