3 Important Tips When Shipping a Car with Personal Items

by | Feb 2, 2021 | Transport Tips

We’re often asked about shipping a car with personal items in it. Specifically we’re asked, can I put stuff in my car when I ship it? The short answer is yes, but there are important caveats.

First, personal items are not covered by the carrier’s cargo insurance. You ship them at your own risk! Second, damage that occurs to your vehicle because of your personal belongings is not covered either. For example, if your car has household goods bouncing around in the inside that causes damage to the interior, that damage isn’t covered. Likewise, if a thief smashes in your window to get to your belongings, that damage isn’t covered either.

We strongly recommend that you have your own auto insurance coverage on your vehicle when shipping a car and belongings together if you want your personal items covered.

We only allow up to 100 lbs. of personal belongings and we don’t charge extra for them.

There are a few things to keep in mind when shipping a car and belongings together:

1. Secure and “hide” your personal items.

You’ll need to secure your personal belongings so they aren’t moving around the vehicle during the transport, potentially damaging the vehicle. Remember, as I mentioned earlier, damage done to the vehicle as a result of your personal belongings is not covered by the carrier’s cargo insurance. We recommend you put your stuff in suitcases, duffle bags, or boxes and then make sure they are secured and aren’t going to move around easily.

This is a perfect example of how to properly ship personal items in a vehicle.
(the belongings are safely stored in a tote and the totes are secured to the vehicle)

shipping a car with personal belongings

The other thing we ask is that you keep your personal belongings “out of sight” as best as you can. You might hear the phrase, “below the window line.” This simply means to keep your personal belongings below the window line of your vehicle so they aren’t easily seen. While your vehicle will be safely secured on the trailer and in the driver’s sight most of the time, the driver will have to take bathroom breaks and may need to grab a bite to eat or fuel up. And if it’s more than a day’s transport, he’ll be sleeping overnight.

You don’t want to tempt a thief with personal belongings that are easily seen through the windows. We highly recommend you put your personal items and household goods in the trunk of your vehicle if possible for optimum security.

The other reason you want to keep your personal belongings below the window line is so the driver can safely drive your vehicle on and off the trailer. He needs to be able to clearly see through the windows and he needs to be able to use the rear view mirror.

This is a perfect example of how NOT to ship personal belongings in a vehicle!
(the personal items are filled to the roof of the car and are not packed or secured properly)

shipping a car with stuff in it

Word of WARNING: If a driver shows up to pick up your vehicle with personal items packed like that, he may refuse to take your vehicle for liability and safety reasons! At the very least, you will incur additional charges. Typically if a driver shows up and your car is filled to the roof like that, you’ll pay anywhere from $200 – $300 extra. You want to keep personal belongings to a minimum and you want them packed securely in the vehicle.

I hate to beat a dead horse, but I can’t emphasize it enough, anything that happens to your personal belongings, or any damage to the vehicle that occurs because of the personal belongings, are not covered by the carrier’s cargo insurance. If a thief smashes in your window to get to your personal belongings, repairing that window will not be covered, nor will the stolen belongings be covered.

2. Shipping a car with personal items isn’t without risk.

Many of our transports are for people moving from one state to another, or are snowbirds making a temporary move down South, so we ship vehicles with stuff in them all the time. It is rarely an issue but it’s not 100% without risk.

We had a customer who had $2,000 worth of tools locked in the toolbox that was attached to the bed of his truck. He wanted us to pick up his truck from a parking lot he thought was secure. Before the driver arrived, a thief picked the lock on the toolbox and stole all his tools! Fortunately, his personal auto insurance covered his loss, but it was a major headache for him to deal with. I tell this story not to scare you but to demonstrate the real risk of shipping personal belongings with your vehicle.

3. Use common sense when shipping stuff with your car.

When shipping stuff with your car, we always tell our customers to use common sense. If the personal belongings are easily replaced, then go for it. But if they are highly valuable or sentimental and as a result not easily replaced, then don’t ship them with your vehicle!

What about shipping a car and belongings together going to or from Alaska?

Shipping personal belongings with your car to Alaska gets more complicating. As with any car shipping, personal items are not covered by cargo insurance. You ship them at your own risk.

The company we partner with to ship cars to and from Alaska charges extra for personal belongings. We simply pass those costs along to our customers. They charge $85 per 100 pounds of personal belongings when going from Tacoma, WA to Anchorage, AK, and $75 per 100 pounds of personal belongings when going from Anchorage, AK to Tacoma, WA.

The other stipulation the shipping company has when shipping personal belongings in your car is that you have to have your vehicle officially weighed. This requires you to drive your vehicle to a truck stop or a truck weigh station and have the vehicle officially weighed with and without the personal belongings in your vehicle.

You’ll get two weight slips after doing this. The shipping company then uses these weight slips to determine how many pounds of personal belongings you have so they know what to charge you (and so they can keep track of the weight going on the ship).

As you can see, it’s not cheap and it’s a bit of a hassle to ship personal belongings in your vehicle when going to Alaska or from Alaska so most of our customers don’t do it.

Shipping a car and belongings together is totally up to you but let common sense be your guide. If your personal belongings are highly valuable or sentimental and not easily replaced, don’t ship them with your car! Otherwise, feel free to ship them but understand they are not covered by cargo insurance and that you ship them at your own risk. Also understand we only allow up to 100 pounds of personal belongings.

1 Comment

  1. Eli Richardson

    It’s great that you talked about how to set up your stuff when shipping it on your car. Recently, one of my aunts said she’s coming back to her hometown. My aunt wants to ship all her stuff from another state and wants to include her car, so I’ll be sure to share your guide with her. Thanks for the advice on how to transport your belongings safely in your car’s shipment.

    Reply

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