Are there specific auto transport insurance requirements?

Transport companies may be legally required to carry insurance to cover damage that occurs while your vehicle is being transported. However, it's up to you to verify the car hauler's insurance coverage and check that their coverage limits are high enough to replace your vehicle if it were destroyed or damaged during transport.

Transporter coverage requirements can vary by state, so it pays to ask for their insurance policy details. Verify that their insurance covers pickup, transport, and delivery, as some transporters only have coverage once your vehicle is on the truck. A car hauler's insurance policy could also have exclusions that would complicate coverage for your vehicle if it were damaged in transit.

Verify that the transporter's insurance covers all legs of the journey.

When you drop off your car, a transport company representative should do a detailed walk-around of the vehicle to document any scratches and dents, and you'll agree on the car's condition. This process will be repeated at the final destination. At both drop-off and pickup, request a copy of the inspection. Assuming there's no new damage, you'll be on your way.

If your vehicle gets damaged, destroyed, or stolen during transport, file a claim with the transporter's insurer.

Why shouldn't I transport a car without insurance?

If you won't be driving it at all, you may not be required to have an auto insurance policy for your car while it's being moved. But transporting a car without insurance likely doesn't make sense. You'd need insurance to drive it to a drop-off point and to pick it up, as well as to drive around town once you get to your destination. And if there's an issue with the transporter's insurance, your auto insurance might be able to act as a backup, depending on your policy.

If there's an issue with the car hauler's insurance and your own policy can offer coverage, remember that you'll have to pay your deductible out of pocket, and your premium might increase after a claim.

What types of auto insurance coverage can cover auto transport damage?

Comprehensive coverage may cover your vehicle if it's damaged in transport due to fire, wind, hail, flood, theft, vandalism, falling objects, or animals. Collision coverage might come into play if the transporter driving your vehicle is involved in an accident. Every insurer is different, so check with yours to understand how coverage might work for transport-related claims.

Best practices when transporting a vehicle

When preparing to ship your car, follow these steps for a smooth journey:

  • Get the transporter's MC number: All auto transport companies operating across state lines should be assigned a Motor Carrier (MC) number. Ask for their number and check that it matches what's listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website. If they don't match or your carrier is reluctant to share their MC number, move on to a new car shipper.
  • Ask for proof of insurance: Any reputable auto transport company should be willing to show you their proof of insurance. Verify coverage levels and dates, and make sure they can cover the cost to replace your vehicle if it's totaled or stolen. Ask if there are any exclusions during pickup, loading, transit, and unloading. If they're hesitant to produce proof of insurance, consider that a red flag.
  • Check in with your insurer: Your personal car insurance may be able to provide coverage if there are issues with the transporter's insurance. However, not all insurance policies cover your vehicle while it's being transported. Check with your insurer regarding coverage for auto transports.
  • Clean out your vehicle: If you're wondering if you can put stuff in your car when shipping it, the answer is no. The auto transport company's insurance only covers the vehicle, not personal belongings inside.
  • Be there for drop-off and pickup: Just like with renting a car, make sure you're there for the inspections at drop-off and pickup. You may even choose to take your own pictures and notes. If you find new damage after transport, the representative inspecting your car should document it thoroughly, and you should start a claim through the transporter's insurance. Any damage found after the final inspection might not be covered.
  • Get everything in writing: Before the move, make sure you have documentation of your full auto transport agreement, including details like insurance coverage and delivery information.

What if I hire someone to drive my vehicle?

If you prefer, you can hire someone to drive your vehicle to the destination. If an accident happens while the driver has your car, it will depend on the circumstances whether your insurance or the driver's insurance can apply. You should check with your insurer first to see what might be covered in this type of situation. If the driver doesn't have their own auto insurance policy, they should consider getting a non-owner policy for a minimum of liability coverage.