a woman reading about the insurance required when shipping a car overseas.

Learning how much coverage you need before beginning the process will save you time and hassle.

Key takeaways

  • You could have many reasons for needing to ship a vehicle overseas
  • Insurance is essential
  • Various shipping and insurance types exist
  • A shipping broker can streamline the entire process for you

Many reasons for shipping a car overseas exist: moving to another country, selling a vehicle to someone abroad, purchasing a car you can’t find locally, or taking your car with you on a lengthy vacation.

However, shipping a car overseas sounds overwhelming; many people won’t even try. You’ll have to locate a carrier, get the vehicle ready for departure, plan for pick-up, and pay for the service. 

The logistics of shipping a car this far are challenging to comprehend, but the job is possible, and some carriers specialize in this. Car shipping brokers are also available to assist.

If you proceed with overseas car shipping, you’ll need to consider insurance. This coverage protects your vehicle should something go awry, and helps you avoid additional costs caused by unique maritime laws.

Here’s information about the insurance required when shipping a car overseas. 

Overseas shipping methods

You’ll have a couple of shipping options available to you for shipping a car overseas, both of which involve putting the vehicle on a boat. While it’s sometimes possible to ship a car on an airplane, finding carriers offering that service is far more challenging, and the service is more expensive.

Assuming you go with boat shipping, you can choose between containerized and roll-on, roll-off methods. Containerized shipping involves carriers placing your vehicle in a shipping receptacle. Each container fits about six cars, allowing you to split the cost with others.

The other common shipping method is roll-on and roll-off, which involves shipping via the boat’s car decks. It’s similar to boarding a ferry with your vehicle, except you won’t be present, and it’s a much longer trip. Containerized shipping is the more expensive option, although it’s also safer and more secure.

What can go wrong while shipping overseas

If you’ve ever been on a boat in the middle of the ocean, you know what can happen. Storms and high winds can quickly cause flooding on a ship, damaging a vehicle’s upholstery and other components. Damage can occur if the carrier doesn’t adequately secure the car. In this scenario, the vehicle could roll into other automobiles or objects and do significant damage. 

Dents and broken windshields could occur while the car is in transit, and there’s a small risk of a fire breaking out on board. A sometimes forgotten risk when shipping any cargo overseas is a General Average ruling. The gist: where the entire ship is in trouble, the crew could dump some of its load to save the boat. 

However, every cargo owner must then chip in to compensate for the lost cargo. The result is an additional port expense before the crew releases your car. A recent example of a General Average declaration occurred when the Ever Forward was stuck in shallow water in the Chesapeake Bay for over a month.

These scenarios do occur, and there’s no predicting them, making your insurance policy very important. 

Insurance types

Your existing car insurance policy won’t provide coverage while shipping your vehicle overseas. You’ll need additional coverage to ensure your car has protection. Ask your carrier about any insurance they provide. From there, you can fill in the blanks. 

In many cases, marine-cargo shipping insurance provides coverage between ports. You can speak with your car insurance provider about this additional policy and get quotes from various sources. Depending on what your insurance agency has available, you might have to seek a third-party provider. 

Without shipping insurance, the Carriage of Goods at Sea Act limits compensation. This law caps your coverage at $500 if your vehicle incurs any damage while on the ship.

Your insurance company will likely provide two options: total-loss insurance and all-risk shipping insurance. Total-loss insurance only provides compensation if damage renders the vehicle a write-off during transit. It doesn’t provide coverage for minor damage, nor does it offer protection against General Average charges.

All-risk shipping insurance covers any damage that occurs when shipping a vehicle by sea, rail, air, or road. All scratches, dents, and water damage are included, and the policy protects against charges due to a General Average ruling.

How much insurance should you purchase?

Speaking with your insurance agent before signing up for any policy is essential to ensure you have adequate coverage. You’ll need an international car insurance policy, too, if you plan to drive your car in an overseas country after shipping it. Your U.S. plan will be acceptable in Alaska or Hawaii.

It’s generally advisable to go with an all-risk policy, especially since you could incur additional charges if the ship runs into trouble during transit. You’ll also want to verify your policy includes coverage while loading and unloading the vehicle from the vessel. 

There are many variables involved when purchasing overseas car shipping insurance, so ask a lot of questions to avoid surprises.

Finding an overseas shipping provider

Locating a company that provides overseas shipping can be a challenge. Many auto transport carriers don’t offer this service, so you’ll have to look to vendors specializing in it. 

Mercury Auto Transport is a car shipping broker that connects with carriers who can ship to Hawaii or Alaska. We offer free, customized quotes on this service, streamlining the entire process and ensuring you have all the information necessary to make your decision.

Contact Mercury Auto Transport today to learn more or receive your free quote


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