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Before a Cargo Claim Happens, Prepare a Plan: Part 1

Before a Cargo Claim Happens, Prepare a Plan: Part 1

Cargo Claims

Want more effective and efficient resolution of cargo claims? Understand what is required for a claim, and have a plan for processing them before they happen.

The first thing to know is that when freight is damaged or lost in transit, the initial burden is on the claimant to file a cargo claim with the carrier. The requirements and the timetable for filing claims are spelled out in detail in the Code of Federal Regulations. A claim should include three elements. The claimant must prove:

  • The condition at origin
  • Contrary condition at destination
  • Measurable harm

Additionally, the claimant must provide documentation to support their claim, which will vary from claim to claim. In general the claimant should:

  • Present the facts that sufficiently identify the shipment. The claim form should contain shipping and delivery points, dates, and carrier reference numbers. Supporting documents include the bill of lading (BOL) and a copy of the carrier’s freight bill.
  • Assert liability for the alleged loss, damage, or injury. The form should specify the type of alleged liability (loss, damage, or injury). Supporting documents include a signed BOL with delivery exceptions noted, inspection reports, temperature recordings, and law enforcement reports.
  • Make a claim for payment of a specified or determinable amount of money. The claim form should contain an itemized breakdown of the specific dollar amount being claimed. Supporting documents include the commercial sales invoice, accounts payable credit reports, and inventory cost reports.

Shippers should have their plan prepared for processing claims before damage or loss occurs. And they should ensure that their own employees and those of their receivers will know what to do, when.

Next: What to do once a claim happens

For more information on this topic, download our Cargo Claims: Basic Steps to File a Cargo Claim white paper.