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3 Steps to Handle a Cargo Damage Claim

cargo damage claim

Whether it's due to poor packaging, water damage or other outside forces, cargo damage is a reality that most companies will have to deal with along the line.

While cargo issues are an inevitable part of the shipping industry, there is a clear way for companies to claim compensation for damaged goods.

What is a Cargo Damage Claim? 

Also known as a freight claim, a shipping claim, or a transportation claim, a cargo damage claim is a legal demand by a shipper, consignee, or product owner to a carrier in order to obtain financial reimbursement for the lost or damaged shipment.

There are four types of freight claims:

  • Damage claims are relatively common and occur when cargo has damage that is visible upon delivery.
  • Loss claims occur when cargo is picked up, but never delivered because it was lost during transportation.
  • Shortage claims occur when only part of your cargo is delivered because sections were lost, and pieces are missing.
  • Concealed claims happen when part of the cargo is discovered to be damaged or missing after the driver leaves. 


The process to resolve a cargo claim can take anywhere from one to four months, therefore, the quicker you are able to get started on your claim the better. Below we've put together 3 steps to take in order to process your claim quickly and accurately. 

Step 1: Assess and Record Damage or Loss 

Whenever possible, take steps to mitigate the extent of loss or damage to your cargo. For example, if water damage has occurred provide adequate treatment and segregate unaffected equipment.

You should make sure to record the name/reference (if applicable) of the cargo and a description of the damaged or lost property. You'll need to know what date the goods and equipment were received. For conceal claims, you'll need to know what date the damage or loss was discovered.

In addition, you'll need to know the location of physical inspection, as well as the contact details of appropriate personnel who handled the cargo.

Finally, you'll need to have an idea about the extent of loss or damage with a preliminary cost estimate, whenever possible. 

You will have nine months to file a claim upon the date of delivery. However, if your delivery receipt does not record damage or loss, you have five days to file a conceal claim. Therefore, it is important that once you assess the damage to your cargo, you move quickly to begin the process.

Step 2: Collect These Documents Needed to File a Cargo Damage Claim  

In order to file a cargo damage claim, you'll need:

  • Bill of lading or other contract carriage documents.
  • Commercial invoice/packing list.
  • Copies of any loading or discharge receipts/reports (over, short and damage/ discrepancy report) and delivery receipts.
  • Copy of claim letter to third parties holding them responsible (as applies)
  • Pictures of the damaged freight (if you have them)
  • Proof of the value of the commodities lost or damaged

Step 3: Submit the Claim on Time 

Your claim must be delivered to the carrier within the time period specified in the carrier's contract (usually 9 months from delivery).

According to Department of Transportation regulations, the carrier should acknowledge the receipt of the claim and assign it a claim number within 30 days. While the time it takes to resolve a claim varies, the claim should be paid or disallowed within 120 days.

Need More Help with Cargo Claims? 

Gulf Marine Contractors (GMC), a leading on-demand marine agency and logistics provider to the offshore energy industry, can handle the cargo claim process on your behalf. With an industry-experienced team on your side, GMC can help minimize damage impact and expedite the claim process in a way that will save you time and money. To learn more about GMC's insurance policy, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Monday, 06 February 2023