Freight claims can be very complex and even a freight claim form itself can present challenging issues to an enterprise, compounding the problems such a form is meant to address in the first place. If a freight claim form is filled out incorrectly, the end result can be difficulty making and supporting your freight claims, which can cost your business a great deal of money. Every step of gathering information about these forms and filling them out should be undertaken with the same care that you would accord any other legally binding document.
Naturally, the easiest way to file a freight claim of any sort is to have an experienced logistics consulting firm handle the issue on your behalf. The process of filing a freight claim, as well as the specific documentation that may be required, can vary from one vendor to another. However, the basic process can be mastered, allowing you to develop best practices that will help you in the event you have to file such a claim. Even if your vendor relationships are strong, be sure that your shipping managers are aware of the freight claims procedure – accidents do happen.
Preliminaries in Filling Out Your Claim
Remember that your claim must be filled out within a very short time in order to have the maximum effect. Although some large, international carriers may give you up to 90 days to file a claim, it is a good idea to get into the habit of filing a claim immediately as soon as any damage or loss comes to your attention. To expedite your claims, ensure that shipping professionals on your team are trained to inspect all packages for damage immediately upon receipt.
A shipment’s owner has a legal obligation to minimize claim amounts whenever possible. This means that it is incumbent upon your organization to repair, discount, or salvage damages whenever possible. In some cases, a vendor may choose to have the damaged goods appraised independently. The first step to filling out your claim, therefore, is to assess damages and to do so in such a way that you will be able to defend your estimate in court if needed.
Filling Out Your Claim Correctly
Although all claim forms may have certain superficial differences, the basics of filling them out are broadly similar. Claim forms will require you to supply the claimant name, number, date, address, tracking number if applicable, claim type, consignee and shipper. The details of the claim will typically include the affected items and their descriptions. Documentation supporting your claim are typically required at the same time to ensure the claim can be processed.
Covering Your Claim for Shortage and Damage
In most cases, you will need different supporting documentation to facilitate shortage claims and damage claims. Shortage claims generally require a copy of your freight bill, an inspection report from your carrier, an invoice or certified copy showing prices, a repair bill or legally admissible copy, any relevant statements or photos, and a waiver of inspection form if applicable. Each of these forms should be reviewed by compliance experts to ensure their correctness.
After Filling Out Your Claim
Once you have filled out your claim and provided all of the correct documentation, the responsible enterprise is obligated to respond promptly to address your needs. However, even in good faith situations, this can take 90 days or more. Be sure that you have a clear and cohesive enterprise procedure for tracking your claims and ensuring follow-up. A qualified logistics consultant can help you develop processes that will be effective in meeting your needs.
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