Time to read: 5 min.

Has your freight ever gotten lost or damaged during shipment? The risk for damage or loss in shipping is always present no matter what carrier you use or goods you are shipping. But there are ways to minimize your risk, so you don’t lose your shirt or your mind.

When you must file a shipping claim, the very least that you should expect to happen is to find your shipment or to be reimbursed for the value of the product lost. But that doesn’t happen every time, which can be frustrating. The main reason why companies don’t get paid the full amount of their claim is due to the lack of experience or knowledge when filing a claim, when shipping or receiving freight.

Don’t make costly mistakes when creating freight claims. Follow these tips to increase the probability of being reimbursed for your freight claim. If you do not follow these points, you’ve given the carrier an “out” to not pay the claim. Below you’ll find three valuable tips for successfully handling a freight claim situation.

1. Accept The Shipment

It’s best to keep the freight in your possession to have proof of damage or shortage. When you have the choice to sign for or refuse the damaged freight, make every attempt to accept it and note the exceptions in the proof of deliver (POD). Make sure to document all the damages at the point of delivery in order to have more control over the situation. Also, it is always best to retain all of the packaging until the carrier’s liability has been established.

2. Don’t Wait to File The Claim

Contact the claims department of your logistics provider right away. Every claim is subject to legal time limits from the date of delivery and, depending on the shipping circumstances, can be time barred.

After you or your claim representative submit a claim to the carrier, the carrier has 30 days from the receipt of the claim to acknowledge that it has received it. The carrier then has 120 days from the receipt of the claim to respond. This is why it is critical to file your freight claim ASAP.  Also, it is always is a best practice to follow up with the carrier on your claim often.

3. Pay the Freight Charges

There are regulations that state that any claim must be accompanied with a copy of a paid freight bill. It works against you to refuse to pay the bill even if the shipment is damaged, wrong, or lost. You will save time and headaches by putting aside your feelings and following procedure. Take the high road and pay the bill as soon as possible.

The success of a shipping claim also lies in the handling of your cargo before and after the carrier delivers your freight. By following the next set of tips, you’ll master the shipping process and avoid the risk of shipping claims.

There are four different types of cargo claims: damage claim, shortage claim, loss claim, and concealed damage claim. If you want to learn more about the different types of shipping claims and understand liability issues in less-than-truckload and full truckload freight, check out our white paper: “Who is liable?”.


4. Make sure your cargo is well packed from the inside out

Heavier items should always be on the bottom of the package. It is the shipper’s responsibility to pack the load properly in order to avoid damage. If you’re shipping pallets, remember to always secure or strap the cargo to the pallet and shrink-wrap or cover the load to protect it during shipping. To learn more about the importance of proper packaging, read the following link.

As another tip, avoid attaching documents or small pieces to the outside of the pallet or crate. Most of the time, these items will get lost during shipping.

5. Label your load

Label your load with “code marks”. This is an effective way to make the shipment easily recognizable when it arrives at the consignee. If you’re shipping pallets, place marking stickers on each pallet and label the freight with “Do Not Stack” stickers, when necessary.

6. Make sure that your Bill of Lading has all the correct freight details

Make sure that the shipper & consignee information, cargo description, and payment information are correct. This will also help you to avoid extra charges in your shipping invoice. For more information, read: Most Common Extra Charges in LTL Shipping.

Here’s another tip.  Measure and weigh the shipment in front of the driver. This helps you to avoid shortages and weight differences with the carrier. Also, take photos of the cargo before it leaves the shipper’s location. In the case of a claim, these pictures will come in handy.


7. Follow a check list

When you are receiving a shipment, there are three simple things you should always do to make this process run smoothly. These may seem like obvious tasks, but making them a part of your regular receiving habit will ensure you are covered, no matter what. Before you begin the receiving process, make sure that the driver is present while you inspect the load.

  • Note the number of pieces: This should match the number on the BOL. If any pieces are missing, you must write them on the BOL as received short.
  • Note the weight of the shipment: This should be equal or less than what the BOL shows. If there is a difference in the weight, write it on the BOL.
  • Note the condition of the cargo: Any damage to the master packing is a big red flag. Make sure you look for any dents or damage and make the driver aware of any problems you find.

8. Note everything on the proof of delivery (POD)

If there are any discrepancies with the BOL or damage to your cargo. Write what is damaged, where it is damaged, and the specific number of damaged items in detail on the BOL.

As a tip, have your commercial invoice or PURCHASE ORDER and a list describing the shipped goods with you while you inspect a shipment. That way, you’ll be able to check your cargo right away and report any damage or loss immediately.

I hope these tips will help you navigate the freight claim process. It’s important to become more familiar with handling and receiving best practices for LTL shipments so that you can avoid the headache of claims. Now you can ship smarter and know exactly what to look for when you send or receive cargo.

If you have questions or need help filing a claim, feel free to contact an expert below.