In this guide, you will learn how easy filing a freight claim is.

To help find answers about filing a freight claim, we’ve put together an interactive table of contents. Click each link to be transferred to its section – or, you can scroll down and start from the beginning.

Step 1: Inspection During Delivery

Step 2: Keep the Damaged Freight

Step 3: Pay the Invoice

Step 4: Understand the Bill of Lading

Step 5: Keep All Necessary Documents

Step 6: Filing the Freight Claim Form


Step by Step Guide for Filing Freight Claims

Filing a freight claim is a process that can be more of a headache than anything since accidents happen. There are many causes, including those that are outside of our reach, that contribute to such accidents in freight shipping. Whether you are a small business owner or a corporate professional, there will be a time when a shipment is damaged during transit by ground, air or sea. When this happens, freight claims are brought into play. Even if something like this can be extremely difficult and time-consuming, it does not mean it should be ignored. Filing a freight claim form can be a long and difficult process, but will be worth it for the compensation of the damaged freight.

Step 1: Inspection During Delivery

The first step is knowing what filing a freight claim entails. Freight claims are legal demands against the carrier for a payment of money for loss or damages to shipments. The claim must be legitimate and include damages that may have been caused during the shipment. It must be noted here that not all damages are a result of the carrier but can come from natural circumstances and shipper’s negligence (see Carmack Amendment).

That being said, it is not up to the carriers to automatically file damaged freight.  When the shipment arrives at the destination, make sure to check for any damages before signing the receipt. Pay attention to every part or item of the cargo; open crates and containers if needed. Concealed damages may happen, and failure to find these damages can shift responsibility to the receiver, rather than the carrier. It is important to document all damages with their accompanying photos.

Freight shipment inspection for damages

It is important to have qualified individuals inspect every inch of the freight to note any damages.


Step 2: Keep the Damaged Freight

Refusing the freight will cause more problems and potentially more money at the end of the day. Carriers will have to ship it back to the facility for processing. Although some carriers may be okay with this, it may cost additional fees. Those that receive the freight are responsible for all storage and processing fees. Therefore, looking for a reliable warehousing option is beneficial to the success of a winning freight claim. Although some receivers may not have warehousing options, finding a third-party source would be the better option than storage that could potentially further damage the items.

Related Article: Success in Supply Chain Starts with Warehousing Efficiency

Keep damaged freight for freight claims

Keep all damaged freight and readily available for any claims processing.


If the claim rewards full value for the damages, carriers have the option to take full ownership. Getting rid of damaged freight could lead to a claim not fully getting paid off, or completely denied. The carrier has the right to salvage the goods.

Step 3: Pay the Invoice

To receive compensation for the damaged freight, it is important to know that the invoice must be paid before filing a freight claim form. Not paying off the bill can hinder resolving the claim. Even if it’s a sure fact that the carrier caused the damages, it will save much more future headaches if the freight bill is paid off. It may be tempting to withhold the payment, but this will just delay the process even longer, especially with global shipments.

Always take the higher road when it comes to paying off the claims.

Step 4: Understand the Bill of Lading

The bill of lading is a legally required document that must be completed before a freight shipment is taken out. It works as a receipt for freight services and seen as a contract that protects both freight carrier and shipper. This document contains detailed information on the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being shipped. It is normally issued by a carrier and given to the shipper.

Freight claim laws vary across different provinces, states, and countries. Looking at the Bill of Lading will help determine what the claim rules are and if there are any special laws that must be followed. It must be understood that the point of origin will dictate the jurisdiction in which the claim will be settled.

For example, if a shipment is delivered to Mexico from Canada incurred damages, then the Canadian claim laws will apply during the freight claims process.

Step 5: Keep All Necessary Documents for Freight Claims

    • Copy of the freight bill (paid)
    • Copy of the invoice showing the amount paid
    • Copy of the packing slip
    • Copy of the Bill of Lading
    • Photos of damages
    • Write up of losses or damages
    • Proof of delivery
    • Completed freight claim form
Freight claims documents

Ensure that all the documents listed above are kept together and readily available during the freight claims process.


Step 6: Fill out the Freight Claim Form

Once all damages are noted, documents are gathered and the corresponding parties are notified, it is time to fill out the freight claim form. Even though filling out the form may be the last step, it is important to know that carriers must acknowledge a claim within 30 days of initial filing. The sooner the freight claim form is filled out, the sooner the process starts for reimbursement on damages. Failure to submit within the allotted time will risk a voided claim.

It is also imperative that the claimant mitigates any additional losses and damages to the best of their ability while taking action in a timely manner. If a package is damaged, it should never be left out in the rain, snow or intense heat. This could potentially damage the shipment even further and will not be covered by the claim form.


Improper handling of freight claims can be extremely expensive. Not only does the process can incur additional costs, it can be very time consuming, frustrating and drawn out. The point of the matter is having a well- trusted freight forwarding and shipping expert in your corner can help reduce risks of loss and damages. If you are looking for a global freight and logistics company to handle your cargo, Mach 1 Global will be your trusted experts. Contact us today to get started!


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