When you experience damage/loss on a shipment, the main thought that may come to mind is, “It’s time to submit a claim!” The typical mindset is “Just get the claim going as fast as possible!” which often times results in the opposite of the desired effect (The desired effect being a fast and positive resolution.) Many delays in the claims process are a result of carrier requests for additional information. Often these can be avoided by taking a little extra time on the front end to complete the following six-steps.
The following Six-Step Process is a simple, easy-to-follow guideline on what you can do BEFORE filing your claim with the carrier or broker.
Step 1: Check for AND report concealed damage/shortage directly with carrier
If you find concealed damage after the shipment is received, you should report this to the carrier asap. It must be done within 5 business days from the date of delivery. It must be done in writing. Emails should be sent to the carrier directly. Call the carrier’s Customer Service and request an email address. You can fax the carrier directly as well. By doing this you are NOT submitting a claim or any documentation.
Step 2: Confirm if additional insurance was purchased
If you purchased supplemental insurance prior to booking your shipment, a policy should have been issued. Before you file your claim you will want to get a copy of the policy. If you don’t have a copy consult with the insurance company that issued your supplemental cargo insurance. Either way, you will want to contact the company you purchased the insurance from to seek guidance on the process.
Step 3. Give the carrier disposition regarding the freight (if refused)
The customer / consignee is responsible for retaining all damaged products and packages until claim is entirely resolved. If the Carrier is still in possession of freight, please give them instruction on where to take it. The Carrier may dispose of items if it creates a mess on their trailer, or refuse to ship the items any further.
Step 4. Ask the carrier to inspect the damaged items
It is best to not dispose of damaged items or packaging (or get repairs) before submitting claim is because carriers have the right to inspect the products, salvage the products, both, or neither. Typically, the carrier will waive their right to inspect if damage is under $1000. Best case is that products/packaging always get inspected BEFORE claim if possible.
Step 5. Gather all documents and information
There are several documents that are part of almost every carrier claim.
CLAIMS FORM: All carriers have a form they require to be filled out to file a claim. If you have booked through a broker and wish to have them facilitate the claim they will have a form too.
ORIGINAL MANUFACTURERS/VENDORS INVOICE: This is the invoice that shows what the shipper or customer paid to make or buy the product. This is to show original value of products, as the Carrier is only liable for original value, not profit value.
SALES INVOICE: This shows what the shipper/customer sold the product for and who they sold it to. The parties, products, and dates should match the BOL.
PICTURES (IF APPLICABLE): Please provide pictures of both the damaged packaging AND the damaged product. The more you can provide, the better. If you have pictures of item BEFORE shipment, please provide those as well.
SIGNED BOL: This will show what piece count the driver signed off for. They typically list this on their Carrier stamp or next to their signature. In a shortage situation, this number will determine what count they are liable for. If the shipment is entirely lost, this document will show whether driver signed off on pickup. In a damage situation, if driver notated damages upon pickup, this will prevent them from being liable for damages upon delivery.
DELIVERY RECEIPT: This is the document that shows the disposition of the freight at the time of delivery. It includes the signature of the driver and consignee. If shipment was entirely refused, please advise in your explanation. Please note: Verbiage such as, “Subject to count/inspection”, “Possible Damage”, “Hole in box” or anything else that is vague or not specific notation of damaged/shorted items will be considered concealed. This is a legally binding document, so the more specific a consignee can be when notating the damage/shortage, the better.
MISC DOCUMENTS: Any other documents you have that you believe will substantiate your case against the Carrier.
Transportation Executive with experience in developing processes and controls for early stage start up companies. Specialties include: Sales, Marketing, Transportation, Trucking, Brokerage, Project Transport and Rail Operations.,Organizational Design, Process Development, Accounts Receivable Management, Leadership, and Business Start-ups.
Let's get started!