Sometimes a problem occurs where cargo becomes lost, damaged, or missing. There is a particular cargo claim procedure to follow when filing a claim. By having your clients understand and carefully follow those instructions the claim process should run smoothly and claim issues can be resolved much more efficiently. The first step is to notify the claims agent immediately.
Steps to take when filing a claim
Make sure to tell your client to do their best to document the conditions of the cargo upon delivery. Take pictures to show the condition of the freight upon arrival and make clear any exceptions on the delivery receipt noting any loss or damage to the cargo and/or the packing or containers and advise your clients to do so as well.
If water damage is the issue, move goods to a secure location, and separate wet goods from dry. The cargo owner must take reasonable measures to protect the insured property from further loss by an insured peril. Costs or expenses incurred by the cargo owner in doing this are payable under the Sue and Labor Clause. Make sure to preserve all packing, damaged goods and seals until the claims agent arrives.
At this point a surveyor should be called in. Surveyors are neither settling agents nor are they affiliated with the insurance company. They are independents that report the facts to the insurance company and have the responsibility for determining the amount of the loss incurred.
Usually the insurance company will pay surveyors directly for their services. In situations when a surveyor requires up-front payment to investigate a valid claim the insurance company will reimburse the claimant. If the loss is not a considerable expense then it is probably not advisable to pay for the cost of a survey.
Your client will also need to file a formal notice of claim against the carrier. If more than one carrier is involved, then a claim must be filed against each party. This process is time-sensitive so make sure that, as part of the cargo claim procedure that, all claims are filed in a timely manner, and make sure your client retains all copies of the shipping documents.