How To Research Auto Transport Brokers Before Shipping Your Car With Them
Before signing up with an auto transport broker, it’s important to understand the difference between an auto transport broker and an auto transport carrier or hauler. A carrier is the company or individual that moves your vehicle–something we can all understand pretty easily. A broker, however, requires more explanation since it’s an essential, and often misunderstood, part of the auto transport business.
At its simplest, a broker is someone that coordinates a transaction by connecting a customer who needs a service to a company that provides it. Certain industries–auto transport among them–rely heavily on brokers to help facilitate business exchanges between customers and the providers who offer the service. Other common examples of businesses that tend to use brokers frequently include real estate, insurance, and finance. Essentially, the broker facilitates the contract between a customer and a business.
The benefit of using a broker is that it opens up more choices in terms of cost and services to the customer, whereas dealing with a carrier will necessarily limit you to the services, staffing, and delivery schedules they have available. Brokers can typically find a cheaper price or particular service more easily since they’re not limited to the services of just one company.
Another benefit of using a broker is the time that you can save by doing so. If you wanted to check quotes between several companies, it can take time to sit down and call individual auto transport carriers to get a quote from each one. A broker can send you numerous quotes at one time so you can look them over and determine which company suits your needs best.
(*It should be noted that there are companies that operate as both a broker and a carrier within the auto transport industry.)
If you are unsure whether a company is a broker, a carrier or even both, ask upfront to see. Sometimes, a carrier is also a broker and if their trucks are filled and they cannot personally accommodate your vehicle, they will often reach out to other companies who can schedule a pickup quicker.
A Few Facts About Auto Transport Brokers
Auto transport brokers have a great deal of experience working as the “middle man” between customers and auto transport carriers. They know the companies that are good as well as the ones who have bad reputations. Unlike a person trying to do a search on their own without assistance, the broker already has the information and they can guide you to the best transport carrier companies out there.
Searching on your own can take up a lot of valuable time, and most people simply don’t have hours to spend speaking to individual companies or verifying information from various companies before they hire someone. Besides the time involved in searching for a carrier on your own, you may not be able to find the lower rates that a broker can find.
Brokers often have access to thousands of carriers in an instance, and they are better equipped to find a safe, dependable carrier at a fraction of the cost you might find on your own.
Another thing to be concerned about is that a broker can schedule all areas of your auto transport. Sometimes, a carrier can only transport within a restricted area of the map, and from a specific point, they will need to transfer the vehicle to another company to continue the transport. A broker will be able to work with all carriers, as well as terminals for storage if necessary, available in instances such as this and they can go ahead and get the car scheduled for delivery using more than one company. It can be extremely time consuming to have to search for more than one company to make a delivery across the U.S. or overseas.
Bonded Auto Transport Brokers – An Important Detail
Before shipping your car with an auto transport broker, it’s extremely important to make sure your are dealing with a broker that is fully bonded. Bonding refers to insurance coverage for the customer that allows for compensation in the event that the carrier (also known as the principal) does not fulfill their end of the contract.
Hypothetically speaking, if something happens to your car during transport and the company goes out of business, a broker would be able to guarantee you proper compensation due to the consumer protections provided by the surety bond.
A good auto transport broker should be able to take care of all the details for you. This includes finding a carrier that can meet your requirements for speed and shipping time frame, a quality safety record, excellent customer service, exact type of transport required and an affordable total cost of delivery.
Where To Find Information On Auto Transport Brokers
With so many auto shipping options available online, it’s difficult to tell what companies are carriers and what companies are brokers, much less finding quality business information about either. Here are some of the best available online resources for researching auto transport brokers, either from the federal departments that oversee the industry or consumer watchdog groups.
Resources For Researching Brokers
- Consumer Advisory – Consumer advisory from the USDOT regarding auto transport companies, carriers and brokers.
- Registration Requirements – Requirements for freight brokers and carriers, as established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
- Company Search – Look up companies to see if they’re a broker, a carrier or both. You can search by name, motor carrier license number or USDOT number.
- Consumer Affairs – Still a great resource to look up any type of business, including auto transport. They have company reviews, customer complaints and general industry information that’s helpful to anyone shipping an auto.
- Better Business Bureau – Including ratings on businesses of all kinds, the BBB is a great launching point to start your research from. Not only will you find business ratings and general information, but there’s also customer reviews and complaint history.
Written By:Joe Webster
Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.
With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.