When using a freight broker to arrange a load, verification of the broker’s surety bond is essential. You can get bond information online, but the FMCSA can’t tell you if the bond has pending claimants. The best way to determine satisfactory bond coverage is to contact the freight broker’s bonding agent directly.
(1) Find the bonding agent’s contact information. This information should be in the information packet provided by the broker. If you did not receive a legible copy of the freight broker’s bond in the set-up packet, consider it a red flag and get a copy as quickly as possible.
(2) Visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website to get the information if necessary. (See our Resources section). Accept the site terms and choose ‘Carrier Search’ from the drop down menu. (Yes, it searches freight brokers. The name is misleading). Have the freight broker’s MC number (FF for a freight forwarder) handy. If you don’t have this ID number, (another big red flag), don’t panic. You can still find the bonding agent information without it.
(3) Input as much information as you have on the freight broker. Hit ‘Search.’ Choose the correct broker from the list and select ‘Report.’ (‘HTML Snapshot’ will only verify insurance coverage; not provide contact information).
(4) Scroll down to ‘Active / Pending Insurance’ for bonding insurance contacts. For quickest information on a pending load, use the telephone to contact the insurance company. (For non-essential questions and bond copies, you can use the fax or snail mail address to reach a bonding agent).
(5) Explain that you’re a carrier who requires verification on a broker’s bond. Be prepared for numerous transfers. When you get the right department on the phone, ask for verification of current bond, bond amount and whether there are any claims against it. If the bond is inactive, or has more than one claim against it, don’t take the load. (A single claim could be an isolated incident). Remember, your load payment can hinge on the availability of bond funds.