What to Look For in the Best RV Shipping Services

Shipping a recreational vehicle (RV) or motorhome across the country requires a greater deal of expertise than shipping a regular car. An RV is much larger, for a start. The shipping company needs specialized equipment to ensure it’s loaded correctly and protected during the journey. Furthermore, RVs are essentially portable homes, which means they have accessories and appliances inside them that aren’t present in cars.

Simply put, you shouldn’t use a standard car shipping service when transporting an RV.

You need an RV delivery service that adheres to all of the regulations put in place by the United States Department of Transportation.

The question is, how do you find the best RV shipping services? This article answers that question by looking at the key issues you need to consider before selecting a carrier.

Shipping MethodIssue No. 1 – Shipping Method

Motorhome transportation services may use one of three shipping methods when transporting your vehicle.

  1. Flatbed
  2. Drive-Away
  3. Tow-Away

Flatbed transportation is the most common of the three. With this service, your RV is loaded onto a flatbed trailer, often alongside several other RVs. This flatbed is attached to a truck, which ships your RV to its destination. You usually have to drop off and pick up your vehicle at the shipping company’s terminals when using this method.

A drive-away service involves the transportation company sending a qualified driver to your location. That driver then personally drives your motorhome to its destination. This service is often the most cost-effective of the three because the driver doesn’t require any specialized equipment to ship your vehicle. They just need your keys and the ability to drive an RV safely. However, you have to place a lot of trust in the driver who’s responsible for your vehicle during shipping. Plus, the vehicle undergoes more wear and tear with this RV hauling service than it does with flatbed or tow-away transportation.

Tow-away services combine the personalized service of drive-away shipping with the vehicle protection offered by flatbed transit. Your RV is loaded onto a special towing trailer, which is connected to a truck. The driver then tows the trailer to its destination, where the vehicle is unloaded. Tow-away services often cost more because the driver can only transport a single RV during the journey. They also require specialized equipment. But this may be the best choice if you want to ensure you receive personalized service without creating wear and tear on your RV.

Choose which of these three shipping methods appeals most to you before you start gathering RV shipping quotes. Knowing the type of shipping method you want allows you to eliminate companies that don’t offer that method from your short list.

Issue No. 2 – Researching the Shipping Company

No two RV shipping companies are made alike. Every company has positives and negatives to consider before you make a decision. For example, one company may offer excellent customer service, though that comes at a higher price. Another may have more availability and lower costs, though you may not benefit from vehicle tracking or consistent calls from the carrier.

Researching a carrier’s website won’t tell you everything you need to know about them. While a website is a good indicator of a motorhome shipping company’s professionalism, it also provides you with a one-sided view of the carrier’s services. A company website is a marketing tool designed to encourage you to get in touch with the carrier.

You have to look beyond the website and conduct further research.

Start by confirming the shipping company’s credentials. Head to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Company Snapshot website. Enter the carrier’s name or USDOT number into the search bar to reveal the information the FMCSA has about the company. Ideally, you should see a profile that tells you the company has a USDOT number and up-to-date insurance credentials. Be wary of any carrier that doesn’t appear in a Snapshot search and any carrier that appears to have out-of-date details.

Assuming the basics check out, move on to online reviews. Social media and Google Reviews are usually your best sources. Read the feedback from previous customers, because this gives you a range of independent information about how the carrier operates. You’re looking for your motorhome transport service to have glowing reviews from the majority of customers. If you find a negative review, check how the carrier responds to it. If the company ignores such reviews or responds with vitriol, take that as a sign they offer less than stellar customer service.

By researching RV moving services online, you gain a clearer picture of the full scope of their services. It’s crucial to look beyond the marketing language on the company’s website so you can get opinions from people who’ve used the service before.

Issue No. 3 – Experience With RVs

Some companies specialize in shipping RVs. Others offer RV moving services along with more general vehicle shipping. Still others may offer general vehicle shipping while claiming they can help with motorhomes. This range of claims can make it difficult to determine which carrier is best suited to handle your RV.

In these situations, it’s always best to look for experience.

Contact the carrier to ask about the types of RVs they’ve shipped before. Quiz them about shipping methods they offer and ask how long they’ve been in business. Trustworthy companies should answer these questions quickly because they’re confident in the quality of service they provide. If a carrier that claims to offer a motorhome delivery service tries to dodge questions or attempts to tell you that shipping an RV is the same as transporting a car, you’ve just found a red flag. Avoid these types of companies in favor of carriers that are willing to demonstrate their level of experience and knowledge.

Issue No. 4 – Understand the Costs

As you whittle down your short list, you’ll eventually come to a point where you start collecting RV shipping quotes. Aim to gather at least three quotes, though collecting more is beneficial as it gives you a clearer picture of the true cost of shipping.

When comparing quotes, keep in mind that several factors affect the cost of shipping.

  • Gas prices
  • Seasonal demand
  • Your vehicle’s condition

On average, it costs $3.32 per mile to ship an RV less than 100 miles. This decreases to $1.05 when shipping 1,000 miles or more. These average prices may fluctuate depending on the price of gas when you make your inquiry. If gas prices are high when you collect quotes, expect to see that reflected in the price the carrier charges.

Seasonality relates to the demand for the carrier’s services. Most people prefer to engage motorhome transportation services during the summer. Shipping a vehicle during summer carries less risk because the weather is clearer and roads are generally safer. As a result, you can expect to pay more in summer than you would for winter shipping. The carrier has more demand and can raise its prices accordingly. If you want to keep costs low, consider shipping your RV during the winter, though you must recognize that doing so comes with weather- and road condition-related risks.

Your vehicle’s condition may affect the price you pay. Motorhome transport becomes more difficult if your vehicle is inoperable. The carrier has to use special equipment, such as cranes, to load your RV onto a trailer because they’re unable to simply drive it on. Plus, inoperable vehicles may be damaged to the point where they leak, which creates further issues for the carrier. Expect the increased challenges created by transporting inoperable vehicles to be reflected in your quote.

By understanding how these factors play into the costs incurred by RV moving services, you’re better able to determine which companies offer fair prices and which charge too much for delivery.

Issue No. 5 – Hidden Fees

Sticking with the RV shipping quotes consideration, you also have the issue of hidden fees to look out for.

Let’s assume you’ve collected several quotes. One of those quotes offers RV moving services for substantially less than the other quotes. While the low price you see on paper is tempting, it should also ring some alarm bells.

Why is the quote lower?

Often, an RV delivery service can provide lower quotes if it tacks on hidden or additional fees. For example, the company may quote a set rate for the journey but add fees for passing toll roads or driving through certain areas of the country. Or the company may charge exorbitant late fees if you’re unable to pick up your vehicle at the designated time.

These types of fees aren’t always incorporated into low quotes. Some carriers simply charge less because they’re trying to get your business. Still, you must understand every aspect of the quote you receive so you don’t get stung by fees you weren’t aware of later.

Issue No. 6 – RV Shipping Insurance

All RV moving services need to have liability insurance. This form of insurance is required to handle any claims you make as a result of your vehicle being damaged during transit. Many carriers have cargo insurance, which offers additional protection for the RV and its contents.

Avoid any company that can’t provide copies of insurance documents or a Certificate of Insurance for its policy.

Additionally, don’t assume that the insurance a carrier provides covers the full value of your motorhome. Check the coverage, because the carrier isn’t obligated to have insurance that covers your vehicle’s value. If you find that the carrier’s coverage isn’t enough, consider purchasing specialized RV shipping insurance from an independent provider. These policies cover your vehicle during transit and provide you with more peace of mind.

Note that most insurance policies won’t cover any items you leave inside your RV. If the vehicle contains valuables that are stolen or damaged during transit, you likely won’t be able to file a claim for them. As such, it’s best to remove personal items from the vehicle before it’s transported.

Issue No. 7 – Preparing Your Vehicle

The best RV moving services help you prepare your vehicle for shipping. They’ll either send instructions on what you need to do or send somebody to your vehicle so they can conduct an inventory. Even so, it’s best to understand how to prepare your RV properly so you reduce the possibility of the vehicle getting damaged during transit. Follow these quick tips.

  • Take a full inventory of any belongings you leave in the vehicle. While you should ideally remove any personal items before shipping, you may have vehicle-specific items that you want to transport with your RV. Keeping an inventory ensures you know what’s there and can check easily when you receive your RV.
  • Clean the RV and take photographs of its interior and exterior. Pay particular attention to any existing scuffs or damage. These photographs serve as your evidence if you need to make an insurance claim for damages that occur during shipping.
  • Remove any fragile items, such as glasses, mugs, and dishware, from the RV before shipping. Also, remove any perishables and flammable materials. You’ll likely find that your RV delivery service has a restricted items list. Ask for that list and remove any items that are on it.
  • Secure all doors, cupboards, and drawers with latches or locks. Use tape if you don’t have any other way to seal a drawer or cabinet.
  • Check for leaks and inform your carrier if you discover any. You may be held liable for damages if an undisclosed leak affects the shipping company’s equipment.

Find the Right RV Hauling Service

Quality RV moving services will get your motorhome from Point A to Point B safely. Now that you know the issues to consider when choosing a carrier, you’re in a better position to find a delivery service that’s capable of meeting the specific challenges that come with motorhome shipping.

Now, it’s time to start researching carriers.

At Ship Vehicles, we offer specialized RV shipping services throughout the United States. You get a choice of multiple shipping methods and benefit from working with a team that has extensive experience. If you’d like to learn more about what we do or wish to request a quote, get in touch at (888) 231-0113 or contact us online.