Being a military family is pretty awesome most of the time: the camaraderie, the sense that your entire family is part of something great, the healthcare benefits, and, when it comes time to make a PCS move, the help with logistics, finding housing and even packing and shipping your household goods.
But….the military moves on its own schedule. If your family has needs that don’t quite fit into a military-maneuvered PCS move you’re….stuck.
And that’s why many military families opt for a PPM (personally procured move), which gives a family much more personal control on what is moved when and who moves it.
Which is why many military members and their families opt to go the PPM route when it comes to transporting their household goods, including shipping their vehicles.
Shipping Your Car Via PPM
The main difference you’ll find when opting for a PPM is that you need to find the shipping company. All. On. Your. Own. Sure, your housing and/or family assistance office may have a list of preferred vehicle transport companies (and you definitely should get that list!), but the vetting, the negotiating price, the setting up a pickup date, etc. are all on you.
And that, frankly, can be daunting.
So we’ve put together a short primer for you on how to find reliable car shipping for your military family. Take a look below.
1. Get your PPM paperwork in pronto!
As you well know, moving is all about coordinating schedules: yours, your transport company’s, moving help, your family, and so on. If you decide to go the PPM route, you’ll need to submit an application as soon as possible so that you can begin scheduling.
You start by heading to your service branch’s equivalent of the Personal Property Transportation Office (PTO), which will talk to you about PPM and give you the forms you’ll need to fill out for reimbursement.
Once you receive approval for a PPM move, you need to get cracking on scheduling the various services you’re going to need in your move, such as a vehicle transport service.
The sooner you schedule transport, the better: you’ll pay less and you can rest a bit easier because you’ll have more flexibility in your shipping schedule. You should make a reservation as soon as possible especially if you’re moving during the summer, the busiest time for moves. If you wait too long, you may find that a) you can’t hire the transport company you want because it’s fully booked and/or b) you will be paying through the nose for such a “late” reservation.
2. Shop around carefully.
While you will be reimbursed for your PPM expenses, you’re still going to want to find the best, reasonably priced auto transport company. Don’t go with the least expensive; there’s usually a (bad) reason why the shipping firm quotes you a bare-bottom price.
Instead, look around for a shipping firm – like Ship A Car, Inc. – that has considerable experience with PPMs. Make sure to ask for military discounts and ask for names and contact information of military families they’ve helped in the past. It’s also smart to read reviews of former customers.
3. Discuss insurance coverage.
This is where you should ask a lot of questions. Make sure you understand what is covered in transport and what isn’t. For example, most transport firms automatically cover for negligence on their part. But most companies don’t provide coverage for mishaps that occur due to nature (sleet, rain, snow, etc.). Make sure you understand what the company considers “negligent” and what it deems “natural.”
Also, if your car is vintage or luxury, you may decide to purchase additional coverage via a third-party insurance firm.
If you’re not sure if the company is offering industry-standard coverage, check with your station’s housing office or legal office for help.
4. Keep all receipts and keep an eye on the deadline for submitting reimbursement paperwork.
You want to be reimbursed for your moving expenses, so make sure you keep receipts. Even the very smallest (you needed to head to the commissary to purchase plastic bags to pack small items, for example) should be kept. Those small expenses add up over time. Experienced PPM military families often make a point of purchasing a binder or folder and placing all paperwork in that one place so that receipts and other important documentation aren’t misplaced.
Remember: once your move is complete you’ll have 45 days to submit your reimbursement claims. Keeping track of all receipts will help you considerably in the crazy days immediately after a move as you and your family settle in.
Important note: make sure you understand what constitutes “complete” before you move, so that you can figure that date out and mark it on a calendar.
Ship A Car, Inc’s principals have a combined 30-plus years’ experience helping military families make PPM moves. We’ve been shipping cars for service members and the general public since 2012, transporting more than 35,000 vehicles in that time.