Auto Transport Brokers vs. Carriers: Similarities and Differences

June 7, 2020 3d rendered illustration of a car inside of a container

You may not know all they do, but auto transport brokers and carriers have been around almost since the invention of the automobile. The market size of auto transportation and carrier business is around $12 billion per year, with over 4,500 auto transport companies. Many people need an auto transport broker or carrier when they are moving and need to get their vehicle delivered to their new home in a different state or even different country.

Sometimes people find the car of their dreams in a different state and have to get their dream car delivered to their home. It doesn’t matter what the reason is for needing a car transported across the country; it only matters how much it will cost, how reputable the company is. You want to know what skill sets do the drivers have or what their auto transportation or carrier broker experience is?

Read on to find out the differences between an auto transport broker and carrier. What’s more, find out about how it can make a difference to you when you are on the move and need your automobile moved.

Auto Transport Brokers

Auto transport and carriers stay busy as long as individuals and the auto industry keeps selling cars. However, there is a difference between the two. Knowing what the differences are can help your auto transport experience be a productive and useful one that meets your objectives. Auto transport brokers offer you fast service and will give you a wide variety of quotes and options to consider for your auto transportation needs.

Auto transport carriers usually only have a couple of transport vehicles in which to move your car, but they are route and road experts and can save you wasted time on roads you never knew existed. What’s more, the auto transport carrier offers you a direct line of communication, so you know whats going on at all times while your vehicle is being moved.

Finding the Right Auto Transport Broker

That’s why finding the right auto transport broker or carrier is so vital to the equation of getting the car shipped, driven, or transported to its final destination. Brokers are considered the logistical management partner for every customer that hires an auto transport broker.

The broker is the customer’s business partner in transporting one of their most valuable assets, which are their automobile. Not only is the broker the business partner to the customer, but they serve as a business partner to every auto carrier. Their platform uses logistic management and vital communication exchanges to track the supply of auto, the demand, the autos on the road that are in transfer, and the current market rates.

What Are The Job Duties of Auto Transport Brokers and Carriers?

When you’re dealing with auto transport brokers and carriers, work your account through five sub-categories of service. These five sub-categories include but aren’t limited to:

  1. Price
  2. Availability
  3. Customer experience and knowledge
  4. Reputation
  5. Insurance

When you have over 400 million Americans moving every year, the five categories listed above need to be fully defined, implemented and deliver a satisfactory result when they deliver your automobile.

Breakdown of Duties for Transport Brokers

A good auto transport broker can be your best advocate in making sure the customer and carrier are in sync and on the same page throughout the auto transportation process. That means a reputable auto transport broker will ensure that customers are charged reasonable rates that both the carrier and customer agree upon. Some of the more common duties of an auto transport broker are:

  • Brokers will communicate about where your vehicle is, how it is doing and in general answer all your questions
  • Brokers can find options and choices for you to consider through a nationwide database of reputable carriers
  • Brokers ensure that customer vehicles are insured under the carrier cargo insurance and not a broker’s bond
  • Brokers must carry liability but not necessarily any insurance needed in covering your automobile
  • Brokers do carry a surety bond that ensures carriers can bear claims as well as any other business partner noted
  • Brokers can respond to your transportation needs quickly and can often pick up your automobile the same day you call or email
  • Brokers will give you a copy of the carrier’s certificate of insurance if you need it

Most auto transport brokers hold insurance around $1,000,000 combined single limit and $250,000 per incident. All auto transport brokers are supposed to be licensed, bonded, and are heavily regulated if they want to contract with any customer or carrier. Many brokers have carrier licenses and can manage your auto transportation process from beginning to end with door-to-door service.

Breakdown of Duties of an Auto Transport Carrier

Auto transport carriers are the ones on the road you see that are operating the trucks that ships your vehicle. Carriers work hand-in-hand with brokers because it’s the broker that has the carrier network of choices they offer to customers. Even one driver who owns a truck that can deliver a car can be called a carrier.

If you have one person who is acting as the auto transport carrier, they usually are part of a broker’s schedule of shipments, and they will have to verify their licenses, cargo insurance, and USDOT credentials. Some carriers are considered large carriers and they have an entire fleet of trucks they can use. There are many times that large carriers work with brokers or owner-operators if extra transportation resources are needed.

That being said, you also have a hybrid position that lies somewhere between a broker and a carrier. These are the licensed brokers that also have a fleet of trucks, making them broker-carriers. In the end, it doesn’t matter is the company is a broker or a carrier or a broker-carrier; they should let you know what they are and what auto transport services they will be providing you.

Classic Car Brokerage

There may be nothing more stressful for a classic car owner than having any of his classic cars transported. By using one in an extensive network of certified truckers who’ve been trained and are experienced on how to handle, securely load, and transport your classic car, you can sleep better at night. There are auto brokers who will transport your classic auto at reasonable prices while providing prestigious open carrier service.

Many classic car owners decide they want to transport their car through a premium service in an enclosed carrier structure that optimizes safety while on the road. Every classic car owner has some type of emotional connection with their classic cars. Often the reason they buy a classic car can be matched to the feeling of an art collector purchasing a fabulous painting or sculpture.

Because it takes a lot of effort, time, and talent to bring a classic car back to its original glory, the cost can be expensive and is considered part of the car’s investment value. You rarely see classic car owners driving their classic car investment across the country. Almost all of them will use a professional auto transport service to save their car from enduring any harsh weather conditions or crazy other drivers on the road.

Auto Transport Broker Industry

The auto transport broker industry changes all the time, and it’s shaped by the car market it serves. That’s why there have been changes in the auto transporter market, and there is now a cross-breed auto transport business that somewhere between being a broker and a carrier. It usually happens when auto transporters have been in business for over five years and have acquired an extensive network of contacts in the industry.

These large network brokers are able to create these strong relationships due to the constant flow of weekly routes they use with their qualified carriers. When the cross-breed auto transport business also serves as the carriers that offer some of the best service providers for customers. That’s because they’re using top-level professionals they have been working with for years.

Shipping Broker

Finding a good shipping broker for your vehicle is like finding a perfect lawyer for your case or builder for your house. You want your auto shipping broker to have a lot of industry knowledge behind them with an excellent reputation. But if you get a shipping broker that doesn’t have the industry knowledge they say they do, it will sometimes result in an unregulated or unlicensed auto transport service that ends up costing you more money than it should.

An auto shipping broker should always be easy to reach because your car’s transportation needs often count on it. Good shipping brokers are available seven days a week when answering questions or arranging a service need. If an auto shipping broker has a truck that breaks down or delays, they can’t always explain you need to move on to another broker.

Also, a reputable auto shipping broker will never tell you one price and then tell you another once your vehicle is in transport. The bait and switch routine exists in almost every industry, and auto transportation shipping is not an exception. Be wary of anyone in the auto shipping industry who tells you a price but cannot break it down for you with details and never provides you with a contract that locks in the price.

Transport Broker Oversight

Like any other business or industry person you’re hiring, it’s good to check them out, and an auto transport broker or carrier is no exception. To do this thoroughly and satisfactorily, try to first go to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) which is always the right place to start. No business or person can buy a review through on the BBB website, so try to use review sites like the BBB when determining which auto transport broker fits your needs the best.

You can also go to Yelp, which has become an excellent review website to look for business and industry reviews. Always try to pay attention to the negative review and try to determine where things went wrong and how each party responded in kind. Negative experiences can sometimes happen even with the most stellar auto transport broker companies.

The important thing is how the business handled the negative experience and what they did to make it right for the customer. Brokers want to be flexible so they can fit your auto transport needs best, and that means they will try to find a car carrier with open spots that will be where you need them to be when you need them to be there. But always remember a broker is only as good as their carrier, and they don’t have any direct control over any pickup or transit time a carrier gives them.

Is an Auto Transport Broker or a Carrier Best for You?

In the end, you have to determine which is best for your auto transport needs? You now know what auto transport brokers and carriers provide you as well as those things they cannot promise or guarantee. Making the right auto transportation decision is based on a lot of moving parts like where the vehicle is headed to, it is a classic car, who has the best liability insurance, what stops will be made, and more.

Reach out to Nexus Auto Transport when you’re ready to have your auto logistics handled professionally with a management style that helps ensure your auto transport carrier load goes where it needs to go and will be there when it needs to be there. Carriers work with brokers like Nexus Auto Transport because they know they can deliver vehicles to customers that need them in their new location as soon as possible. When you’re ready to start the next chapter of your life in a new location, make sure you have your vehicle with you to explore and enjoy the new sights and sounds around you.