May 26, 2015

In virtually any industry (or even in our personal lives), submitting claims can be a tedious task. A lot of effort goes into who’s at fault, how bad the damage is, and how long it’s been there; because at the end of the day, someone has to pay for it.

When it comes to concealed damage claims in the freight industry, things can get even trickier.

By it’s very nature, concealed damage involves a product that appears perfectly fine on the outside. The damage isn’t seen until the cargo is delivered and opened up. That makes it very difficult to know who is at fault and what actually caused the damage. Was it the manufacturer? The warehouse workers? The carrier?

Because of its delicate nature, concealed damage claims have a short window of time. Specifically, 15 days (as opposed to 9 months for other types of claims). The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC), however, has just reported that the claim window is shrinking further.

You will now have 5 days to file a concealed damage claim.

Why is This Happening?
The NMFC has not explicitly stated the reasons for shortening the claim time. What we do know, however, is that communication in logistics is much more rapid than it was when the initial rule was set in place.

With shipment and route tracking, constant communication, and mobile technology, shippers and carriers are able to closely monitor their freight. If damage is discovered, it will most likely be discovered soon and can also be communicated much quicker than it once could.

Since virtually all communication and documentation is now electronic, claims can be sent instantaneously rather than by mail or in person.

What Happens if I Miss the 5-Day Window?
Similar to the previous 15 day limit, all hope isn’t lost if you miss the 5 day claims period. You can still file your claim, providing evidence and a full report. However, your report will have to be that much more irrefutable, and it will be more likely that your claim is denied.

It’s not impossible to file a concealed damage claim after 5 days. Just that much more difficult.

How Can I File a Concealed Damages Report?
The process is the same as it was before. The Customer must provide a full list of items missing or damaged and they must request an inspection. While waiting for an inspection, they must hold the damaged freight in the same location/condition where the damage was discovered. They must also provide reasonable evidence as to why the carrier was at fault for the damage.

Detailed photographs with time stamps help provide evidence to support your claim.

If you have further questions regarding NMFC rules or carrier liability, we’d love to chat. Contact us today.