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Understanding Your Car Shipping Contract – What You Need to Know

Most professional auto transport companies have their contracts reviewed by legal counsel. It ensures they can refer to the agreement when disputes arise about pricing, pickup, and delivery methods.

Your contract with a carrier (if you work through a broker) is a bill of lading. You should only sign this if you agree to all the information it contains.

Terms of Service

Whether shipping through a carrier or broker, the terms of service set out what the company is committed to doing throughout the transportation process. The customer should read this section carefully and understand all aspects of the agreement. If anything is unclear, the client should clarify it with the transport company to ensure they fully understand it.

Most companies will tell their customers that they cannot guarantee pickup and delivery dates as they depend on the availability of trucks and other factors that can change the time frame. The best way to avoid surprises is to use a professional car shipping company with enough resources to provide timely pickups and deliveries for their clients.

When a client submits an order, the car shipping company will send them an estimate with the price and estimated pickup/delivery date. However, delays may occur before and during transportation due to weather, road conditions, or carrier mechanical issues. It is why many brokers will tell their clients that their estimates are subject to change as part of the contract.

The contract will also contain terms and conditions regarding how a customer must prepare their vehicle for shipment. For example, the client should remove all personal items from the car. It will protect the transport company if something is damaged during shipment. The client must inspect their vehicle and sign a bill of lading (BOL) at the pickup and drop-off locations to verify that the car has been transported in good condition.

Pickup and Delivery

Pickup and delivery dates are a crucial part of your car shipping contract. Auto transport companies follow schedules, and when your vehicle is to be picked up or dropped off, you will know the exact date and time in advance. It is a great way to avoid confusion and ensure your car is ready for pickup when the carrier arrives.

A reliable company will respond to any questions and concerns you might have before the pickup date. Moving on to another company might be a good idea if they are not. You should only choose a company with a low response rate, as they might ignore your requests or not answer them once your shipment is in motion.

If you work through a broker, your contract with the carrier will be a bill of lading. Always read this carefully and make sure you are in entire agreement with the information it contains. Any recourse you have with the carrier will be based on the information agreed to within this contract.

Once you’ve chosen your car transport company, you should also consider the different options they have for vehicle pickup and delivery. For example, some auto transport companies may require that customers confidently prepare their cars for transportation. Others may offer special discounts for veterans, students, and first responders.


The best car shipping companies will have insurance policies to cover your vehicle during transport. These policies will vary in terms of deductibles and coverage amounts. You must understand what is and isn’t covered to know where your liability lies if anything goes wrong during transport.

The vast majority of companies will have cargo insurance that covers the vehicles that are loaded onto their trucks. Still, you should always ask what type of insurance they have and their policy limits before hiring a company to transport your car. Before your vehicle is loaded onto the truck, it’s a good idea to take photos to have proof in case anything happens while it’s being transported.

If you work through a broker, your contract will be written as a bill of lading between the broker and the carrier physically transporting your vehicle. When working directly with a page, the car shipping contract will be written as an agreement between you and the carrier. You must understand both arrangements and agree with them before transporting your vehicle. Any recourse you have against a carrier or broker will be based on the information in these agreements.


Most auto transport companies will post their cancellation policy in their website’s terms and conditions section or make it available through a representative. It is a crucial piece of information to review. It will tell you when to cancel your order and what happens afterward. It is common for these policies to vary from company to company.

For example, one company may state that you can cancel your shipment if the car has yet to be assigned to or picked up by a carrier. Another company may note that you can cancel your shipment anytime before the airline receives a signed bill of lading from the client. Both of these are acceptable and reasonable policies.

Consider that your auto transport company is in business to make money. They will want to collaborate with you because having you as a recurring customer would be in their best interest. However, that doesn’t mean they will treat you poorly if you need to cancel your shipment.

First, you should take a deep breath and realize that most things in life are not set in stone. It is elementary to change your plans and reschedule your shipment. Most brokers will accommodate you as much as possible. It could be that you don’t like the quoted price, or you no longer need your vehicle – whatever the reason, and it is okay to cancel.



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