Auto Transport Broker vs. Carrier Facts

November 7, 2019
Vasilka Atanasova
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Learn all about the auto transport broker-carrier relationship. Review our guide and call us with any questions. Corsia Logistics team is honest and reliable. We explain how auto transport industry functions, we explain what is a current and realistic market price that will ship a vehicle now, and then we work with our customers to offer the best possible solution. This is how we operate because this is what an honest and reputable auto transport broker and carrier company does.

What is an auto transport broker?

Corsia Logistics

Brokers are the logistics management partner to every customer, and the most important business partner to every carrier. They provide a platform for management and communication, track supply and demand and quote current market rates.

How do auto transport brokers work?

Brokers negotiate on customer’s behalf and make sure customer and carrier are on the same page throughout the process. Honest, professional and reliable brokers work with all parties involved, in constant contact, to make sure the price is right both for the customer and for the carrier.

  1. Brokers have access to nationwide database of carriers
  2. They can often arrange same day pick-up of any vehicle
  3. You can always call your broker to track your vehicle and ask questions
  4. Brokers are strictly regulated, licensed and bonded to contract with customers and carriers
  5. They carry liability, however, a broker does not provide the insurance that covers your vehicle
  6. They have surety bond that can bear claims from carriers and other business partners
  7. Customers vehicles are insured under the carrier cargo insurance, not the broker’s bond
  8. The broker can provide you with the carrier’s certificate of insurance at any time for peace of mind

Brokers manage the loads, once they have contracted with a customer, while carriers are responsible for loading, unloading and driving.

Brokers do not perform the transport service themselves, but they find the best rated carrier that runs your route at your specified time frame to transport your vehicle.

Many brokers have both carrier and a broker license. A broker will work with you on a rate to accommodate your budget and will manage the process from pick-up to delivery. Reliable brokers stay in touch with their customer until they receive their vehicle at the drop-off point. This is what Corsia offers – door-to-door service!

Claims that brokers’ fees are non-refundable, no matter what, are not true. A broker will always refund a deposit, if they have not been able to find a carrier, meaning provide a service. When a broker has done their job to find and contract with a carrier, and then a customer decides to cancel an order, only at that point the broker fee is not refundable. It is a standard policy in most industries – once a service has been provided the payment cannot be claimed back.

What is a vehicle hauling carrier?

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A carrier can be a one-man company, with one or two trucks, or a big auto transport company with hundreds of trucks. Single owner operators make up about 80 percent of the whole fleet in the US.

Most auto transport carriers only serve a limited number of routes. They do not divert too far from their designated routes because this would ultimately mean slower service and higher rates.

  1. A vehicle hauling carrier is usually a double deck truck that can load up to ten automobiles.
  2. Such trucks are driven by professional CDL drivers trained in loading, unloading and transporting vehicles.
  3. The drivers are usually owners of one or few trucks and they decides on their routes.
  4. The truck driver is the person responsible for picking up and delivering your vehicle.
  5. By law every carrier must carry a cargo insurance, with a minimum usually of $250 000.

Some bigger carrier companies are registered brokers as well, which gives them the opportunity to sub-contract your order to another carrier. This means that even when you think you are dealing with a carrier, in some instances, you sill go through a broker service. Most auto transport carriers do not have an online presence and customers cannot find information about their performance and quality of services. Safety ratings are usually available to broker companies.

Dealing with a carrier company does not mean customers will pay less. A service costs what it costs. Whether we are talking about time, equipment and the specific job of loading, unloading and driving, or to find and deal with customers, it all costs time, effort and money.

What is the difference between brokers and carriers?

This is a commonly asked question when it comes to shipping any type of vehicle. We will not be stacking cards against neither carriers nor brokers. Our position is that a fair and efficient system depends on the professional relationship between brokers and carriers.

Considering all we said about brokers and carriers, we can summarize it here so you can see the differences.

A broker is a logistics management entity, a partner to its customers and carriers. The broker handles the management and offers its carriers loads. Brokers work as much as carriers, often spending 12 hours a day behind their desk on the computer and the phone.

The carriers accept loads from their brokers or shippers at a price they find reasonable, usually consulted with national dispatch boards. They know best the cost of moving a load and thus they define market prices. Carriers deliver vehicles to customers and their work day is usually 8 hours of regulated driving.

We would like to say that the main difference is that one is sitting behind a desk while the other is sitting behind the wheel. However, the stress and responsibility at the job is similar and equally shared. That applies to dispatchers as well.

When it comes to similarities, this is what you should know.

  • Both entities must register with the FMCSA and the DOT and get licensed.
  • Both carriers and brokers contract with customers to transport their vehicles.
  • A carrier company contracts that its own trucks will transport your vehicle, while the broker company contracts with carriers to ship your car.
  • Both carriers and brokers cannot guarantee pick-up and delivery dates.
  • It is not true that a carrier company can guarantee dates. In the auto transport industry dates are simply never guaranteed. Road, whether or truck condition can delay the transport service at any point in time during transit.
  • Guaranteed pick-up and delivery dates could be arranged only for a premium rate and both a broker and carrier will tell you this.
  • Both carriers and brokers offer door to door car shipping service. Yet neither of them can guarantee this type of service. If your area is restricted by narrow streets or residential rules and regulations, a large truck may not be allowed to enter.

Why are there broker and carrier companies?

Brokers and carriers are equally important for the functioning of a fair and competitive industry.

In today’s market economy competition is important because it creates a system of checks and balances. Just like in many other industries, the engine of the auto transport industry is all small and midsize broker and carrier companies that work together on daily basis. This system of constant partnership keeps the prices competitive and does not allow monopolization of the market by large corporations.

How do I choose an auto transport company?

In the auto transport industry both carriers and brokers aim at offering the best possible service. They do their job and they get paid for it. This is how it works in every industry. The car shipping rates are dictated by several factors, not by brokers or carriers alone. The most important part of the equation is to work with a trustworthy company.

Brokers are licensed to manage logistics cargo  and contract with carriers to delivery that cargo. Reliable broker companies work for their customers to match them with an appropriate carrier. Most auto transport carriers in the US are small 1-2 trucks companies that only cover a limited number of routes.

Customers often think they should work with carrier only, but for a customer to find a carrier that runs their desired route, has an open spot for their desired dates the chances are close to impossible.

Most carriers do not have online presence and there is no way for a customer to find them. If you can find a carrier that matches your criteria you can certainly book with them. However, most carriers are visible only to brokers on national dispatch boards where a broker can check their license, insurance and safety ratings.

A small number of large logistic companies are both a carrier and a broker, but they do not serve the whole country. Moreover, small carrier and broker companies keep the industry from monopolization such big companies could impose on the industry. If you still have any questions, please call us. We are here to help you understand how shipping a car works, and give you peace of mind. Thank you!



Brokers have nowhere near the stress of a driver nor I’d a drivers day 8hrs of driving.

That’s the first part before the required 30min break than its 3 hrs more.

This is a good article but not correct in all aspects.

November 24, 2019
Vasilka Atanasova

Thank you for your comment Will! I totally agree that the driver’s job is difficult and different than that of the broker. That being said, broker’s job is not easy at all. They also often work 10-12 hours a day to make sure the shipping process goes smoothly for both the customer and the carrier. Both entities are equally important, however, not all carriers and brokers are created equal.

It is really about doing our part, and doing it correctly.

November 26, 2019

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