Recently there has been an increasing number of “Neutral Venue” reverse auction bid type shipping websites advertising motorcycle transport services. These services allow customers to post their motorcycle shipment details on their website in hopes of securing bids on their shipment. These websites have transport service providers who bid on shipments. What the general public often does not understand is these “Neutral Venue” websites allow unlicensed and uninsured transporters to bid on motorcycle shipments.
These “Neutral Venue” websites allow unlicensed/uninsured transporters to transport motorcycles illegally and at great risk to their customers. It appears that the vast majority of motorcycle shippers on these websites do not have Department of Transportation (DOT) or Motor Carrier (MC) license numbers and also do not have cargo insurance.
Below is an example of a disclaimer “Neutral Venue” websites might note in their terms of service:
“Neutral Venue. Our site acts as a venue where shipping customers and transporters can meet and enter into agreements. We are not involved in the actual transaction between shipping customers and transporters. As a result, we have no control over the quality, safety, or legal aspects of the transactions that take place on our website. We do not prequalify or validate the claims of transporters including with respect to their licensure, insurance and registration.”
As you can see, these “Neutral Venue” websites do not qualify the transporters bidding on motorcycle shipments on their website. The Department of Transportation requires “for hire” transporters to be licensed and carry cargo insurance. You should always ask any bike transporter you are considering for their DOT and MC numbers. If the transporter does not have these numbers they are operating illegally when they transport a motorcycle across state lines. If the transporter does not have an active and current DOT and MC number they cannot have cargo insurance that covers your bike for theft or damage. Do not be fooled by transporters that say they have a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) that licenses their truck. The CDL only licenses the driver, it does not license the truck. Also, if the transporter says they have insurance and they do not have a DOT and MC number their insurance only covers their truck and trailer, it does not cover your motorcycle for theft or damage. Remember, the only insurance that will cover your motorcycle during transport is cargo insurance and the only way a transporter can have cargo insurance is to have active and current DOT and MC license numbers. Additionally, if an illegal transporter is caught by DOT official transporting your motorcycle there is a high likelihood their truck will get impounded by the DOT and your bike will likely get impounded also. You will face significant challenges getting your bike out of impoundment in a timely manner and you could be responsible for significant impound storage fees.
There is one more step to verifying a transporter is DOT compliant. You must go to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website, enter the DOT or MC number for the transporter and review the status of their license and their cargo insurance to make sure their license and cargo insurance is not expired or suspended. You should also make sure the company name on the FMCSA website matches the company name of the transporter bidding on your shipment. Here is a link to the FMCSA website: http://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov/LIVIEW/pkg_carrquery.prc_carrlist