How to Reduce Your Risk for Freight Damage

Unfortunately, in shipping freight, damage can happen. Between forklifts and warehouse and truck transfers, freight can have multiple parties picking it up and moving it across a shipping network. As the number of transfers increase, so does the risk of damage. It’s never fun when one of your shipments arrives damaged, and in this article, I will let you know what steps to take if damage does occur.

First, whenever freight comes in, always inspect your freight before signing a BOL. Examine all pieces of your freight for any signs of damage.

When damage occurs, there are steps you should take immediately and before you file a claim with a carrier, if you choose to do so. Doing the following will put you in a good position to get the claim process started and increase your chances of winning your claim.

  1. If you do see signs of damage, before signing off on the shipment with the driver, make sure you mark the BOL that damage has or possibly has occurred. If you do not mark the BOL then you are signing off that NO damage has occurred.
  2. Take pictures of the suspected damaged freight noting the time, date, and carrier information.
  3. Contact your carrier to begin the damage claim process. Note: In almost all cases, you need to pay the freight bill for the shipment before you submit a damage claim and potentially get any money back. If you do not pay the original bill you will not be able to file a claim.


Tips on how to reduce your risk of freight damage:

The number one thing you can do to prevent damage is to properly package your shipment. Improper packing is the primary reason claims are denied. This means the shipment was not properly packaged for transport. The most secure type of packaging is a crate which your freight goes in and gives it walled protection on every side. If you can use a crate, make sure everything inside is secure and will not shift on transport. If there is loose space, fill it with protective packing materials. If you need help on how to build a crate suitable for shipping, reach out to us and we are glad to help.

If you cannot use a crate or may not need to fully cover your commodity, use bands or shrink wrap to secure your shipment to a skid.

Another way to reduce the chance of damage is to understand the service level you choose when you book a shipment. In most cases, an LTL economy shipment will be transferred more times than a specific service level, like a 1 or 2 days, which increases the chance of loss or damage. If you are shipping an single parcel or a package, assume it will be treated roughly, even if you add stickers or warning to the box or envelope and protect it accordingly.

A note on insurance. Unless an insurance policy is pulled for a specific shipment, should you win freight claim process you will be paid a standard per pound rate which is determined by the carrier. If you want to be covered for the full value of the shipment, you need to pull a policy for that shipment. If you have high-value freight, ask your carrier for an insurance quote to be included on the shipment quote.

Although damage is never fun, doing these steps will keep you organized and put you in a strong position to win a claim with your carrier.


If you need help reducing damage with your freight shipping contact us here.