Q: What's the difference between a broker and a carrier?
A carrier operates trucks. They range from a single truck owner-operator to a larger outfit that might also broker out shipments, as they only would have a limited number of trucks as well.
A broker uses a large network of car carriers serving the whole country, usually through a load board. Brokers also verify the DOT information, licensing and cargo insurance of the carrier transporting your vehicle. They charge a broker fee on top of what the carrier actually requires to do the shipment for there services.
Q: What's the difference between an open and enclosed carrier?
An open carrier transporting cross-country can fit 7 to 10 cars on their trailer. Enclosed anywhere from 4 to 8. Shorter routes will see more variation in the equipment used with smaller trailers and trucks.
Price is 25-50% more for an enclosed carrier. Higher priced equipment, less cars per trailer, higher insurance and less available carriers all contribute to the price difference.
Transport times are generally the same, however getting your wanted dates can be hard as the number of enclosed carriers is less than 1 in 10 compared to open. If time is a factor and your car is not in one of the categories recommended for enclosed, consider an open carrier.
Q: What should I expect in terms of pricing?
Length and weight of your car, gas prices, miles from origin to destination, time of the year, volume of cars looking to be shipped are some of the factors that account for the price quote you will receive for shipping your vehicle. If you are using a broker, their broker fee would add to the final price. If possible, avoid major holidays, since those cause price increases and delays. Most drivers want to spend that time at home too, not driving cross country.
Q: What is the usual transport time?
Cross country moves take about 7 to 10 days. So figure, coast to the middle of the country about half that and so on. The carrier should be able to provide you with an estimated date for the delivery of the vehicle. Traffic, weather and other delays can affect transport and delivery times. Build as much flexibility into your planning as possible.
Q: What payment options will I have?
Brokers and their fees are almost always paid by credit card. Avoid ones that want to charge you before dispatching your order to a carrier. You should have the company name, number and date of pick up before any broker charges their fee.
Carriers on the other hand, most commonly are paid on delivery. You will see the term COD (Cash on Delivery) when talking about carrier payment. This is industry wide and not out of the ordinary. Most carriers are ok with any cash or cash equivalent (cashiers check, certified check or money order). It is best to ask them before hand however if they have any preferred methods of payment.
If you prefer to pay by credit card or another form of payment it is strongly advised to discuss that with your carrier before the car is loaded and the driver is looking to load the car.
Q: Will my vehicle be covered by insurance?
All carriers are required by law to maintain cargo insurance. Ask for their DOT number and insurance information. It will cover your vehicle from damage that might incur during transport and handling of your car.