Your vehicle is your pride and joy. That’s why you’re so determined to bring it along when you’re assigned a new permanent change of station (PCS). Selling your car is out of the question, which means you have to find a way to ship it wherever you need to go.
If you’re moving to a new base within the continental United States, you may choose to drive the car yourself. But if you’re shipping out overseas, you’ll definitely need to work with a shipping company to get your vehicle to your new location.
Finding the right military vehicle shipping company is difficult.
But even if you’ve managed to do that, you still have the auto transport insurance question to answer. How do you find the right auto shipping insurance for your vehicle? This article shares the key steps and answers some of the most frequently asked questions about vehicle shipping insurance.
The Key Steps for Finding the Right Transport Car Insurance
While all carriers should offer some form of insurance when shipping a vehicle, you’ll often find that you can’t rely on that insurance alone to cover the car’s value. You may also find that special military insurance, such as Air Force car insurance doesn’t cover a vehicle when it’s being transported to a new location. These are the steps to follow if you want to ensure you have full coverage.
Step No. 1 – Quiz Your Transportation Company About Its Insurance
You need to know where you stand before you begin your search for vehicle transport insurance. As such, start by asking your vehicle carrier about the insurance they have. Any vehicle transportation company that operates in the United States is legally required to have liability insurance as a bare minimum.
Liability insurance offers some level of protection against damage or injury to your personal property. It should cover any legal costs or payouts the carrier has to make in regards to damage that occurs to your vehicle due to negligence or mistakes in the shipping process. Ask your carrier about its liability insurance and request a copy of its Certificate of Insurance. If the carrier hesitates or tries to steer you away from the auto transport insurance topic, find another company to work with.
Once you have the carrier’s insurance details, you have some questions to ask. These questions help you determine whether you need to find your own auto transport insurance to supplement the carrier’s liability insurance:
- Does the carrier’s insurance cover my vehicle’s full value?
- Is there a deductible and how much do I have to pay before I can claim for damages?
- Why types of damage do the policy cover?
- Is there a limit to the carrier’s coverage?
- Are specialty items, such as custom spoilers and rims, covered by the policy?
The answers to these questions help you determine if you need your own insurance. For example, a policy that doesn’t cover your vehicle’s full value isn’t much use if your car gets rendered inoperable during the shipping process. And if you’ve spent thousands of dollars on vehicle customizations, you’ll want any insurance policy applied to your vehicle to cover those costly additions.
Assuming the carrier’s liability insurance doesn’t offer everything you’re looking for, you’ll move on to searching for your own auto transport insurance.
Step No. 2 – Choose the Best Transport Car Insurance for Your Needs
Unfortunately, your regular auto insurance policy isn’t likely to cover anything that might happen when you’re shipping a vehicle overseas. On the plus side, you get automatic coverage up to $500 under the Carriage of Goods at Sea Act. But your car is likely going to be worth much more than that. If it isn’t, it’s probably a good idea to consider purchasing another car at your new location due to the cost of shipping your vehicle likely exceeding that $500 value.
Assuming you don’t want to rely on the cover from the Carriage of Good at Sea Act, you have two auto transport insurance options when shipping a vehicle overseas:
- Total-Loss Insurance
- All-Risk Shipping Insurance
As the name implies, total-loss insurance covers your vehicle if something happens that caused it to be deemed a total loss during shipping. For example, a crane may drop the shipping container carrying your vehicle, destroying the container’s contents. If such an incident occurs, this insurance covers the full value of your vehicle. Note that total-loss insurance doesn’t protect you if your vehicle experiences minor damage, such as scuffs or scratch marks.
With all-risk insurance, you get full coverage for any damage that might occur to your car when it’s shipped by road, sea, air, or rail. This coverage extends from minor scrapes and dings up to water damage and even the total loss of your vehicle.
The type of cover you choose is dependent on your situation. If you have an older car and you’re not too worried about minor dings, opt for total-loss insurance. But if you’re shipping a valuable car overseas, it’s best to get all-risk insurance to cover any damage that may occur.
Step No. 3 – Start Your Search for a Carrier
Once you know what type of insurance you want to have, it’s time to start your search for an insurer. Google is your friend here. A quick search for auto insurance companies should give you a list of providers to check out. It’s also worth speaking to any colleagues or friends who’ve shipped a vehicle overseas before. Ask them about the insurance providers they used and what their experiences were like.
Move into the research phase once you have a list. Do the following for every company you’re considering:
- Check that the provider offers the specific type of insurance you’re looking for. There’s no point in compromising on your cover if other carriers can provide what you want.
- Visit the provider’s website to ensure it reflects the professionalism you expect to see from an insurance company. If the site is poorly-structured or doesn’t work properly, that may be a sign that the provider doesn’t place much care into what it does.
- Search for independent feedback on the insurance company’s services. Friends and colleagues are a great source. But if you can’t get personal recommendations, check social media and online review websites to find out what previous customers have to say about the provider.
Your research will steer you away from insurance companies that offer poor coverage or make claiming difficult. Ideally, you’ll work with an insurer that provides the type of coverage you need and will guide you if you need to make a claim.
Step No. 4 – Test The Insurer’s Customer Service
Let’s assume you have to make an auto transport insurance claim. That means dealing with a complex insurance contract, deductibles, and the insurer’s claims process. Now, imagine that your insurance company doesn’t communicate with you during your claim. Worse yet, it actively tries to block you from making a legitimate claim.
Suddenly, the auto shipping insurance policy you took out to make your life easier is causing you a whole lot of stress.
Testing an insurance company’s customer service department before signing on the dotted line helps you to avoid this situation.
Start by confirming the company has a dedicated customer service department. If all email addresses and phone numbers lead to the same place, customer service requests are more likely to get lost in the shuffle. You want your insurer to have a dedicated department focused solely on customers.
Next, test the insurer’s speed of response. Ask questions about your policy before you sign it. It’s best to take a couple of days after receiving a quote to do this, rather than asking questions when you’re already speaking to one of the company’s representatives. This allows you to see how long it takes the insurer to respond, which is crucial information. After all, a company that takes ages to respond isn’t going to be much help if you need to make a claim and have deadlines for providing information.
Finally, ask about the mechanisms the customer service department has in place to communicate with you. A phone number and email address are the bare minimum. Many insurance companies now use text message notifications, automated emails, and similar methods to stay in touch with customers. The more an insurer has invested in these types of technologies, the more confident you can feel in its customer service.
Step No. 5 – Check the Insurer’s Financial Strength Rating
You feel confident that you’ve found the right insurance company. The quote is in line with what you expected and you’re happy with their customer service. You’ve even pored over the contract and feel happy that it covers everything it needs to.
It’s time to sign on the dotted line, right?
Not so fast.
Before accepting a provider’s auto transport insurance offer, there’s one last check you need to run. You have to ensure that the insurer has the financial strength to pay out if you have to make a claim. To do so, check the company with the following rating agencies:
- A.M. Best Company, Inc.
- Fitch Ratings
- Kroll Bond Rating Agency, Inc.
- Moody’s Investor Services
- Standard & Poor’s Insurance Ratings Services
You can run checks on your insurer using any of these websites. This requires you to register an account, though doing so is free in all cases. You’re looking for your insurer to have the top rating offered by each of these rating agencies. If any of these agencies rate the insurer as being “vulnerable,” this suggests financial issues that could affect you when it’s time to make a claim.
Frequently Asked Questions
By following the above steps, you should be able to find auto transport insurance that goes beyond the standard army insurance car insurers often provide. Now, let’s look at some frequently asked questions about auto transport insurance and the types of insurance you’ll need once you’ve made your move overseas.
How Much Does Car Shipping Insurance Cost?
The cost of vehicle transport insurance varies depending on the amount of coverage you need. Expect to pay between $50 and $100 for coverage worth up to $2,000. This may be enough to cover any gaps in the coverage your vehicle transportation company provides.
What Is the Best Car Insurance for Military Families?
According to Value Penguin, the average cost of auto insurance for military families is about $1,500 per year. If you’re searching for military overseas car insurance once your vehicle arrives at its new location, use that average as a starting point for your search.
Several American insurance companies offer car insurance below this average, including Geico, State Farm, and USAA. You may also find insurers that operate within the country you’re stationed in that can provide lower prices.
Do I Need My Own Auto Transport Insurance?
No, you’re not required to take out your own vehicle transport insurance when shipping a vehicle overseas. Your transportation company should have liability insurance to cover various aspects of the journey. Still, you may want your own insurance policy to cover your vehicle up to its true value and to protect against issues that the carrier’s insurance doesn’t cover.
Find the Right Insurance (And the Right Vehicle Transportation Company)
Insurance is always a tricky subject. Though your car shipping company should have liability insurance, it’s always worth getting your own auto transport insurance to have additional protection. Granted, it may add a couple of hundred dollars to the cost of shipping a vehicle overseas, but that investment is worth it if something happens to your car during its journey.
Of course, you want to minimize the possibility of any damage occurring to your car at all. That means you need to work with a vehicle shipping company that makes your car’s safety a key priority.
We have over three decades of experience in shipping vehicles for military personnel overseas and inside the United States. In addition to keeping your car safe, we can help you deal with paperwork, customs, and all of the complications of transporting a vehicle. If you’d like to learn more, or if you want a quote for our services, call 888-230-9894 or contact our team online.