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Car Shipping Damage Claims (Podcast)

Car Shipping Damage Claims (Podcast)

Mike Scenna from Preowned Auto Logistics talks with John Maher about damage claims from vehicles damaged during shipping. Although fewer than 1% of vehicles are damaged during the shipping process, they look at how damage claims are handled. They talk about how Preowned Auto Logistics minimizes the risk of damage and explain how the carrier’s insurance covers all damage costs. 

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Mike Scenna, sales manager at Preowned Auto Logistics, a car shipping and auto transport and logistics company in Massachusetts. Today our topic is car shipping damage claims. Welcome Mike.

Mike Scenna: Hey John, thanks for having me.

How Auto Shippers Keep Vehicles Safe

John: Sure. So Mike do most cars that are shipped, make it to their destination without being damaged?

Mike: Yeah, so of course, for the most part, the goal is to get these cars shipped without damage and we do a really good job of that. Our claims are very low considering the amount of cars we ship and that’s just from taking the right safety measures on the front end. We have kind of a really in-depth training process for our drivers and also a really in-depth vetting process for the networked carriers that we use, so we’ve found that taking the extra time on the front end and just being as safe as we can and going through training a little bit longer, maybe the most companies do, just helps in the long run to prevent damages. If you just take your time and make sure you’re doing things right, it saves a lot of headache than rushing through and ending up with more damages than we’d like to see.

Fewer Than 1% of Vehicles Are Damaged in Shipping

John: Right. So how often does damage occur and what types of accidents or damage might be most common? Is it damage while the cars are being driven on an open carrier or is it while they’re loading and unloading or that kind of thing?

Mike: Yeah. So if I had to throw a number on it, last time I checked, it’s really low. I’d say we’re looking at damages less than 1% of the time, so it’s not often. Of course it seems more because when those damages do occur, it kind of takes up a lot of everyone’s time and it’s a big process that people don’t want to go through. So yeah, it might seem like it happens a little often, but we do a lot to keep that low.

And as far as what happens and how it happens, I would say most of it is from loading and unloading. If you’ve seen how these trucks work, it’s a lot of different decks and different angles that the car is going up and over and you really got to take your time to make sure those decks are adjusted the proper way, especially a lot of these newer cars are on the lower side so you want to make sure you have all the right clearances and really take your time to prevent those things from happening.

I know you had said what types of trailers, of course the enclosed trailers, it’s a lot lower. Those trailers have, they’re designed for really easy loading and unloading. They have these really cool lift gates that keep the loading process very smooth and low so it’s a lot easier to do on those, but even on the open carries, again, it’s just as long as you’re taking your time and doing it right, you should be able to prevent that stuff from happening.

Filing Damage Claims Related to Vehicle Shipping

John: Right. So you do a lot of shipping, not just for individual people that are moving their cars, but also for dealerships, if you’re shipping a car for a dealership, what’s their process for filing a damage claim?

Mike: Yeah. So we do a ton of shipping for dealerships, as you said, and we actually, we have a very uniform process here. So our claims process for dealers and as well as for a private individuals is the same. And it starts with immediately, we provide the customer with a damage claim form, and that form is for them to fill out and just take a chance to describing exactly what happened to the vehicle and just get everything rolling on paper so we’re doing this the right way. And we spend a lot of time coaching, both of our dealerships and our private parties on doing this, how to do the condition report when you’re checking in the car, what to look for, where to look.

And so when we do get to this point that we like to prevent, of filing a damage claim, they understand how it works, and we’re able to execute it in a way that’s going to help get the car fixed, get it covered if the carrier is at fault and get it repaired as quickly as possible. These dealers, they’re getting these cars in to sell or getting it ready to get out on the lot to show to people, so a damage can really slow things down. So we want to keep this moving as quickly as possible and really not waste anyone’s time.

Benefits of Shipping Vehicles With Preowned Auto Logistics

John: Right. And what do you feel like sets PAL apart from other car shipping companies in terms of how you handle damage claims?

Mike: It’s absolutely our due diligence. We really take the time, again to educate the consumer what to do in order to prevent these. So what to do at pickup, taking as many pictures as possible, taking the time to go over the car with the carrier. I mean, we found a lot of damage claims are really false damage claims. People think that something happened during transport that you may have discovered on the inspection process. Tons of things happen to your car when it’s in parking lots, when it’s out on the sales lot, other car doors hitting it, weather, I mean anything could cause, there are tons of things that can cause little scratches and things and dents, so it’s important to really do a thorough inspection on the front end to make sure you’re aware of all of these little damages on the car prior to shipping it.

And same on the delivery end. Again, take your time, really go through the car, look at the pictures from pickup, work with the driver on inspecting it. And if you find anything you want to address it right then and there. And that’s the biggest thing with damage claims, you don’t want to notice it a week later and make a call, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to get something covered. And work with the carrier, then if you notice the damage right there on the front end.

Assessing Existing Damage Before Shipping Vehicles

John: Right. And does the truck driver when they come to pick up my car, do they kind of help me walk through the car and walk around it and point out things that might come up later? Like, hey, I noticed there’s this little dent on the front door. We want to make sure that we note that down so that you don’t think that that’s damaged on the other end, that kind of thing.

Mike: Yeah. These drivers are great at that kind of stuff. So most of them are going to take their time to really go through that process with you, make sure everyone’s on the same page, because that’s ultimately what we want is everyone to be on the same page. However, I still always instruct people, take your time to take your own pictures. If you see the driver taking pictures, that’s great, but it doesn’t hurt to take your own pictures. Make sure you get a copy of the bill of lading, the condition report that they’re doing at pickup. And just do as much of the prep work as you can on your own. The drivers are great, like you just said they’re going to help you, but still it’s important to do that stuff, your own due diligence with that stuff too.

Repairs After Filing Damage Claims

John: Right. So then what happens after the damage claim is filed and how does my car get repaired if it does require it?

Mike: Sure. So once a claim is filed, we go through our own internal investigation process. So we look at pictures at pickup, any condition reports, any notes that anyone’s taken, look at the same stuff at delivery and really just go through the whole process to figure out, okay, where does it look like this damage occurred? At what point does something not line up with the inspections here and try to figure out exactly what happened. If we found that the damage existed prior to shipping the car, the claim pretty much ends there. And you might go back to where you got the car from and see what happened with the place that it started.

If we notice that there is someone at fault, if the carrier is at fault for the damage, then we work to get that repair approved as quickly as possible. So as we’re working on that, we’ll get the customer to bring the car to a body shop, start gathering estimates, and basically approve it as quickly as we can so we can get the vehicle in the shop, fixed and back to the customer on the lot as quickly as possible.

Vehicle Shipping and Car Insurance

John: And do I have to get my own car insurance involved at all? Or is it really just if there is damage that happened during the move, during the transportation, then it’s all handled by you guys?

Mike: Yep. All handled by us, so we’re fully licensed, bonded, and insured ourselves and we only work with carriers that are also fully licensed, bonded, and insured. So there’s no reason for you to have to get your own insurance company involved.

Contact Us to Schedule Vehicle Transport Today

John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Mike. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Mike: Yeah, of course. Thanks, John.

John: And for more information or to request a quote for your auto shipping needs, visit the website at or call (877) 542-1955.