How to Tell if an Auto Transport Company is a Broker?
Types of Car Shipping Companies: Brokers and Carriers
When speaking to an auto transport company about shipping your car, it’s essential to understand the different types of companies and the different car shipping services each provides. The most common companies you will interact with are “Brokers” and “Carriers.” They are very difficult to tell apart at first glance of their website or services. Often even when speaking with each company and getting their auto transport quotes you will not be able to tell the difference without knowing what to look for and the right questions to ask. Below we explain a quick way to determine the type of auto shipping company you are dealing with and determine if they are a broker or carrier.
What is an Auto Transport Carrier?
A car shipping company that is a carrier have their own fleet of trucks, car carriers, and truck drivers. They use this fleet exclusively to ship their customer’s cars. When shipping with a carrier, you are dealing directly with the company shipping your vehicle, making it easy to stay up to date throughout the process. You have one number to call whenever you want an update, have a question or want to check-in. You also have one company to deal with if something goes wrong during the vehicle shipping and you need to file a claim.
Another benefit of dealing with a carrier is you are able to get all the proper information on the company including their insurance certificate before booking your order. Auto transport companies have varying ranges of cargo insurance to cover your vehicle ranging from $50,000 to $2 million. Intercity Lines has $2 Million worth of cargo insurance protecting the rarest of vehicles during transport.
What is an Auto Transport Broker?
An auto transport broker is a company that books orders to ship people’s cars and motorcycles. They then give these orders to an auto transport carrier that owns their equipment and transports the car using their drivers and equipment. Brokers receive a commission from the car carriers for providing them with car shipment orders. They get this commission from finding a carrier that will ship your car for less than they are charging you. This incentivizes the auto transport broker to find the cheapest carrier to ship your car.
Brokers may have pictures of trucks and truck drivers on their website, but that does not mean they own them! If you do ship your car with a broker, it’s important to realize that they are not the ones transporting your vehicle. Brokers typically don’t provide the carrier’s information to prevent you from calling them directly. You likely won’t find out the carrier shipping your car until they are at your driveway for pick up or delivery.
Not having the car carrier’s information prevents you from researching that company and learning about their reviews, safety record, and other crucial information like insurance. As mentioned above, all carriers have varying levels of insurance to protect your vehicle, so it’s important to know the company you’re shipping with has the proper insurance limits for you. If you do not have this information and do not discuss it with the broker, the carrier that does ship your car may not have enough insurance to protect your car leaving you with a financial burden if damage was done to your car.
You could save money by going directly to the carrier, cutting out the brokerage firm’s trade commission. This may require a few more phone calls and price quotes, but it gives you control over who to trust shipping your car. And if something does go wrong in transport, you will have to deal with both the broker and carrier during the claim process. It is crucial to get the carrier’s information before the transport is complete when shipping with an auto shipper that is a broker.
How to Determine if an Auto Transport Company is a Broker?
The easiest way to determine if an auto transport company is a broker or a carrier is to go the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website. At that link you find a “Company Snapshot” search box, where you can search trucking companies by their USDOT number, MC/MX number, or Name. FMCSA is a federal website and organization that provides this information, so you know it is accurate.
Once you search for the car shipping company, the first line of the table says “Entity Type.” Next to this will either say “CARRIER” or “BROKER.” The entity type is the type of auto transport company they are. Please note, some companies broker and are a carrier. If this is the case their company will likely be listed twice in the search results, one profile saying broker the other carrier. In some cases, they may use a different name for their Brokerage to prevent customers from associating it with their carrier business.
If you are unable to reach that website quickly when trying to find an auto transport company you can ask each car shipper directly if they are a broker or carrier. Just simply ask them if they are a carrier or a broker! If their answer is unclear ask if they own their own trucks and use them exclusively to transport cars? Or do they ship cars with other companies? You can confirm this at pick up or delivery by looking closely at the driver’s tractor and finding the company name.
If the company name is difficult to spot, all commercial trucks must have their DOT number listed in plain sight on the tractor. You can then use this DOT # to search for the company at the FMCSA link listed above. The “LEGAL NAME” or “DBA NAME” should match the car shipping company you booked your vehicle with.
Intercity Lines is Not a Broker
Intercity Lines is proud to be an auto transport carrier. We have a fleet of 30 trucks and employ the most experienced truck drivers in the industry for our team of elite car haulers. Since 1980, Intercity Lines has been a carrier shipping the cars we are trusted with by our clients with our trucks and our drivers. You can try looking us up with the above link and next to our “Entity Type:” you will see “CARRIER”!
As a family-owned company filled with car enthusiasts, we understand what an automobile or motorcycle may mean to you. If you’re looking to deal directly with the company and the drivers that will transport your car you can trust Intercity Lines. The experienced team at Intercity Lines make it easy with our excellent customer service and white glove car transport service giving you peace of mind whenever you transport a car! Request a quote today!