Nothing slows supply chains quite like cargo damage—prompting carrier back-and-forths, extending delivery times, and disappointing customer expectations. Accidents are inevitable, but shippers can regain control and limit losses by responding decisively to unexpected stumbling blocks. With quick action, methodical recordkeeping, and clear customer guidance, it’s possible to optimize claims management and get back on schedule.
Cargo damage calls for detailed records and a reliable process.
1. Recognize damage at delivery
Registering impaired cargo is the first step in the claims process. An inspection of the goods should be completed immediately upon delivery. If there is damage, it should be noted on the delivery receipt before signing. If the damage is not noted on the delivery receipt, the freight claim amount will almost certainly be reduced to a settlement—or worse—denied altogether.
When signing for damages, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind:
- Note all damages: If only one item is reported as damaged, the carrier may only refund that one item.
- Be specific: “Subject to inspection” is not an effective or valid notation to hold carriers liable for damage. Instead, the receipt should dive into the details—mentioning, for example, the number of punctured hoses and broken glasses.
- Refuse freight when necessary: If the driver doesn’t allow signing or checking for damages, it is best to refuse the shipment.
2. Notify the carrier within 7 days
Notify the carrier about a shipment’s status as soon as possible. This process can be as simple as recording damage on the delivery receipt. However, there is another option if no one notices damage at delivery.
If customers spot cargo damage after delivery, shippers have seven days to notify the carrier. Any later, carriers will immediately deny damage claims.
3. File a thorough freight damage claim
When it comes to freight claims, more documentation is better. Shippers should maintain a meticulous record and include these must-have documents with every freight claim:
- Completed freight claim form
- Product invoice or sales invoice
- Proof of delivery or delivery receipt
- Original bill of lading
- Carrier freight bill (for freight charges)
- Repair cost invoice (if applicable)
Other documents shippers should include are photographs, a write-up or description of the loss or damage, a record of discounted sale, or even a carrier inspection report. For high-value shipments in particular, carrier inspection reports can be a tremendous boost to a shipper’s case—and shippers can typically ask carriers to conduct inspections at no extra cost.
The freight claims process is simplified with a TMS like CTSI Global’s Honeybee™ TMS. Carrier notifications are automated, and crucial documents get safely stored for easy reference. If shippers are unsure whether to include a specific document in a freight claim, they can follow this simple rule: if it strengthens the case, add it to the claim.
4. Preserve and prepare damaged freight for inspection or pick-up
Damaged freight needs to be accessible to the carrier for inspection or salvage pick-up throughout the entire freight claims process. Until the freight claim is resolved, even the delivery packaging should be preserved, as throwing it away could delay the claims process.
5. Coordinate a quick cargo replacement
Every shipment has a timeline and is uniquely urgent, making it essential to quickly replace any damaged cargo. Shippers don’t have to wait for a completed freight claim before shipping a replacement. In fact, if they ship it out before they start a claim, they can include the replacement freight charges on the claim.
Shippers should always send a replacement shipment using the carrier that delivered the damaged freight. Most carriers will only pay replacement charges if they delivered the initial cargo.
Advanced logistics tech fast-tracks claims management.
With logistics technology, shippers can automate key phases in the claims process and track claims to resolution. CTSI-Global has the in-house expertise, legal support, and versatile technology to help shippers do just that, providing assistance throughout the entire claims process. Using technology like our proprietary Honeybee™ TMS, shippers can streamline claims management and secure client trust for the long haul.
Shut down cargo damage consequences at the source. Contact us today.