Auto Shipping Brokers, henceforth referred to simply as brokers, are essentially the middlemen between the customer (you) and the carriers (the actual vehicle shippers). There are a large number of brokers out there, and they make it a point to stay up to date on current trends and changes in the auto transport industry, so as to better inform and service their chief demographic.
A broker will start by figuring out what the customer needs, and then will encourage a large multitude of shipping companies to compete for the best deal in order to win the bid. Brokers also have access to freight load boards, where they can post the jobs, and see which carriers might have transport resources in the relevant areas. Because a broker has additional means by which to research, they can often find a better deal than a customer might be able to access on their own.
Once the broker can facilitate an arrangement between the customer and the carrier, he will put the two entities in contact, and at this point, his job is essentially done. From there on out, the shipping company will assume all responsibility and must provide adequate insurance to cover the job at hand. It is, however, important to note that oftentimes brokers and carriers are not mutually exclusive, and that some auto shipping companies provide brokerage services as well.
Changes in Policy
In 2012, President Obama signed a measure that would put additional stringent requirements on brokers in the auto transport industry. The main implement of the act required brokers to raise the minimum mandatory bond from $10K to $75K. It also allows the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to review license status every 5 years and potentially revoke a broker’s license in the event of unethical business practices. The “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” also allowed for more severe prerequisites for obtaining a broker license in the first place. It was put into effect in October of 2013, and has helped raise consumer confidence in auto transport brokers in general.
Should you use a broker?
If you are considering enlisting the help of a broker in your search for a compatible auto transport company, it is important to ensure your broker is properly licensed. Due to the low start-up costs to open a brokerage online, there has been a great influx of new brokers, many who may not be qualified or properly licensed. Unfortunately, this has led to a large number of consumer-generated complaints regarding incompetent or even unscrupulous broker practices. While utilizing a broker may help some find the best deal, others may feel more comfortable with putting in the legwork and researching independently to find the best match in an auto transport company.