Carrier Liability vs. Freight Insurance. What’s the Difference?

06/02/2017 — Jerry Spelic

Freight damage and loss is a reality of shipping. It’s not a matter of if it will happen to you; it’s a matter of when. When damage or loss occurs, your first thought is, “How will I be compensated?” To answer the question, you need to understand the difference between carrier liability and freight insurance. A damaged shipping box is covered in tape to hold it together.>

Carrier Liability

Every freight shipment is covered by some form of liability coverage, determined by the carrier. The amount of coverage is based on the commodity type or freight class of the goods being shipped and covers up to a certain dollar amount per pound of freight. 

In some cases, the carrier liability coverage may be less than the actual value of the freight. It’s common to see liability restricted to $0.25 per lb. or less for LTL or $100,000 for a full truckload. Also, if your goods are used, the liability value per pound will be significantly less that the liability value per pound of new goods. When you arrange your freight to be shipped, it’s very important to know the carrier’s liability for freight loss and how much is covered.

Freight damage and loss is a headache. In order to receive compensation, a shipper must file a claim proving the carrier is at fault for the damaged or lost freight. Carrier liability limitations include instances where damage is due to acts of God (weather related causes) or acts of the shipper (the freight was packaged or loaded improperly). In these cases, the carrier is not at fault. Additionally, if damage is not noted on the delivery receipt, carriers will deny any liability. 

If the carrier accepts the claim evidence provided by the shipping customer, then they will pay for the cost of repair (if applicable) or manufacturing cost, not the retail sell price. The carrier may also pay a partial claim with an explanation as to why they are not 100% liable. The carrier will try to decrease their cost for the claim as much as possible.   

Freight Insurance

Freight insurance (sometimes called cargo insurance or goods in transit insurance) does not require you to prove that the carrier was at fault for damage or loss, just that damage or loss occurred. Freight insurance is a good way to protect your customers and your business from loss or damage to your freight while in transit. There is an extra charge of course, and it is typically based on the declared value of the goods being shipped. Most freight insurance plans are provided by third-party insurers.

As mentioned earlier, your freight might have a higher value than what is covered by carrier liability, such as shipping used goods. Another example is very heavy items. Carrier liability may only pay $0.25 per pound for textbooks that have a much higher value. This is a great example of when freight insurance is extremely helpful in the event of damage or loss.

Carrier Liability vs. Freight Insurance in the Claims Process

If your freight is only covered by carrier liability coverage:

·         Your claim must be filed within 9 months of delivery

·         The delivery receipt must include notice of damage

·         Proof of value and proof of loss is required

·         The carrier has 30 days to acknowledge your claim and must respond within 120 days

·         Carrier negligence must be proven

If your shipment is covered by freight insurance:

·         Proof of value and proof of loss is required

·         Claims are typically paid within 30 days

·         You are not required to prove carrier negligence

Carrier liability coverage and freight insurance can be complicated and each carrier has its own liability policies. If you have questions like “how much does freight insurance cost?” or “what does freight insurance cover?” or to get a freight insurance quote, contact PartnerShip at 800-599-2902 or get a quote now! We’ll help you ship smarter so you can stay competitive.