A Guide to the Carrier Claims Process

Carrier claims are a standard part of the shipping process, as they provide a way to respond to things that go wrong with shipments. These claims show that the carrier didn't carry out the agreement properly, and some standard processes and solutions go along with these claims.

This guide lays out the leading carriers' types of claims and the carrier claims process. Shippers need to understand what shipping claims are, when to file them fully, and to carry out an efficient method of filing them as part of standard operations.

This guide covers all of these areas to help you move forward with this aspect of shipping and logistics. We also share how a partner like Intelligent Audit can alleviate much of the burden of the carrier claims process by handling much of it for your team.

What Is a Shipping or Carrier Claim?

The shipper, recipient, and carrier have contract terms of a shipment laid out in a bill of lading (BOL). These include the expectations of the shipment. When shortages, damages, or partial non-deliveries occur, the shipper or recipient (consignee) can report a carrier breach of contract through a shipping claim — also known as a freight or carrier claim. This statement essentially declares what went wrong on the carrier's end and looks for reparations.

Because shipping could be better, filing claims is a regular part of the shipping process. As e-commerce shipments increase and the industry faces more supply chain issues and disruptions, shipping claims are increasing, and companies need a way to keep up.

Different Types of Shipping or Freight Claims

A range of situations results in filing a carrier claim. These are common types of freight claims you could expect to file on a fairly regular basis:

  • Damaged Claim — The shipment packaging had noticeable physical damage upon arrival, noted on the proof of delivery (POD). This type of claim usually has a nine-month window to submit, such as a UPS claim form.
  • Concealed Damage Claim — There is hidden damage not noticed immediately and not noted on the POD. Generally, these claims come with a short five-day filing window.
  • Shortage Claim — The shipment has a noticeable shortage noted on the POD. This type of claim usually includes a nine-month filing window.
  • Concealed Shortage Claim — A shortage not noticed immediately and not noted on the POD. This type has a quick five-day filing window in general.
  • Refused Claim — The recipient refuses an entire shipment or part of it due to damages, lateness, or an incorrect package. The carrier asks you what to do with the shipment next, and you generally do not need to pay the invoice.
  • Loss Claim — The entire shipment was lost. When this happens, the carrier typically has a one-week window to find the shipment. If unfound, you do not pay the shipping costs.

How the Shipping Claim Process Works

You'll want to know the process for major carriers like UPS, FedEx, and USPS. First, it's important to know about guaranteed services with all three of these carriers. These refer to delivery times laid out by the carriers for designated services, basically a promise that the package will arrive within a set time frame. Certain services come with a guaranteed delivery time instead of an estimation. In such cases, you don't need a specific contract to have packages arrive within this time window; the service terms spell out the delivery range.

Leading Carriers Guaranteed ServicesUPSFedExUSPSNext Day AirStandard OvernightPriority Mail ExpressNext Day Air EarlyFirst OvernightNext Day Air SaverPriority OvernightWorldwide ExpressStandard Overnight Extra HoursWorldwide Express PlusFirst Overnight Extra HoursWorldwide Express NA1Priority Overnight Extra HoursWorldwide SaverInternational FirstWorldwide Express SaverInternational PriorityWorldwide Express FreightInternational Priority ExpressWorldwide Express Freight MiddayInternational Priority Freight

How to Submit a Guaranteed Service Refund

When you're using a guaranteed service with one of the leading carriers, you can follow the process for a guaranteed service refund when something goes wrong. The process varies by carrier, but each has a specific method.

  • UPS: Ensure your claim fits the guidelines of guaranteed service. Then, call the phone number on your invoice and follow the prompts for a refund. Alternatively, go to the website and log into your account in the Billing Center. You can find more information through the "Help and Support Center."
  • FedEx: Check whether your problem meets the guidelines of a guaranteed service claim. You can go to the FedEx website and find a way to file a claim under the support section or call the company for support.
  • USPS: First, ensure you are within the claim window of 30 days from label purchase for domestic shipments and 60 days for international ones. If so, enter your USPS account and the requested information related to a guaranteed service refund. Move forward to submit your claim, and then wait to see if USPS provides a refund. Alternatively, you could visit a local branch of your post office.

Of course, follow the process for any other carrier, such as DHL. Suppose the carrier claims process is too complicated or time-consuming for your company to file with UPS and FedEx. In that case, Intelligent Audit can become your partner to assist with this process.

How to File an Insurance Claim

Even in cases where the shipment isn't covered by guaranteed service, you can still file a claim to report the damage or loss and see if the carrier can make any reparations. The difference is that these services do not provide an exact delivery time frame, yet you can still make other claims.

The way to do so varies by carrier. First, collect the necessary documentation, such as the package tracking number, the shipping label, and proof of purchase. Make sure you are within the claim window for the type of shipment. Then, follow each carrier's process:

Again, when working with any carrier, you can file a claim through its specific channels, such as the company website. For assistance with the UPS claim form or FedEx claim form, Intelligent Audit can help.

Bulky Freight, like LTL

Each carrier you work with will have a unique claim form that you use to file a shipping claim. Yet a specific form is not necessary to make a claim legally valid. You can use the carrier's specific form or go with a generic form or a typed letter. Shippers can also use their own unique forms if they prefer.

Forms commonly used in the freight claims process resemble the FedEx claim form or UPS claim form, and you could use these as models if you'd like to go your own route. What you need to make the document legally valid is to ensure that the shipping claim form includes the following elements:

  • The designated shipment
  • The type of damage, loss, or other claims
  • The amount of the claim
  • Payment or other reparation expectations

In addition, you will typically need to offer evidence of the problem. There are rules and regulations on this provided by each carrier, but, in general, you would show that the delivered shipment does not match the BOL and provide photos of the damage. Still, there is a chance a freight claim could get denied.

Ultimately, making and submitting a claim should be straightforward and concise to optimize freight claims management. Intelligent Audit can provide its expertise if you need help creating or scaling a carrier claims process.

Documents Needed

You will need to provide documentation that makes a clear case for the claim. Including this information from the start creates a smoother, faster claims process, also helping make the resolution more efficient. Documentation may vary but will likely include the following:

  • The shipment invoice
  • A copy of the signed delivery receipt
  • A copy of the BOL
  • An invoice listing the values of damaged or lost goods
  • Invoices for any necessary repairs or replacements

Depending on the situation, you may also include these types of documentation:

  • Notification of loss
  • A copy of the freight bill with paid charges
  • Copies of an inspection request and inspection report
  • Photos of damage
  • Impact reports
  • Temperature reports
  • Certificates of condemnation, dumping, package or weight
  • Lab reports
  • Quality control reports
  • Carrier's passing reports
  • Loading diagrams
  • Loading and unloading tallies
  • Affidavits

Optimize and Scale Your Claims Process

Carrier claims eat up time and effort, taking attention away from other parts of shipping and business operations. That said, claims are essential for saving money, fixing shipment problems, and maintaining a good relationship with carriers and customers. The solution is to have a more efficient way of carrying out shipping claims, which helps to ensure they always get submitted within the filing window and that reparations get made as much as possible.

When you have a few carriers' claims a month, it's possible to take the time to fill out a UPS claim form or FedEx claim form here and there. But when the paperwork adds up, and there are large amounts of carrier claims each month, this becomes a real burden. You still have to manage these claims to provide good customer service and recover as much money and lost shipments as possible. However, keeping up with the paperwork and tracking process becomes more challenging — especially when skyrocketing e-commerce demand and supply chain issues significantly increase claims numbers. As the number of claims increases, it can be increasingly difficult to keep up. Plus, this process can be very tedious and cumbersome, taking resources away from better uses of time, money, and effort. Many companies don't have the resources and mechanisms to handle many claims independently.

A trusted partner like Intelligent Audit with the expertise, resources, and technology can help. Instead of drowning under the sheer volume of increasing claims, it's essential to have a process that allows you to manage them at scale. We provide claims processes and tracking that help you keep up with the data and recover as much money and freight as possible. As a result, you cut costs, best allocate company resources, and provide the best customer service without losing customers.

Save Time, Money, and Headaches with Intelligent Audit as Your Carrier Claim Partner

A partner like Intelligent Audit can help by providing the expertise, technical knowledge, and technology to file claims on a shipper's behalf, eliminating the burden of managing shipping claims. We take the bulk of the claims process off our customers' plates, allowing them to use their time better and ensuring maximum recovery.

You don't have to create systems and forms for carrying out your claims. We already have processes in place, including claims reports that we supply to our customers for FedEx and UPS, making the process easier and more efficient for getting necessary documentation from our customers. Nonetheless, we adapt to the needs of different companies, so we can provide more support to take most of the claims process off your hands, work with your on-site customer service team who handles claims, or do a little bit of both.

We keep up with changes, so you don't have to. When UPS changed its dashboard and process, we adapted our forms in response. We adjust our technology as carriers make changes to their websites and processes.

In addition, Intelligent Audit can provide data to help optimize your overall logistics networks and processes. We can provide claims reports, how much was recovered, which claims were rejected, why, and so on. Our info can help you see how best to set up a logistics network and best use the carriers that will continue to perform at the level you need.

Contact us to learn more about how our shipping claims services can help your company.

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