We have previously discussed a few things shippers should understand when they start shipping truckloads. Unlike LTL, the full truckload world is characterized by a very large number of carriers. They come in all shapes and forms, from a one-man operation to a large carrier with thousands of company trucks. What does it mean for shippers and/or brokers?
Obviously, we cannot hand the loads over to a random carrier we know nothing about. Unfortunately, damaged or stolen freight is not unheard of when it comes to full truckloads. With the amount of carriers out there, we need to do our best to make sure we are entrusting our freight to a legitimate carrier with acceptable safety and service levels.
What should you be checking?
Make sure a carrier has an active motor property authority. Pay attention to the authority type and make sure they are not a broker to avoid double-brokerage scenarios.
The best way to do this is to review carrier safety scores on FMCSA Safer. You will be able to review general safety rating – it’s highly recommended to stay away from carriers with “Conditional” and “Unsatisfactory” rating. We suggest you review carrier inspections as well to see the general trends they are following.
Even if everything looks good on the safety side, take the time to look at their insurance. Before handing your load over to a carrier, make sure their insurance covers your freight. Always check the expiration date as well.
Most 3PL’s have certain minimum requirements, usually $100,000 min cargo liability and $1,000,000 min auto liability. If the freight value exceeds general requirements, additional insurance is usually required.
These are the basics of carrier vetting. Does is guarantee that nothing will go wrong? Of course not, but it greatly minimizes the risks.
Experienced brokers and 3PL’s rely not only on the above vetting practices, but also internal carrier performance monitoring practices. Most importantly, they focus on building long-term carrier relationships and work with carriers they know and trust.