Vehicle transport damage

Car Damaged in Shipping? Don’t Panic, Get Answers Here!

Discovering your vehicle has suffered damage in transit can be a major setback, whether you’re relocating, selling, or shipping a car for other reasons. In the vast landscape of auto transport, incidents of car damaged in transit, while not the norm, can occur, leaving vehicle owners in a dilemma of insurance claims and transport claims.

This is where TruckSpot Logistics steps in—not just as a platform for comparing auto transport rates but as a guide through the tumultuous aftermath of auto transport damage. This article is your roadmap to navigating vehicle transport damage, from initial assessment and documentation to filing a robust insurance claim and choosing the right transport service to minimize future risks.

With TruckSpot Logistics by your side, you’re not just shipping your car; you’re ensuring its safety every mile of the journey.

Spotted the Damage: What to Do Immediately
Filing a Transport Claim: Your Roadmap to Resolution
Insurance Coverage: Protecting Yourself and Your Vehicle
Prevention is Key: Choosing the Right Auto Transport Service

Spotted the Damage: What to Do Immediately

Discovering your car has been damaged in transit is a gut punch. But taking swift and deliberate action is crucial to protect your rights and ensure a smooth insurance claim (or transport claim) process. Here’s your step-by-step guide:

what to do when car damaged in transit
Document Everything:  Before signing anything, take extensive photos and videos of the damage.  Focus on new dents, scratches, and any functional issues (non-starting engine, odd sounds). Compare these to any pre-transport photos you have.
Scrutinize the Bill of Lading (BOL): This is your contract with the carrier. Note any new damage on the BOL before signing for receipt of your vehicle. If you sign without noting damage, it complicates your claim.
Notify the Carrier Immediately: Don’t delay. Contact the auto transport company right away, explain the damage, and request their instructions for filing a claim. Get everything in writing (email is fine).
Don’t Rush Repairs: Unless the damage is minor, hold off on fixing it before the carrier or their insurance company has assessed it.
Consider an Independent Assessment: If the damage is extensive or there’s a dispute with the carrier, seek an independent estimate from a reputable mechanic. This gives you additional leverage during the claim process.

Important Note: Most carriers have strict deadlines for filing damage claims. Check your contract or their website for the specific timeframe. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also provides guidelines on resolving freight loss and damage claims.

Filing a Transport Claim: Your Roadmap to Resolution

The claim process can seem daunting after the stress of discovering vehicle transport damage. Understanding the steps and your options gives you the best chance of a fair outcome.

Filing a Transport Claim
The Carrier’s Claim Forms: Most auto transport companies have specific forms for initiating a claim. Get these from the carrier directly, or look for them on their website. Fill the forms out completely and accurately.
Gather Your Evidence: Be prepared to submit the following with your claim form: photos and videos of the damage; pre-transport photos (if available); copy of the Bill of Lading (BOL) with your damage notes; repair estimates (get at least two); independent mechanic’s assessment (if applicable).
Follow the Timelines: Carriers have deadlines for filing claims – usually very short (e.g., 3-9 days).  Missing this can jeopardize your claim. Refer to your contract or the carrier’s website.
Communicate and Negotiate: Stay in touch with the carrier or their insurance company regarding your claim’s status. Be polite, but persistent. If the offered settlement seems low, negotiate with evidence backing up your repair costs.

What if the Carrier Denies Responsibility?

Unfortunately, disputes happen. If you’re confident the damage occurred during transport, you have options:

File a Complaint with the FMCSA:   If the carrier is dragging their feet or offering an unfair settlement, don’t hesitate to escalate the issue. You can file complaints with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Consult an Attorney: If the damage is substantial, an attorney specializing in transportation law can advise you on your legal rights.
Small Claims Court:  This can be an option for smaller claims, but consult a legal professional about your state’s specific procedures.

Insurance Claim: Protecting Yourself and Your Vehicle

Understanding the different types of insurance that might come into play with auto transport damage is key to ensuring you’re financially protected.

different types of insurance
Carrier’s Liability Insurance: BY LAW, all auto transport companies must carry a minimum level of liability insurance. This covers damage to your vehicle caused by the carrier’s negligence. However, limits and deductibles vary.
Your Personal Auto Insurance: Your policy might cover some incidents of damage during transit. Check the fine print or speak to your agent. This usually applies in specific situations (theft, fire outside the carrier’s control, etc.).
Supplemental Transport Insurance: For high-value vehicles or added peace of mind, some carriers offer additional coverage options for purchase. This can increase your overall compensation should damage occur.

Important Questions to Ask

Carrier’s Coverage: Ask about the carrier’s insurance limits and deductibles before booking transport.
Your Policy: Verify with your own insurer if they offer any coverage for transport-related damage.
Supplemental Options: Inquire about additional insurance through the carrier, especially if you are shipping a classic, exotic, or expensive vehicle.


Always get proof of the carrier’s insurance coverage in writing.
Read online reviews to see if past customers of the carrier had issues with insurance claims for damage.

Knowing your coverage options gives you greater control if your car is damaged in transit. Let me know if you’d like me to move on to the final section about preventing problems in the first place!

Prevention is Key: Choosing the Right Auto Transport Service

The best way to avoid the headache of vehicle transport damage is to minimize the risk from the outset. Choosing a reputable and well-insured carrier greatly increases your chances of a smooth transport experience.

The best way to avoid the headache of vehicle transport damage
Do Your Research: Don’t just go by the cheapest quote. Finding a trustworthy carrier can seem daunting. TruckSpot Logistics takes the guesswork out of it. See our article on identifying the best car shipping companies to get started.
Verify Insurance and Licensing:  Confirm the carrier’s insurance coverage and active operating license. Every carrier must have a USDOT number, which signifies they are licensed. Learn how to check a carrier’s USDOT number and verify their status.
Get it in Writing: A clear contract should outline the carrier’s responsibility, insurance details, the pre-transport inspection process, and expected costs. For a breakdown of auto transport costs, see our article on Understanding Auto Transport Billing.

Having your car damaged in transit is undeniably stressful. However,  knowing your rights, understanding insurance, and taking immediate action gives you the best possible chance of getting your vehicle repaired and back on the road.The choice of transport company plays a huge role in preventing damage. TruckSpot Logistics simplifies the selection process, empowering you to focus on moving your vehicle safely and without surprises.


Will shipping a high-value or classic car cost more?

Often, yes. Carriers may charge extra for shipping high-value vehicles, and you’ll likely want supplemental insurance to cover its full value. TruckSpot Logistics can help you find carriers specializing in luxury car transport.

What if the damage to my car isn’t immediately obvious?

Sometimes car damage in transit might be internal or only become apparent after you start driving.  Most carriers give you a short window after delivery (usually 24-48 hours) to report concealed damage. Inspect the car thoroughly and take it for a test drive as soon as possible.

Is there a standard amount insurance covers for vehicle transport damage?

Unfortunately not. The minimum liability coverage required by law is low. Carriers may offer additional levels of insurance, but the maximum payout varies widely. This is why it’s so important to ask about a carrier’s coverage limits before booking.

My car was already slightly damaged before shipping, will this affect my claim?

Yes. Pre-transport inspections are crucial for this reason. Carriers will note any existing damage on the Bill of Lading.  Failing to document this prior to transport makes it harder to prove any new damage was caused by them.

What if the carrier disputes my transport claim?

First, gather as much evidence as possible (photos, estimates, independent assessment). Try negotiating directly with the carrier’s insurer. If that fails, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Do all auto transport companies offer the same level of insurance coverage?

No! Federal minimums exist, but carriers can have additional coverage. That’s why it’s crucial to compare carriers on TruckSpot Logistics, we are paying attention to work with the best only.

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