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What to Do If Your Car Arrives Damaged After Shipment (Podcast)

What to Do If Your Car Arrives Damaged After Shipment (Podcast)

Mike Scenna from Preowned Auto Logistics talks with John Maher about damage during auto shipping. He discusses the type of damage that may occur, and he compares the risks of shipping in an open versus an enclosed truck. Then, he talks about the importance of the condition report and what to expect if you put in a claim for damage that occurs during shipping.

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. And our topic today is damaged claims. What to do if your car arrives damaged after shipment. Welcome Mike.

Mike Scenna: Hey John, thanks for having me.

What Type of Damage Can Occur When Shipping Cars?

John: Sure. So Mike, tell me a little bit about what types of damage might occur during a car shipment.

Mike: Yeah, sure. So of course we’re always looking for damage, right, not to occur, right? The goal is we don’t want to see damage happen during a shipment. Let’s do things safely and in the right way to not see that. But I mean, really anything can happen, right?

It’s just like when you’re out driving, when you’re talking about damage, which is unexpected, it can be anything from a typical accident of the truck getting into a fender bender, like veering off the road to what we would see the most would be things like trees or debris from the road to shifting maybe on the truck from like winds and stuff. There’s a lot of cars stacked up on the truck, anywhere from, it could be as few as two or three all the way up to nine.

And they’re stacked in there like a puzzle and they’re very close together. So depending on the conditions of the road and the weather, these things can move around and it’s possible for them to move against each other and rub against each other. And that can cause some minor damages so. Things not being strapped down properly, they could rarely like roll off the truck, fall off, but yeah, wide range of anything. So if people aren’t moving things safely you could see damage and then sometimes it’s just stuff that’s out of your control that can cause damage. You can be as cautious as you can, but at the end of the day, it’s damage. Right. It’s an accident. And it’s always going to be unavoidable, but you do what you can to limit it.

Damage While Driving Vs. Damage While Shipping

John: Yeah. Just the other day I was driving a good distance behind a truck and it threw up a little rock and cracked my windshield a little bit. And I’m sure that kind of thing can happen just as much with a car that’s not driving, but that’s just sitting on the back of an open vehicle.

Mike: Right, right. Exactly. In that rock goes over Mike, over the cab of the truck, but it’s got nine other vehicles that it could hit on that thing and yeah. Yeah. Not much you could do, but hopefully you’ve got good procedures in place to help fix the situation if it does happen.

Insurance for Shipping Vehicles

John: Right. So for people having their car shipped, is insurance an optional thing that they choose or they don’t choose to get with the car shipment or is it a requirement on all car shipments?

Mike: So for us it’s not an additional charge, it’s just, we have it. It’s always, it’s offered, we don’t ship cars without insurance. We don’t work with carriers that aren’t insured. As far as personal vehicle insurance, if that’s what you’re asking, you’re okay to ship a car that you don’t have personal insurance on. That’s fine. We do that all the time.

We ship cars for dealerships, we ship cars for individuals who just purchased them. So they haven’t even registered and insured them. Yeah. So there’s not a situation where we’re having people go through their own personal insurance. Whereas a broker of vehicle shipping, we have supplemental insurance as well in the off chance that someone’s insurance does expire or lapse and we didn’t know about it, which also shouldn’t happen because we have procedures in place for that.

We have insurance that covers that as well. So we do a really good job at making sure that we’re covered on that end. So yeah, it’s pretty safe. I tell people all the time that they really don’t need to worry about being covered when shipping with us. For high end vehicles too, the policy goes into the millions so there’s nothing to worry about.

John: Wow.

Mike: We’re covered on like some of those crazy sports cars and like Bentley’s and things like that, we ship that and policy covers all that stuff as well.

What Does Car Shipping Insurance Cover?

John: Right. I know that sometimes you might have like a warranty or something that only covers certain things, but it doesn’t cover other things. And inevitably, the thing that goes wrong is the thing that’s not covered under the warranty. Does the insurance cover any type of damage that occurs during car shipping or do I need to be concerned that something might happen that’s not covered?

Mike: So for the most part, pretty much anything is covered that happens during shipping. I’ve seen some policies that might not cover acts of God, like things that could happen, like natural disasters and weather. So those kinds of things you might want to look into if you had just purchased a car and don’t have insurance on it. When we ship cars, I’ve seen that before, like a heavy hailstorm cracking a windshield and people’s personal insurance policies will cover that because that was through weather that broke the windshield, it wasn’t anything caused by the driver or any improper driving or anything like that. It wasn’t something that they did that caused that. But that’s something that’s very rare. There is a difference between enclosed and open shipping.

So in open shipping, there is like normal wear and tear is not covered. So very, very minor scratches that could occur while you’re driving down the road like on the bottom of the bumper, something surface level, maybe through the clear coat of the car. Stuff that I’m sure if you walked around your car, you’d probably notice on the bottom that you can maybe not even tell if it’s like a piece of dirt or a scratch, or how you might have little pebbles pits in the front of your bumper from driving. That kind of stuff that just over time, driving down the highways and things like that, you’re just not going to be able to avoid, that stuff happens on an open shipment on the truck as well. You don’t avoid that kind of stuff on the truck when you’re not driving.

So that kind of stuff is not covered on open shipping. So if you are concerned about that, you’re shipping a really pristine high-end car, you might want to look into that, where that is covered or enclosed shipping. Insurance for enclosed shipping covers absolutely everything. Anything you can think of is expected to be covered there. You should not have any normal wear and tear. Any of that is covered. So there are some small differences that it’s important to ask some questions if you are concerned, to make sure you’re covered if you are looking to have those small things covered.

Insurance for Open Vs. Enclosing Shipping

John: Right. So basically on an open shipment, if the car would have suffered a similar amount of damage just from driving the car on the highway, it’s not going to be covered just for the fact that it’s on the back of a truck. It’s still an open shipment and it’s going to be involved in, like you said, that dust and sand and things like that, being kicked up from the road. That’s normal.

Mike: Right. Exactly. That’s the best way of putting it. It’s like if it happened while driving aside from something major coming up, just like you said, just like dust and things like that, it’s not covered. But if it were something significant, like if a sizable object came up and hit it and that would, of course be covered.

John: Right.

Mike: And then again, with enclosed shipping, you can even go a step up and cover from even that stuff.

Proving Damage While Shipping Vehicles

John: So how do I know that my car was damaged during a shipment? And how do I prove it, to my car shipping company that yes, this damage occurred during the shipment?

Mike: Yep. This all goes back to the condition report. And this is something that we can’t stress enough the importance of. We spend a lot of time going over this with people and really explaining the proper way to do it. But basically when a carrier shows up to pick up your car, you have a part of this where you and the carrier both go over the condition of the vehicle. You both come to an understanding that this is the condition of the vehicle that I’m giving it to you for the shipment. You note it on a piece of paper or you do it digitally, is an image of a car where you mark the location of any scratches, dents, and any imperfections on the car. And you also take pictures. Pictures are the best. Take as many pictures as you can.

A carrier will take pictures and you should take your own. On the other side of delivery, the carrier is going to show up and deliver the car. And they’re going to have that same condition report with them in which you’re going to sign off on saying that you are receiving the car in the same condition that the carrier received the vehicle in. If there is any difference there, you want to note it at that time. It’s very important to do it at that time.

If you miss anything at that time, even if you sign the condition report, even if they just drive away and you make a phone call saying, oh, I just missed this. I’m noticing it now. You still signed a legal document saying that you received the vehicle in the same condition that you shipped it in, that they picked it up in and it can be very difficult to have any damages covered. So you really want to make sure you take the time to go over the vehicle while the carrier is still there before you sign the condition report. It’s very important.

How to Submit a Claim If Damage Occurs During Shipping

John: Right. So what are the steps then involved in submitting a damage claim if you do notice that there’s damage that has occurred during the shipment?

Mike: Yep. So what you can do is again, really this should all start at that moment while you’re receiving the vehicle while the carrier is still there. I mean, really the best thing you do is even make a phone call right then and there. I tell my customers all the time, if you are even slightly concerned, just give me a call while the carrier is there, get me on the phone and I’ll start walking you through the process of what to write on the condition report before you even let the carrier leave.

But really it starts there, making sure you’re writing on the condition report that I am adding damage to this. I am not receiving this vehicle in the same condition that I gave it to the carrier in. So you want to start right then and there. From there, most companies will submit a damage claim form to you.

So the form will request that condition report the way that you signed it. You’ll send it back to them along with just explaining what happened in the shipment, where you think the damage occurred, what happened and just the next steps from there. So a company like us, we’re going to handle all of that internally. We’ll take the damage claim form. We’re going to look at all the pictures. We’re going to reach out to the carrier for you. We’re going to reach out to the insurance companies. We’re going to gather all of the information. We’re going to make a decision and see where it looks like the damage occurred, if you did everything right and we can expedite the procedure and get it covered and get it fixed. We’ll do that.

If you miss a step, maybe something wasn’t done right, like you signed that condition report and you shouldn’t have, we’re still going to fight for you and do everything that we can. If the information looks like the damage still occurred during transport, it might not be a guarantee, but we’re going to help you out. But basically the short version is you call the carrier, the broker up, us and submit the form and we take care of it from there, every bit of the claim.

Resolving a Car Shipping Damage Claim

John: Okay. And then when can I expect a resolution to my car shipping damage claim and how long does that typically take?

Mike: Yeah, it really depends on the situation. If again, if you did everything right, you signed that condition report properly by marking the damage and helped to make sure that everything was going to pass through properly and there was nothing that was going to hold that up, it could be just a couple of days to move it through, get it right into a body shop. If it’s minor damage again, maybe a couple of days there. We could see the whole process take under a week from the start to having the claim approved and the car fixed.

More complicated ones with more severe damage and maybe the process hasn’t been done right, could go on for possibly months, which is why, again, it’s just important to do the condition report properly. Because no one wants to be without a car for months. So if you take the extra time, which is just minutes to do the condition report right, it can really help on that end of not being without a car a lot longer. So yeah. Anywhere from a couple of days to months, just depending on the damage and what you do during the condition reporting process.

Contact PAL for Your Auto Shipping Needs

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.