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What to Do If Your Car is Damaged During Transport

Transporting your car can be a nerve-wracking process any way you slice it. You hand over your keys and you cross your fingers and hope that your vehicle arrives at its final destination safe and sound.

But what do you do if the stars don’t align and there is vehicle damage during transport?

Follow these steps, starting before sending your vehicle on its way, and you’ll be prepared for the worst.

Do Your Research Beforehand

Before you sign the contract to ship your car, get as much information as you can about your shipping company’s insurance policies and what they cover.

Find out what is included in their basic insurance and ask what additional insurance coverage they might offer — and what it will cost. Do they cover only the damage or total loss? Is there a cap on how much they will pay?

For a vehicle in transit, possible damages might include chips, dents, or scratches, especially the roof or the area under the bumpers; flood damage; shipping truck rollover; window breakage; and theft.

If you determine the company’s insurance policy isn’t enough, factor in an additional policy when estimating the cost of moving your car.

Inspect your Vehicle Thoroughly Upon Arrival

When your car arrives at the final destination, check for any damage with a shipping company representative to see if you notice anything that indicates there has been damaged since the pre-shipping inspection.

Be sure to look at the roof and undercarriage, check for fluid leaks, and turn the vehicle on to be sure it is running properly and isn’t making any sounds indicating damage. Lastly, check the odometer to ensure there hasn’t been excessive miles put on the car since it left your hands.

When your car is received, your transport company will prepare a statement of the vehicle’s condition for you both to sign.

Read it carefully and be sure you know what you’re signing.

If you disagree with any of the statements or details, ask for a correction.

If You Find Damage…

  1. Take a photo of the damage, ideally from an angle similar to a photo taken prior to shipping your vehicle.
  2. Along with the car transport representative, document the damage in the Vehicle Condition Report. Most forms will have a detailed diagram so the part of the car damaged during shipping can be noted accurately.
  3. If the driver isn’t present during the inspection, notify them of the damages as soon as possible.
  4. The driver or representative of the company must sign the inspection documents before you drive the vehicle away.
  5. Visit your mechanic to obtain an estimate for repairing the damages. Get a written or email copy to provide to the shipping company.
  6. Provide photos and repair estimate to the vehicle transport company. They will need both to submit to their insurance company to secure payment for the repairs.
  7. If you require a rental vehicle in the meantime due to significant damage, keep all receipts.

If the Company Refuses to Pay for the Damage…

When it comes to transport and freight, the terms of carriage and what the carrier is and is not liable for will be spelled out in your contract or receipt – whatever paper work you sign or agree to before or at the time of payment.

If the carrier tries to avoid liability, you can rely on the Australian Consumer Law which covers goods and services if they are acquired for normal domestic use. This law dictates that any services covered by it, must be provided with acceptable care and skill or technical knowledge and taking all necessary steps to avoid loss and damage.

A follow up letter to the carrier demanding payment of the cost of repair for the damage, attaching a quote and outlining your rights under the Australian Consumer Law may help.

If you don’t hear back from them, contact your state’s Fair Trading Dept or the ACCC and they will help mediate a solution that both parties can be happy with.

If that doesn’t work to your satisfaction, contact the company’s insurance agent and tell them your vehicle was damaged, and you have not received fair compensation for it. They don’t want to see car damage during transport any more than you do!