Getting insurance for international shipments bring peace of mind for both shippers and importers but filing, proving and getting paid for claims can be difficult. It can be particularly challenging when insuring direct with the carriers - which is ironic because this integrated approach has intrinsic advantages. However, we find shippers most often disappointed by the carrier's insurance.
Important thing so consider when insuring your shipment
As mentioned above, most shippers simply select "declared value" or other protection program from th carriers them self. This is as easy as checking the box and has the advantage of integrated processing, payment and shipping. However, the rules for getting approval from claims are both difficult and non-negotiable.
Please note that information presented in this post and all Jet Worldwide online content is for general information only. No representations are made that the information is error free. Shippers are advised to confirm details with their carriers, insurance providers and regulatory authorities prior to shipping.
Why Declared Value and not Insurance?
The use of the term "insurance" is often avoided as using this term would subject the carrier to burdensome regulations related to capital reserves for property and casualty Insurance companies.
To avoid such capital reserve and other regulatory oversight, carriers often refer to their programs as "shipment protection" or "declared value".
Ensure the Product You Are Shipping is Insurable
Insurance is great to have in case your package is accidentally lost or damaged by the carrier. Confirm with the carrier that the product you are shipping can be insured.
Insurance Claim for A Shipment Lost in Transit
This is among the easiest claims to get approval but the complicating part being when the carrier declares the shipment "lost" versus mis-routed or still in transit. Although such cases are rare, this is when it is best to have insurance direct with the carrier. Otherwise, there can be a discrepancy as to when the carrier declares the loss and when an insurance claim has to filed.
The Importance of Packaging for Insurance Claim
The most common reason for claims is for damaged goods caused by insufficient packaging. We advise our customers that the goods must be packed well enough to withstand the "standard rigours of courier handling." The definition of packing standards can get rather confusing (see section below on ISTA 3A standard) a good rule of thumb is if your package can goods cannot withstand a +5 foot drop to ground and other common sense measures.
- Goods should be encased securely in a cardboard or rigid box.
- Securing your merchandise often involves initial packaging such as a padded envelope, plastic bag or small box then put it in the larger box.
- All exterior seams and flaps on the outer box should be secure with packing tape. As mentioned above, use additional inner packing materials should be deployed to minimize, secure and protect the movement of goods.
- Keep in mind that regular courier handling includes packages being sometimes dropped - perhaps several times during transportation. As mentioned above, proper packaging includes being able to withstand a drop test.
- An indication of insufficient packaging is when the exterior packaging is in tact but inner goods are damaged.
Packaging Standards for Parcel Delivery System Shipment up to 70 Kg
Carriers often refer to the "ISTA 3A packaging standard" to define the type of packing required. to withstand the standard rigours of parcel handling. The tests 3A standard is a simulation test for packages shipped individually* through a parcel delivery system. The test is appropriate for different types of packages commonly handled by air and ground couriers: standard, small, flat and elongated packages.
* Packages originally shipped on a pallet may need additional packaging if then being shipped individually via a parcel carrier
Product and Packaging Labels for Insurance
Discretion is an important element for protecting your shipment. Nothing on the packaging or label should reveal the nature or value of your item. Beware of wording that might inadvertently convey the contents of your package. Obvious words that relate directly to valuables are strictly prohibited for insurance purposes.
For international shipments requiring a customs form, place the customs form under the shipping label inside the plastic bag provided by the carrier. Many carriers offer paperless trade whereby the customs invoice does not - in most cases - have to be included with the shipment.
Pictures of packaging Prior to Shipping for Insurance Verification
Before shipping always take pictures of your item and its packaging. Once completed, take a photo of the final shipment with the shipping label visible.
Instructions to Receiver: Document Damage Upon Arrival
It is critically important that the receiver take note of any damage at the time of delivery. We strongly encourage your recipient to refuse the package or to write clear notations of damage on the delivery slip explaining what is damaged. Also, notify both the insurance company and carrier immediately regarding the damage and include photographs. The recipients email address should be included when purchasing insurance.
Keep Both Damaged Goods and Packaging
Keep the damaged packages, boxes and pictures until processing of the claim has been completed.
Direct shipments and third parties can complicate and often invalidate shipment claims. For example, goods accepted by a third party, to virtual addresses, or parcel shops generally are considered invalid and can give cause for a refusal of a claim.
Time limit for package insurance claims
All insurance carrier have a time limit defining when a claim can be filed. The time from varies by provider but is generally within a week or two after delivery. Some insurance carriers state that claims must be filed within 14 days from when package is sent - versus when it was delivered.
When should you take out insurance for Shipments
Our advise is to self insure up to a level you feel comfortable. For example, it is probably best to simply take the risk for a $200 shipment as the insurance processes would likely not be worth the effort. Keep in mind that many insurance policies have a deductible when insuring for higher values.
Insured value versus actual value of shipment
It is important to remember that payment of insurance claims are for the actual value of the goods up to the insured amount. In other words, a damaged item valued at $2,000 would be covered for $2,000 even if it was insured for a greater amount.
Items needed to file an insurance claim
The paperwork and data required to submit a claim varies by carrier but most often can include:
- Carrier Shipping label
- Proof of value of the insured item (such as retail / purchase invoice or certificate of sale)
- Pictures of the item and its packaging
- Copy of the claim made to the carrier
- Certificate of loss provided by the carrier
- In case of damage, notations of damage/ documentation of damage upon receipt
- In case of theft, a copy of the police complaint