3 Important Tips When Shipping a Car with Personal Items

by | 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.

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 provide three important tips here on how to properly ship a car with personal belongings. If you’re going to ship a car with us and are planning to ship personal items with your vehicle, we encourage you to read our personal belongings policy.

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 closed tote, and the tote is secured in the back seat and is below the windows)

shipping a car with personal items

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 windows 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 mirrors.

This is an 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 – $500 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 customers often ship their vehicles with some personal belongings. While it is rarely an issue, 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. We provide this example 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 highly valuable or sentimental and as a result not easily replaced, then don’t ship them with your vehicle!

It may not seem like a big deal to ship your vehicle with personal belongings but in the auto transport industry it’s a big deal because of the strict weight limits that car carriers must adhere to. They say real estate is all about location, location, location. In the auto transport industry it’s all about weight, weight, weight! Any weight beyond the vehicle has to be accounted for. Otherwise, car carriers can be fined or forced to load fewer cars, which costs carriers money that is passed on to the customer. It’s best to ship your vehicles with us and to ship your personal belongings with U-Haul!