Details About Auto Transport Contracts

Details About Auto Transport Contracts
Published on July 12, 2023

An auto transport contract is the most important document in the overall shipping process. Contracts are important because they are legally binding and protect all the involved parties, carrier drivers, brokers, and clients.

Still, car owners may find the contract too long and contain many details, some of which need clarification. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean they can skip reading the contract before signing it. Carefully reading, understanding, and negotiating the contract terms are crucial to avoid misunderstandings.

This article highlights the key terms and clauses to look for and the red flags to avoid in auto transport contracts and provides some tips on negotiating a fair contract.

Key Terms and Clauses in Auto Transport Contracts

While reading the auto transport contract, car owners should understand every word they agree on. However, car owners will likely encounter some unfamiliar jargon related to the car shipping industry. Here, they can ask their auto transport company to explain their meaning clearly.

Indeed, car owners must pay attention to particular terms and clauses in the auto transport contract, such as liability coverage, delivery timeframes, cancellation policies, and payment terms. Here is an overview showing what each clause indicates:

  • Liability coverage: Liability coverage terms highlight the amount of coverage the auto transport company offers and the conditions under which it is held responsible for damage compensation. Car owners must ensure the written coverage amount is the same as the company agreed to provide and enough to cover their vehicles’ value in unforeseen events.
  • Delivery timeframe: This clause accurately states the pick-up and delivery times as both parties agreed. Most auto shipping contracts stipulate that car owners understand that delivery timeframes are subject to change under specific circumstances when drivers have limited control over road conditions.
  • Cancellation policies: Terms identifying cancellation policies include specific information about when and how car owners can cancel their shipping orders. In addition, they specify whether particular fees are incurred, the amount of refund car owners receive, and when they obtain the paid deposit.
  • Payment terms: Payment terms precisely indicate how much to ship a car. They clearly demonstrate the cost of each service and fees car owners are charged for shipping their vehicles. Also, payment terms state the payment methods the company accepts and payment policies regarding the times and amounts car owners should pay.

Red Flags in an Auto Transport Contract

Aside from reading and understanding key contract terms and clauses, car owners must be careful if they find questionable content in their contracts. These are commonly known as red flags that car owners should avoid and dismiss hiring the company if the contract displays any.

The most common aspects that make red flags in an auto transport contract include vague language, hidden fees, and unrealistic promises.

Vague language

Vague language in an auto transport contract includes unclear terms that don’t clearly demonstrate the responsibilities of the carrier or the auto transport company, nor do they manifest delivery timeframe, liability coverage, or the company’s specific policy statement.

Vague language is a red flag because it doesn’t protect car owners in case of a dispute since the contract terms are not pointed out.

Hidden fees

This section is part of the contract that highlights payment methods and policies. This part should state how much to ship a car, and when and how customers pay for the service. Also, it provides detailed statements showing the cost of each service and incurred fees separately. Otherwise, customers can expect to have surprising additional fees at delivery.

Unrealistic promises

If the contract contains terms different from what the shipping company has promised in the initial agreement, this is another red flag that car owners should be wary of. Sometimes auto shipping companies try to mislead car owners by telling them it is a customs procedure and doesn’t mean anything.

Still, some unreliable companies do this either because they lied about specific terms, like insurance coverage, or because they want to deny their responsibility for what they have pretended to be accountable for.

Negotiating a Fair Contract

Negotiating a fair auto transport contract includes asking for discounts, getting everything in writing, and clarifying terms.

  • Asking for discounts: Never hesitate to ask for a discount if you already qualify. Most auto shipping companies give special discounts to specific people, like army personnel, retirees, and college students.
  • Get everything in writing: Whether it is a discounted final shipping price or other significant terms customers and the carrier have agreed upon, everything should be written and detailed in the contract.
  • Clarifying terms: If the contract contains unclear or unfamiliar terms and clauses, the auto shipping company should always be willing to provide assistance and explain industry jargon.

Tempus Logix is a professional auto transport company with over eight years of experience in vehicle shipping. The company has successfully shipped over 45,000 vehicles and established an excellent reputation among its customers.

The Bottom Line

Understanding and reading the auto transport contract carefully before signing it is crucial for a safe process. There are a lot of important terms customers must pay attention to, like liability coverage, payment methods, and cancellation policies. Also, car owners should be cautious and avoid the common red flags in auto transport contracts, mainly vague language, hidden fees, and unrealistic promises.

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