Freight damage is a hassle, from the added documentation and back-and-forth blame games to delays in payment. An even more unfortunate reality of shipping is concealed damage: When freight gets damaged in transit and for whatever reason, the damage isn’t notated in the proof of delivery (POD). Now a damaged freight claim must be filed, making getting payout for the damaged freight even harder.
By putting a few protective measures in place, like adding all-risk insurance, you can avoid dealing with the hassle and stress of concealed freight damage. Here are important steps to take to ensure you recoup the greatest portion of your losses:
- Don’t Just Accept & Sign. Concealed damage claims boil down to documenting evidence. Each time you accept a shipment, take time to inspect the freight before signing the POD. The law presumes that if you sign a delivery receipt as clear of damages, the shipment was delivered in good condition. If it wasn’t and you signed anyway, your claim is harder to prove.
- Document With Pictures & Notes. Take photos and make notes of any damage you see, such as ripped packaging, busted pallets, etc. Be thorough and detailed. Make notations such as the trailer number, which might help you determine if the freight was removed from one trailer and loaded onto another. In the world of insurance claims, if isn’t written down or documented, it didn’t happen. If the driver is in a hurry and there is no time for a full inspection, sign your POD with “pending further inspection” to provide some protection with the claims process.
- Immediately Raise the Alarm. Alert any party involved in the shipment process as soon as you discover the concealed damage and provide all of the evidence you gathered. The driver might also assure you they will handle the notification, but the responsibility is really up to you.
- File a Claim. In cases of concealed damage you have a very short window to notify the carrier (usually 5 days). Notify the carrier and file an official claim as soon as possible. You might also want to arrange for an inspection appointment, when the carrier would come to see the damaged freight in person. With or without an inspection, you have the best chances of payout if your shipment is covered by all-risk insurance.
Some shippers assume that a claim can’t be filed if they signed a clear delivery receipt at the time of delivery and discovered concealed damage later. Although it becomes your responsibility to prove the shipment was damaged, you should still file a claim--even if it’s after the five-day mark. You’ll just need additional proof that the damage didn’t occur at the destination.
Contact us for more information on how to handle concealed damage and other cargo claims issues. If you can ship it, we can insure it.