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Tips for shippers to prevent cargo claims

Shippers have to take steps to avoid cargo claims.
/ Industry News & Trends /

By: Phil Sneed

Claims can be a costly endeavor for shippers. If cargo is stolen or damaged during a delivery, the shipper and carrier are required by law to mutually participate in the investigation of the cause of the claim in an effort to fully understand who ultimately will bear responsibility. Even when the carrier is found liable for the loss or damage, the administrative burden on the shipper to finally arrive at a successful claim resolution can be significant and distracting to the core duties of the logistics manager. This loss of time, combined with the service disruption to the shipper's customer experience can negatively impact company performance.  Such loss or damage claims can negatively affect the trust among other stakeholders within the supply chain.

Here are some tips shippers can follow to reduce the risk cargo faces, and ultimately, to reduce the number of claims a shipper may encounter.

No. 1: Packaging matters

Shippers should check and re-check their packaging strategy. They shouldn't hesitate to sometimes triple-check how cargo is packaged. According to Inbound Logistics, all cargo should ideally be in containers that are suitable for the items being shipped. Large cargo should not be forced into smaller boxes that clearly won't hold everything.

"Shippers should check and re-check their packaging strategy."

The boxes themselves should be at a size where there is enough space for the cargo plus a good amount of cushioning supplies. Packing peanuts can go a long way toward helping protect delicate freight over the bumpy interstate highways. The boxes should not be damaged in any way, and most notably, the flaps should be intact.

If multiple items are being placed in the same box, they should be wrapped individually and cushioned. Fragile items should especially be wrapped and packaged in a way where packing supplies or other cushioning items will provide enough protection.

When it comes to taping the box, tape that is at least 2 inches in width should be used. It should also ideally be water-activated reinforced tape, which will provide greater sealed protection.

Shippers should imagine themselves as drivers, having to pick up multiple boxes. If the packaging feels weak, it might need to be repacked or retaped. It's better to be extremely cautious than even the slightest bit careless.

No. 2: Don't neglect the labels

Labeling all cargo is important for differentiating the contents inside each box and who they belong to. Shippers don't want to find themselves in a situation where the wrong cargo was delivered because the boxes weren't properly labeled.

Each box will have to be clearly labeled, but handwriting that is not legible should not be used, as it can cause confusion if someone can't decipher the wording. To avoid any further confusion, old labels should be removed if possible. Otherwise, they should be covered so no bits of old information are showing.

The placement of labels is also important to ensure cargo is clearly seen during deliveries. Labels should always be applied to the top of a box and never on a seam. Furthermore, it's best practice to avoid placing labels on top of sealing tape in case the tape is damaged and rips part of the label off.

When creating the labels, shippers have to ensure the writing is legible or use a label maker that can create one big enough to be easily seen. But labels shouldn't only contain shipping information; they should also tell drivers and handlers if boxes are fragile or if they should be stacked a certain way to avoid damage. Shrink wrap will help ensure boxes stay together and remain stabilized throughout the delivery.

"Each box will have to be clearly labeled."

And if shippers want to protect themselves in case outside labels somehow get damaged during delivery, shipping and other important information can also be placed inside a box

No. 3: Go with reliability

All of the packing and labeling tips will be for naught if a reliable carrier isn't used. Inbound Logistics recommended asking questions regarding background checks on individuals, the carrier's current claims rate, safety of the facility and more.

Frequent inspections should also be conducted on vehicles and throughout facilities. Carriers who are on top of issues will likely represent better business partners than those who constantly fail inspection checks.

Shippers have a lot to keep track of to ensure cargo is delivered on time and safely. To prevent expensive cargo claims, freight needs to be packaged and labeled properly and reliable carriers have to be looked at.