While searching the internet for overland boat transport you will most likely come across many boat transport brokers, agents, transport companies and owner / operators. The key is knowing the difference and making the best choice for your needs and budget. Know that everyone who legally engages in commercial trucking must be properly licensed and insured. Be diligent and check, don’t just take their word for it as that is the easiest way to lose.
Boat Transport Owner / Operators
Owner / operators are boat transport companies that answer there own phone and emails, book there own loads, do there own scheduling and operate there own equipment. They are lone individuals or sometimes husband and wife teams. They are typically specialized haulers of boats only. The upside to an owner / operator is the personal service and piece of mind that you are dealing directly with the person that is going to transport your boat. Traditionally you can expect a much higher level of service from the one who has there own name on the line. The down side is that since they are just one truck and trailer their schedule is much tighter. Plan and book early as two to four months in advance is not uncommon. It never hurts to get a free quote and current time frame.
Boat Transport Companies
Boat transport companies are very similar to boat transport owner / operators. Some differ by employing salespeople who quote and book your transport, others use hired drivers. In this case you have little control of who you are dealing with over the phone. More importantly, little control over who is actually transporting your boat. It could be the veteran boat transporter that has been transporting boats their entire career. Another could be the career driver who has very limited experience loading, supporting, securing, or transporting boats. Worst, it could be the new guy fresh out of driving school. In some cases the owner of the company takes on a office role. Others are out driving in the fleet. In any case, while you’re looking ask questions up front to avoid any surprises later.
Boat Transport Brokers
A boat transport broker is not an owner / operator or boat transport company. Brokers do not have capabilities transport companies have. They don’t own trucks and trailers or employ drivers. In many cases they don’t have much physical transport experience at all. Transport brokers are salespeople who contact owner / operators or trucking companies on your behalf. They then add their markup and sell it to you. Even worse some sell you on a price then attempt to find someone to do the job for less so they can still profit. In this case sometimes the broker is not able to find anyone in time and you can get stuck without a transporter on the day of your move. When you call or email someone for a quote make sure to ask the company whether they are an actual transport company or a broker.
Boat Transport Agents or Others
Boat transport agents or online transport websites are neither boat transport brokers or companies. Many have sprung up over the years. I have yet to find one that is legal or properly insured. These are people or companies that are attempting to work around the laws. For instance, by law, if you are a “transport broker” you are required to have proof of insurance coverage: a surety bond or trust fund agreement in the amount of $75,000. So they figure if they just call them self a transport agent, most people wouldn’t notice the difference, and since they’re not a broker they don’t need any of that. As you have probably already realized that’s not true at all. If you choose to hire one of these “agents” you’re taking a huge risk as if something happens to your boat it’s all on you.