The Importance of Vehicle Transport Condition Reports
To avoid damage claims, every car transporter should already know that before any vehicle is loaded for transport, it must be inspected for previous damage; and it is essential for all parties involved that the inspection report is prepared methodically and precise.
The format of the recorded document is called the “condition report“.
The car transport inspection report documentation historically has been paper-based, but with recent changes in digital technology, smartphones and handheld devices with touch screens are now being used.
As you continue to read this, it is very important to keep in mind that in nearly every case where a truck driver arrives to load a car, the contact at the pickup location has never met that driver before, and therefore, has no way of knowing if he or she will do a quality job of protecting the vehicle from damage during transport.
This is exactly why if anything is damaged between pick up and delivery, blaming the driver is nearly always the first reaction.
Regardless of the circumstance of any damage, if the owner of the company cannot prove the driver did not cause the damage, official incident reports will be generated and delivered to the owner and insurance company, who will be legally required to pay for the vehicle to be repaired.
Consequently, the transporter’s insurance premium will increase, and a growing history of causing vehicle damage during transport will have a severely negative impact on their business moving forward.
This chain reaction is exactly why every carrier will do everything possible to avoid damage claims from the very beginning.
Here’s how you can help make sure vehicle inspections are carried out correctly and completely.
- The Designated Pickup Contact and your driver should do an inspection of the vehicle.
- The Vehicle Condition Report should be filled out and signed by both the driver and pick up contact and each of you keep a copy.
- Take lots of pictures and/or video with the driver in them if possible.
- The Designated Delivery Contact and Driver will do a final inspection of your vehicle.
- If there is no damage both you and the carrier will sign the condition report and each keep a copy.
If There is Damage
- If there’s any damage caused by the driver, it should be marked on the condition report and signed by the driver as their fault before they are paid.
- Take pictures and once they mark it on the paperwork and sign it. You must keep this copy for your records and ask the driver where to file a claim. Each carrier has their own procedures for their insurance policy.
- After you receive your vehicle and complete your paperwork with the carrier notify your car transport company so we can begin the claims process.
- If for any reason you do not have a carrier-signed Condition Report after your vehicle has been delivered showing the damage on the report with the carrier’s acknowledgment it is very difficult to get your claim acknowledge. It is up to you and/or your pickup and delivery contacts to make sure your carrier is following this procedure.
Upon Vehicle Load
- Make sure do to this PRE-Inspection in a well-lit area and keep the Condition Report handy.
- The carrier should also provide a copy of this document.
Upon Vehicle Delivery
- Do a POST-inspection, walk around the vehicle. Verify that the vehicle is in the same condition as at was at pickup.
- Have a towel ready to clean basic dirt in order to verify dirt vs. damage.
- Have the driver sign on that claim.
- Without a signature, no claims will be processed.
- If there is any additional damage(s) it must be marked on the vehicle condition report.
- The carrier will (and should) also provide a copy of this document.
5 Steps to a Perfect Vehicle Transport Inspection
Here are the five best ways to complete the perfect car transport inspection report.
1. Get Signatures
Obtaining a signature from somebody at each pickup and delivery location to compare the vehicle with the inspection report and verify the two identically match.
Sometimes, the driver cannot obtain any signature, such as at auctions, dealerships, terminals (or when it’s outside normal business hours) but going to the effort to attempt to get a signature as often as possible should always be present, especially with residential customers.
No matter where you are, or where your car is, that signature is gold if anyone raises a question after the fact.
2. Take Pictures
Photos take extra time, but the driver knows if they have pictures of the damage before they ever touched the car then there is little other proof they will need on their inspection report.
Getting clear photos of vehicles can be harder than it looks, because of a car’s naturally reflective surface, the brightness of the daytime sun, and shadows that can interfere with clarity.
Take a lot of pictures, including close-ups, all sections, and panels, from top to bottom, and for parts with obvious damage. Take many different angles for complete coverage.
If you have photos, you have supporting evidence and total peace of mind.
In addition, some transport companies use special apps with third-party time stamping and geo-tagged features. This will provide that extra layer of protection that most insurance companies will request should a fierce dispute arise in the future.
3. Mark all Damages
It’s very important for an insurance claims adjuster that all pre-existing damages are marked accurately.
If the damage is ‘dented,’ do not indicate ‘scratched.’ If it’s ‘cracked,’ then don’t put ‘chipped.’
To drivers, these may seem like semantics, but just because a damage spot has been identified doesn’t mean that’s enough to fight a claim.
When a vehicle has been damaged, nobody wants to accept the blame, and everyone is ready to point the finger at the carrier.
Many experienced drivers use the most comprehensive and thorough approach by also taking photos of additional documentation and attaching those files to the digital vehicle condition report app if they are using one.
4. Complete Required Documents
Even if the transporter has just completed an excellent inspection report, they can also be required (based on the type of pickup location) to mark any and all damages on additional forms of documentation.
A digital VCR can be very helpful in this regard whether to print or email an exact duplicate copy.
While it may be a hassle for the drivers to follow through with all of this documentation duplication, not doing so can create exponentially more problems and lost wages in the future so don’t allow them to take shortcuts.
5. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate
Finally, if a driver notices something that doesn’t seem quite right, identifying and communicating with the customer can stop problems from escalating.
If a floor mat is obviously missing, if there’s a strange smell, if fluid is leaking from underneath – anything out of the ordinary – the driver is responsible for letting somebody know right away.
If it’s not on the VCR, there could be something wrong that not even you’re aware of.
Good communication prior to loading can be indispensable to avoiding a major damage claim in the future.