What Should I Do If My Car is Damaged During Transport?
Car Transport Damage Information
What’s the worst thing that can happen during your car, truck, or SUV shipping? Damage!
Even the most experienced and capable vehicle transporters have to deal with it from time to time. It could be from an accident that is the fault of another driver. Inclement weather could throw a curveball, and your vehicle could have hail damage. Windblown debris can pelt your car. Or maybe you just failed to research enough, and you picked one of the poor auto transporters out there.
So, what should you do if your car is damaged during transport?
Protect Yourself from the Start
Dealing with vehicle damage starts before the damage ever happens.
Before you even hand the keys over to the carrier, you should thoroughly document the condition of your vehicle. Check external parts for functional or cosmetic issues and interior parts for damage, and ensure all windows and sunroofs are closed. Check moving parts for functional issues – windshield wipers, tires and wheels, headlights, and other systems. Make notes of any issues, and take pictures of your vehicle from several angles.
The driver will also conduct their own inspection of your vehicle before loading it. They will want to ensure its condition, moveable, and the appropriate fit for their trailer. Don’t be offended if the driver seems to be overly thorough! In fact, if the driver only seems to make a quick, passing inspection, you should be worried, as they should be taking a deeper look at their cargo before they load it. They may also take shots of existing damage to your vehicle, so there is proof that it existed before loading.
After all of this, you and the driver may have to hash out your notes and make sure they agree. After that, you’ll both need to sign off on a Bill of Lading – sometimes called a Condition Report – that is, an agreement regarding the vehicle’s condition upon pick-up. It essentially is the transfer of responsibility from you to the driver.
On the Road
Known damage – accidents or other incidents – that occur in transit should be communicated by the transport service to you, the owner, as soon as they happen.
We’re talking about the carrier getting caught up in a tornado, hurricane, or other severe, damage-causing weather events. Also, reportable accidents and incidents, like multi-vehicle collisions or incidents such as a carrier hitting a low-clearance bridge.
A responsible vehicle transport team will communicate these issues immediately to the owners so that there are no surprises on delivery.
Delivery Inspection is Critical!
When the transport arrives at the agreed drop-off location, the next step is to look at the car once it is unloaded and the keys are in your hands. At this point, it is parked and stationary, and the carrier driver will no longer need to be in it, move it, or touch it.
Both of you will then go over it thoroughly, checking previously noted damage to make sure nothing has gotten worse and looking for any new damage. In particular, keep an eye on the sides of the vehicles exposed to the elements and get scratched during loading and unloading. Take a look under the bumper – make sure there are no scratches or dents from improper ramp usage during loading and unloading. Check over the roof, where a hydraulic deck would accidentally drop and dent or scratch the top of your vehicle. The roof, hood, and trunk could also be the spots where fluids from a top deck vehicle could end up on your vehicle, or that debris could fall on to.
Both you and the driver should be doing the inspection, checking everything against a copy of the BOL from the beginning of the trip. Ensure no new damage on the BOL – if you sign the BOL without noting potential new damage, you will have no standing for a claim. Don’t take delivery of your vehicle until everything is noted and the driver acknowledges the potential claim.
If damage did occur in transit, it would be on the carrier to make the appropriate moves to resolve any problems. In many cases, the carrier will be interested in paying a damage claim immediately, out of pocket. This helps resolve the customer’s problem while avoiding an insurance claim that could be cheaper right away for the carrier but leads them to have higher long-term insurance costs. In this case, the matter will be closed after you accept the carrier paying the claim – you’ll likely have to sign off that you won’t pursue any further claims on this transaction.
In the rare case, the carrier decides to put it off onto insurance, which is rare for minor damage, you’ll need to make sure you have your notes from pick-up and your BOL to prove that the damage wasn’t there when the car, truck, or SUV was handed over to the driver. The signed BOL is documentation that both you and the driver noted the damage on delivery. After that, it is a matter of the insurance company settling the claim.
I Didn’t Notice It!
Maybe you felt rushed to sign off on the BOL, or maybe you took delivery at night or in poor weather conditions and hurried through your inspection. It’s been a few days, or even a week or two. Suddenly, you’re noticing damage you don’t think you noticed before.
Unfortunately, you’re a bit out of luck. Once you sign the BOL, any further damage found is not the responsibility of the carrier. It can’t be demonstrated to have happened on the trip – it could be from a parking lot tap, a shopping cart bouncing off, or a neighbor who isn’t that good at parking. The carrier is not responsible if it cannot be proven to be a direct result of transport.
By working with a highly reputable and insured auto transport team like Number 1 Auto Transport, you can reduce the likelihood of having to deal with any damage to your car, truck, or SUV. We know how much you value your vehicle – which is why we work with only the best carriers on the road, with the best reputations for delivering vehicles safe and damage-free! We put forth the effort to ensure a great experience for you, from beginning to end, getting your vehicle to its next stop without damage or defects. Reach out today to find out about working with our team!