Redwood Blog

Flatbed Carriers & Liability: Five Reasons Brokers are Relevant

It can be common for shippers to think that brokers do not have a full understanding of liability, safety, loading requirements, and securement practices because they don’t have their own trucks. This idea might be true in some cases, but specialized flatbed brokers are experts in their field. Partnering with a broker that has a strong database of carrier information, an extremely knowledgeable team, an experienced driver base, and years of experience can be a make a difference in optimizing a shipper’s supply chain. There are many reasons to find the right broker partner – to do so you just have to ask the right questions.

Flatbed on an Open Sky

If you want to maximize truck capacity and keep your supply chain moving safely, here are five reasons you should consider booking your loads through an experienced flatbed broker.

1. Communication of all key loading and handling requirements

The right broker will have detailed data in its transportation management system on all of the key loading and handling requirements, including equipment needs such as straps, tarps, chains, dunnage, coil racks, and pipe stacks. When the load is entered, the broker’s TMS will automatically exclude flatbed carriers that lack the necessary equipment.

2. Experience with your product

In the flatbed world, freight is not just freight. For instance, if you have a coil load or a shipment of heavy steel pipes, you don’t want to entrust that shipment to a flatbed driver or carrier that has never handled a similar load. Choose a broker who cancan speak clearly about the freight requirements, communicate those requirements to the driver, and utilize their TMS to assign the perfect carrier. The ideal broker will have long-standing relationships and knowledge of its carriers, with a detailed record of the carriers’ capabilities in its database.

3. Selection of pre-approved carriers

Let’s face it, sometimes available capacity, not safety, drives decisions on carrier choice —particularly if your back is against the wall and you use load boards to find a flatbed carrier. Use of a sophisticated broker is a far safer choice. A good broker will have a record of the company’s DOT safety score for each carrier. Before engaging a broker you can discuss your minimum safety record requirement. The broker can then leverage its system to eliminate flatbed carriers that fall short of that standard. In addition, brokers have a built-in incentive to use safe, qualified flatbed carriers since poor carrier performance reflects poorly on the broker.

4. Adherence to liability requirements

Sophisticated brokers ensure that the carrier has the requisite insurance to cover your load. Let’s say your commodity is expensive, like copper. You may want or need $250,000 in liability insurance. Choose the wrong broker and you might get partnered with a flatbed carrier that offers only the standard $100,000 coverage. A broker with a strong database of carrier information will only connect you with carriers that have the requisite insurance. At Redwood, we can book freight much faster because we have these carrier liability limits in our system.

5. Brokers as mediators

When it comes to claims, brokers are an intermediary, not always a direct party to the claim. However, they can play a key role in protecting both the shipper and the carrier. Again, it comes down to information. The right broker will have ready access to all the documentation that was part of the shipping process, including communication of all key loading and handling requirements. This readily available information can be incredibly helpful in resolving the issue.

If you find yourself reaching out to unknown flatbed carriers, consider forging a relationship with a large, technology-driven broker that can connect you to only the most qualified carriers. It is the safer choice.