Filing freight claims: Guidelines to make sure you are prepared.
May 4, 2017
Accidents happen. Whether you’re a small business owner or a logistics professional, you will very likely encounter a time when a shipment is damaged in transit. When this occurs, freight claims come into play.
A freight claim is a legal situation where a shipper or consignee seeks financial reimbursement for valuable cargo or goods that have been damaged upon arrival.
If you’re put in a position where filing a freight claim is necessary, here are some guidelines and tips to consider:
When the shipment arrives, make sure you check for any damages before you sign a delivery receipt or bill of lading (BOL). Remember to ask the driver to wait to depart until you thoroughly check the product for any holes, tears, cuts, etc. If you do find damages, be sure to take some pictures for documentation purposes.
After you’ve inspected the outside of the package, open it and check the goods themselves. If the product itself is damaged, take photographs and note the word “damage” on the delivery receipt. Then, sign the delivery receipt and have the driver sign as well.
How to file a claim.
When freight damages are realized, it’s very important to notify the freight broker or carrier as soon as possible. When filing a claim, be prepared to provide the following items, as they may be mandatory for completion:
- Proof of Delivery (POD)
- Photos of the actual damage (to packaging and goods)
- The Original Invoice showing the costs paid for the goods
- A Repair Estimate (if applicable)
There’s a chance the carrier could request additional documentation. However, in general, these are the documents that you should be prepared to provide on every claim.
Important to Remember: Make sure to keep all the product and packaging in your possession until you have approval to dispose of it from the carrier, or until the claim is finalized. The carrier will typically want to inspect the damages themselves and this will ensure you are prepared.
When to file a claim.
There are different guidelines that come into play when determining the best time to file a freight claim. The Carmack Amendment is a freight shipping industry amendment that allows for nine months for a claimant to file a freight claim. However, there are some other caveats that may come into play in addition to the Carmack Amendment, such as concealed damages.
Concealed damages are any damages that were not noted at the time of delivery. This is generally per the NMFTA or carrier tariff on how long they will allow claimants to report a freight claim, and consider it valid (usually within five days, but may vary by carrier).
It’s the claimant’s duty to mitigate any losses to the best of their ability and take action in a timely manner. For example, if a package is damaged, it should never be left out in the elements such as rain or snow where it could potentially be damaged further.
Working with a freight services provider.
In most cases, your freight service provider will be more than happy to be a liaison for the freight claim between the customer and carrier throughout the claim process. Freight brokers can leverage providers’ industry knowledge and do things like organize files to ensure everything is intact and ready to be filed.
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