Freight Shipping: How to Strengthen Your Claims Case

Learn how to strengthen your freight shipping claims case with these helpful tips.
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Nobody likes to deal with the problems of damaged items, shortages or missing freight shipments, but it’s bound to happen every now and then. When it does, acting quickly and knowing the proper claims process to follow can save you a lot of time and trouble. Follow these guidelines for a smoother process and quicker resolution to your freight shipping claims:

Inspect your delivery carefully. You should have at least 30 seconds to check for damage or missing items while the driver is still there. Take time to check for any obvious damage and, if possible, open boxes to ensure there are no issues with the contents inside.

Clearly note obvious damage on BOL and POD. The proof of delivery (also known as a POD or delivery receipt) is a legally binding document, so it’s important to accurately describe any damage, discrepancies, shortages or evidence of tampering before signing it or the bill of lading (BOL). If possible, take pictures to document the damage. Clearly indicate “damaged” on the paperwork, or write “order incomplete” if items are missing. Note damages on both your copy and the driver’s copy, and have the driver sign your copy to prove the damage was discovered at the time of delivery.

Avoid accepting shipments “without exception.” If you accept a freight shipment without inspecting it and later discover damage, your claim will be considered “concealed damage.” A concealed damage claim is more difficult to prove and less likely to be resolved in your favor, so avoid accepting shipments without inspection if at all possible. If you do discover damage after signing for your delivery, make sure you notify the carrier — in writing — within five days of receiving the delivery.

Pay the freight bill and retain the receipt. Paying your freight shipping bill completes the contract and helps expedite the claims process. Filing a claim doesn’t nullify the invoice, and the carrier won’t typically pay for damages or loss awarded to you in a claim if the bill is outstanding.

Remember that not all damage is covered. The Carmack Amendment — legislation that governs uniformity in interstate shipping and freight claim laws — stipulates that certain circumstances can be used to deny a freight damage claim, including:

  • An Act of God, such as extreme weather conditions
  • Public enemy, including acts of terrorism or armed robbery
  • Shipper negligence, such as poor packaging
  • Government-issued policies
  • Inherent vice, meaning there’s something inherently unstable about the nature of the goods being shipped (such as perishable food items)

Take a little time to inspect your deliveries and document damage before signing the paperwork, and be sure to file your freight shipping claims promptly to help ensure a straightforward claims process. To protect your freight even further, consider adding freight shipping insurance to help reduce the financial risk of loss or damage. Of course, your Unishippers team will always advocate on your behalf and is available to help with any damaged or missing shipment issues you may have.

Ready to learn more about the ins and outs of freight shipping claims? Download Unishippers’ Roadmap to Freight Claim Success.

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