the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
5 Foolproof Ways to Take on Manufacturing Shipping Challenges
01/11/2022 — Jen Deming
The manufacturing industry is vital to our economy, but producing components and materials is just the first step in the fulfillment process. Manufacturers have to make sure products are shipped efficiently, arrive on time, and don’t experience damage. In addition to rising costs and other issues we’ve seen across all industries, manufacturers face a unique set of logistics obstacles. You may be shipping large, fragile shipments that are expensive and hard to handle. Services and equipment needs can vary day-to-day, so it’s important to find the right shipping solutions that meet your specific needs. Read on to learn five foolproof ways to take on manufacturing shipping challenges.
- Prioritize the safety of your loads
Manufacturers ship a wide variety of commodities, from small parts and components, to fully-assembled heavy machinery. For any-sized load, you need to take the safety and security of your shipments into consideration in order to limit damage and other issues. Start with regularly auditing your parcel and freight carriers to ensure their service levels meet your business expectations. Spec out your shipping safety “need to haves,” such as security during transit, carrier reputation, and damage statistics. Keep track of what’s working, as well as any issues you are experiencing with current carriers. If they aren’t making the cut, do some research. Who do your customers and colleagues prefer working with and why? Try out new carrier options and look into alternate service levels that may better offset your shipping challenges. Most importantly, ensure that your preferred carriers are communicated to your shipping department and warehouse team as well as any outside parties such as suppliers who may be arranging your shipping.
Because security is of the utmost importance, ensure that your packaging is perfected, whether you are shipping small parts via parcel services or large freight orders. You should use quality materials and keep some basics in mind:
- Don’t reuse packaging to ensure structural integrity
- Limit extra space to avoid shifting and breakage during transit
- Use pallet wrap to keep loose components together
- When shipping assembled machinery, consider using custom crates rather than pallets
- Double-down on service options that encourage timely delivery
Manufacturing any type of product typically involves several different parties who tackle specific steps during fabrication, from start to finished product. If anything goes wrong logistically during that process, it can disrupt the entire supply chain and lead to more shipping challenges. It’s crucial that your business is utilizing shipping providers and services that prioritize timely, expedient delivery.
Both FedEx and UPS offer different service levels depending on the urgency of your parcel shipment. If you’re in a crunch, FedEx can help make a speedy delivery with options like FedEx Priority Overnight® or FedEx 2Day A.M®. UPS also offers expedited services, such as UPS Express Critical® and UPS Next Day Air®.
If you have a true freight emergency, take a look at estimated transit times between carriers and their services. It’s probably not the time to use low-cost or asset-light carriers, as they typically have longer transit times. Many LTL freight carriers offer time critical, expedited, and guaranteed options. Just-in-time delivery options can also ensure your shipments are delivered as soon as possible. Because these services often use dedicated trucks or air/ground solutions to maximize efficiency, they can be pricey. Be mindful of your budget, and stay on top of any emergencies when you can. If expedited services are necessary, make sure you quote with several carriers and explore all options in order to keep costs low.
Confirm your freight class before you ship
Manufacturing businesses ship diverse products or commodities to any number of delivery locations. Whether your business is in the field of precision medical equipment, mold builders, automotive engineering, or any other specialty field, a major manufacturing shipping challenge is being an expert on your products’ specific freight class and NMFC codes.
The challenge with not knowing these codes can affect everything from your total freight cost to the result of any claims filed. A common mistake many shippers make is using an outdated or blanket NMFC or class code. For example, the ‘machinery’ group NMFC code is 11400. There are over fifty major categories that specify exactly what type of machinery, and they range anywhere from class 55 to 500. That’s hundreds of dollars difference in a final bill. The class for your specific shipment is determined not only by the product itself, but also density, dimensions and weight, packaging type, whether it’s assembled or in parts, and other factors. On top of that, these designations and codes are updated regularly. If you haven’t shipped this product very recently, you need to check it again, especially if any packaging specs have changed.
In the event that you enter the incorrect class code on your BOL, your freight will likely be flagged by the carrier. This will lead to an inspection, and some additional fees that are going to both inflate your bill and delay your delivery. Because freight class can be complicated, especially for manufacturers, it’s important to have more than a basic understanding of how LTL freight rates are determined. If you have any trouble finding the most accurate class code for your shipment, and you probably will, don’t hesitate to call the carrier or work with a freight broker who can help you.
- Make sure the value of your load is covered
Damage is a huge concern, especially based on the types of products being shipped. Freight shipping involves tons of handling and frequent stops at terminals. As a result, it’s probably not a matter of if, but when, you’ll get hit with damages. We don’t want to jinx your shipment, but let’s explore the event that your load encounters some damages or loss while on the road.
Freight damage is frustrating from the start because it’s expensive, can hold up the fulfillment of an order, and potentially complicate relationships with your customers. Because many manufacturers’ shipments are extra fragile, hard to maneuver, and worth a lot of money, the problem can be compounded. It’s the shipper’s responsibility to prove the carrier is at fault if damage occurs, and frankly, a freight carrier will do everything they can to avoid responsibility. Even if you do win a claim and receive reimbursement, there are limits to carrier liability coverage and payouts. They may not meet the entire value of your load.
To avoid extra headaches, make sure that you have your own freight insurance that will fully cover the value of your load. It also does not require that you prove the carrier is at fault for damage or loss, just that the damage occurred. While there is an extra charge for the insurance, it’s usually based on the declared value of your freight, and it is extremely worthwhile should damage occur.
Use a freight provider that offers custom shipping solutions
There’s not always enough time in the day or people in your shipping department to stay on top of the many manufacturing shipping challenges. Let’s face it, a one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work for an industry that has to constantly reinvent itself and adapt to consumer needs, tech advancements, and other changes. A third-party freight provider can help identify the unique needs of your business, without cutting any corners.
Cutting costs is always at the top of the priorities list, and taking a fresh look at your shipping procedures can be a fruitful place to start. A 3PL can help leverage carrier relationships and buying power to acquire better shipping discounts for your business. PartnerShip is connected to many manufacturing and industrial trade associations, like NTMA and PMPA. As a benefit provider to members, PartnerShip helps manufacturing businesses save on shipping costs with competitive rates with carriers who prioritize safety and better shipment handling.
Working with a freight provider can take on several of your shipping challenges at once.
- Conducting carrier audits for better pricing and service.
- Managing claims and acting as your advocate, by touching base with carriers and making sure proper documentation is in order.
- Determining if and when you may need to use expedited freight services, and helping to quote and schedule your day-to-day shipments.
- Finding special equipment options that will balance cost and safety if you have an extra special load.
There are a lot of shipping obstacles to keep track of, and they can be a burden to navigate. Depending on your business size, your budget, and the time you have available, it’s not always possible to become an expert on your own. PartnerShip has the experience and proficiency to help take on your greatest shipping challenges, so you can get back to business. Download our all-encompassing guide to freight claims to learn more about how you can effectively resolve a top shipping obstacle for manufacturers.
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- Prioritize the safety of your loads
6 Strategies to Side-Step Concealed Damage Claim Drama
07/27/2021 — Jen Deming
“Freight claim” is a bad word that no one wants to hear in shipping. Submitting a freight claim and hoping that a carrier will fairly reimburse you for replacements and repairs often feels like a shot in the dark. Concealed damage claims, specifically, can escalate pain points because they’re even more challenging to navigate. Concealed claims include damages not immediately noticeable at delivery, such as loss related to temperature changes in the van or shifting of product in the packaging. The good news is that concealed damage claims don’t have to be a death sentence for your freight. There are six ways that you can set yourself up for a win with your concealed freight claim.
Strategy 1 - Do not turn away the driver
Right out of the gate, if you notice that your shipment is damaged at arrival, it can be tempting to turn away the driver and refuse the load. Many shippers erroneously think that by accepting the freight, you are giving the carrier the “all clear” and therefore responsible for any damages. This is not true — the first step in getting compensation is accepting the load. If you refuse the load, the carrier will have to take the shipment back to a terminal for storage. This is especially important in the case of concealed damages, as it increases risk for even more handling issues that aren’t immediately obvious, as well as potentially racking up some extra fees for storage.
Also important to note, many insurance policies state that the freight must be accepted in order to start the claims process. Accepting the freight ensures you are in control of the situation and the next steps for the shipment, not the carrier. Once the load is accepted, you can start reviewing the shipment for concealed damages and start the claims process.
Strategy 2 - Take your time inspecting the delivery
Freight delivery drivers have many stops to make throughout the day and try their best to adhere to a pretty tight delivery deadline. It’s in their best interest to move along quickly by limiting time spent at each stop. So it’s pretty common to feel a driver may be rushing the delivery process in order to get back on the road.
Even though you may feel hurried by the driver, know that as a consignee, you have the right to take adequate time to properly inspect your shipment. Your first step should be a cursory review of outer packaging such as crates, boxes, and binding materials like shrink wrap and packing tape. Confirm you have the correct load by reviewing address labels. Directive stickers like those indicating fragile shipments or temperature-controlled items should be present to help indicate that it was packaged properly in the first place.
With the driver present, open palletized boxes and crates, starting with those that have any visible damage. Make sure anyone accepting the delivery knows what to look for on an initial inspection. Afterwards, conduct a secondary, more detailed inspection of all freight in order to find less obvious, concealed damages.
Strategy 3 - Be thorough on the delivery receipt
Upon delivery, a piece of documentation called the delivery receipt will be presented to the consignee to essentially sign off on the shipment. This serves as legal proof that the load arrived “free and clear”, indicating no damages or loss while moving under the responsibility of the carrier. When marking the delivery receipt, it’s critical to note anything that may seem off or potentially damaged in your shipment. Simply adding that the shipment is “pending further review” on the receipt will not protect you, so it’s especially important to act quickly and thoroughly check for damages at the time of delivery. While reviewing alongside the driver, indicate anything like item counts, broken crates, torn packaging, holes, or stains that may indicate mishandling or tampering.
Oftentimes, these notations will result in an exception. Exceptions are notes on a delivery receipt that indicate anything out of the ordinary, but may not lead to a claim. If packaging is damaged but the product inside is intact, you can rest easy knowing that you have your findings on file. That way, if concealed damages are found on secondary review, you have evidence that something was amiss with the delivery from the start. Finally, be sure when signing the delivery receipt that you have the driver confirm and sign as well.
Strategy 4 - Take plenty of pictures
The first rule of damage claims is especially important for concealed damages — the more evidence you submit, the more you protect yourself against a denied freight claim. To supplement any documentation you may submit for the claim, it is in your best interest to take pictures or video of different points in the load’s progress, starting with the shipper’s packing procedures. That way, you have the proof that the load was handed off in perfect condition when it was tendered to the carrier.
Photograph the initial inspection and secondary review. Snap pictures throughout the delivery inspection from start to finish, including unopened boxes, visible damage, as well as photos of packed product once opened. If you find damages, make sure you take photos or video of the found damages from every angle, with and without flash or in different lighting scenarios. Backing up documentation with supplemental pictures of the paperwork noting damages is also helpful to have.
Strategy 5 - Act quickly when filing
A common misconception is that carriers automatically start the claims process when notified of any damages. This is a fatal mistake for your concealed damage claim. In general, concealed damage claims typically need to be filed with the carrier within five days. If filed in that time, you have to prove that it didn’t happen at the destination.
Knowing you have a very strict timeline when filing your freight claim can make an already tense situation harder to handle. If you work with a 3PL broker, you get some extra help in meeting deadlines for filing and setting up a inspection appointment with the carrier. You’ll also get advice on what documentation you need to be set up for success, as well as advice on other strategies you can use to ensure a full payout.
Strategy 6 - Consider freight insurance options
One of the most important concealed damage claim tips you can follow is to seriously consider outside freight insurance options. Carrier liability is limited, and they will do everything within their power to pay the least amount possible for damaged shipments. Payouts are usually determined by product type and class number, which means even if you follow filing procedures to the letter, you may still receive reimbursement that is nowhere near the complete value of your freight.
By using third-party freight insurance, you are covered for the full value of your load, regardless of the commodity or class. You may have more flexibility on filing times and do not have to prove that the damage was caused by the carrier. If your shipment experiences concealed damages, third-party insurance can help alleviate the escalated stress associated with filing for damages found after delivery.
You should remember...
Concealed damage claims are extra tricky, and most carriers count on you making mistakes during inspections and filing so they can avoid pricey payouts. But, you can win concealed damage claims if you follow some key steps that are extra important in the case of hidden damages. PartnerShip experts have had success winning concealed damage claim payouts, and can help guide your filing process from start-to-finish, better ensuring you are compensated for your damaged freight.
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Carrier Liability vs. Freight Insurance. What’s the Difference?
07/15/2021 — PartnerShipFreight 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 often, “how will I be compensated?” To answer the question, you need to understand the difference between carrier liability and freight insurance.
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 than the liability value per pound of new goods. Liability policies can vary, so it’s very important to know the carrier’s liability for freight loss and how much is covered before you arrange your freight shipment.
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 attempt to deny 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 (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
Deciding which option is best for your shipment
Anything that comes at an added cost needs to be evaluated critically and freight insurance is no different. There are a few things to consider as you weigh the potential cost and risk of damage and loss versus the cost and benefit of insurance. You'll need to think about the commodities you're shipping, how time critical your shipment is, and if you'd be able to weather the financial burden that comes with a denied or delayed claim payout.
Understanding your carrier's liability coverage and knowing the ins and outs of freight insurance can be tricky. If you have questions like “how much does freight insurance cost?” or “what does freight insurance cover?” the team at PartnerShip can help.
If you want to learn more about the freight claims process, check out our comprehensive guide.
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Pallet Packing Mistakes to Avoid
06/10/2021 — Leah Palnik
Pallet packing isn’t something you can take lightly. One wrong move and the whole shipment could lose strength and stability – risking damage to your freight. Rather than conducting your own experiments, check out these common pallet packing mistakes so you know what to avoid.
Mistake #1: Choosing the wrong pallet
Pallet packing begins at the very foundation of your shipment – the pallet itself. It may be tempting to reuse old pallets for your shipments but if you’re not looking out for structural integrity, you could be in trouble. Avoid using pallets with broken boards or protruding nail heads.
Using an alternative material pallet can also cause some issues. Wooden pallets are the standard, but pallets made from metal, plastic, and corrugated materials have all entered the market. However, not all pallets are created equal. These pallets are good alternatives for certain specialized needs, but issues like weight, movement, and pallet strength make them not suitable for all types of freight. Before you consider swaying from wooden pallets, make sure to do your research.
Mistake #2: Not properly packing individual boxes
Before you can stack your pallet, you need to pack your individual boxes or cartons. Even if your boxes are secure on the pallet, the contents inside the cartons can shift. Leaving excess space and not providing proper impact protection is a common mistake that many shippers make. Start by right-sizing your boxes – leave just enough room for the product and the needed impact protection. Anything more is wasted space that you will need to fill with cushioning like paper pad or packing peanuts.
Mistake #3: Stacking inadequately
You may think that the way you stack your cartons is just about making it fit on your pallet. However, neglecting to follow certain best practices that increase strength can be a fatal mistake. During pallet packing, not evenly distributing weight and not placing the heaviest boxes at the bottom is a quick way to increase your risk of damage. Using pallets that are too small and thus leaving overhang is also a common mistake that will make your freight vulnerable.
The stacking patterns you use when packing your pallet are also extremely important. One of the biggest offenders is pyramid stacking. This kind of pallet packing pattern leaves the cartons at the top at greater risk of being damaged and makes the load less secure. When possible, an aligned column pattern is best. Stacking your pallet in a way that ensures it is level and flat will put you in the best position to avoid damage.
Mistake #4: Skimping on stretch wrap
If you don’t currently use a stretch wrap machine, you want to make sure your manual wrapping technique is up to par. There are a couple common mistakes to look out for. First, make sure you’re wrapping around the pallet enough. You should be making at least 5 wraps around the entire shipment. Second, twisting the wrap is something that is often overlooked. You should twist the wrap every other rotation to increase the durability.
Mistake #5: Not labeling correctly
After you go through all that work of ensuring you’ve packed your pallet in a way that reduces its risk of damage, you don’t want to run into issues just because you neglected to label your shipment properly. One label is not enough. You want to make sure the shipping label is on each side of your pallet, with the consignee information clearly visible.
Pallet packing may seem simple, but these missteps can create complicated issues. If you’ve discovered that you’ve made any of these common mistakes and want to learn more about packaging best practices, download our free white paper!
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5 Frustrating Reasons Your Freight Claim Was Denied
02/19/2021 — Jen Deming
While we’d like to think that freight loss and damage can be avoided, realistically it’s something every shipper will face. That means that at some point you will likely need to file the dreaded freight claim. Unfortunately, when it comes to the final say in payouts, carriers are in the driver’s seat. The good news is, most denied claims or insufficient payouts are caused by five common oversights. If you can avoid these issues, you are more likely to win your claim and recoup your losses.
- It falls into one of the exclusions outline by the Carmack Amendment
The Carmack Amendment was passed in 1935 in order to protect carriers from exclusive responsibility for any damage or loss occurring during transit. It sets up five scenarios that legally exclude the carrier from liability. If damage or loss occurs due to one of these instances, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to collect for the damages.
Act of God – Unavoidable events such as natural disasters, adverse weather conditions, medical emergencies, etc. that may befall the driver during transit fall into this category. These events have to be determined as unforeseeable and inevitable in order for the carrier to remain free from responsibility.
Public Enemy – If the damage-causing incident occurred during a defensive call to action by the government or “military force”, the carrier is not responsible for damages. While rare during peacetime, this scenario has also been applied to acts of domestic terrorism, but does not refer to hijackers, cargo theft, etc.
Default of Shipper – This scenario is the most common exclusion and places full responsibility for damages squarely on the shipper. If damage is caused by negligence of the shipper, due to poor packaging, improper labeling, rough handling during loading, and other factors, the carrier is exempt from liability.
Public Authority – An incident that results in damage or delay due to government intervention like road closures, quarantines, trade embargoes, etc. are unavoidable and exempt carriers from responsibility.
Inherent Vice – Some high-risk commodities deteriorate naturally over time, such as live plants, food, medical supplies, etc. As long as that deterioration is not being sped up by the carrier through negligence, they are safe from liability.
- You are missing key documentation
When you are submitting a claim, it is important that you have every piece of paperwork filled out correctly and in proper order for the carrier to review. The more documentation you can provide about specifics relating to your load, the better chance you have at winning a claim. It’s important for you to prove that the shipment was in good condition and securely packaged at the time of pick-up. Taking pictures of the product before, during, and after packaging is completed is a smart move.
You should also make sure that the bill-of-lading (BOL) is filled out correctly with precise weight measurements, commodity descriptions, classifications, and piece counts. The BOL serves as a legal contract between the carrier and shipper – errors on this document will have far-reaching consequences. If your weight is off or the commodity/classification is incorrect, liability payouts may be less than you expect.
An invoice determining the actual value of your product is key in determining a payout, as well as packing slips that help back up your piece counts. Other supporting documents like the paid freight bill, inspection reports, weight certificates, replacement and repair invoices, etc., are all great things to keep on hand in the event of a claim.
In addition to obtaining as many pieces of documentation as possible to support your claim, it’s key to present everything to the carrier in a timely manner. You have up to nine months from the delivery date to submit a damage claim. For lost shipments, you have up to 9 months to file from the date it was estimated to arrive. Concealed damage claims are much more urgent – a claim must be filed within five days. So after receiving your delivery, be sure to unpack your shipments and check for hidden damage as soon as possible.
- You didn't attempt to mitigate the damages
Even if the carrier takes responsibility for the damages caused to your freight, they are going to fight to pay the least amount possible. It is important to show that you have attempted to mitigate and lessen the effect of these damages as much as possible. Carriers are likely to want to know whether you attempted to salvage the shipment. Were you able to have the broken or missing items repaired or sold at a discount, if possible? It’s important that the proper commodity, nature of the damage, replacement costs, and potential loss of business are accurately represented to determine the full extent of loss.
The carrier has the right to inspect the damaged shipment as part of the freight claims process. So, it is very important not to dispose of damaged freight, unless storing it poses a threat to safety or health, such as with hazardous materials or spoiled food items. If this is the case, the carrier must be notified as soon as possible so they can act on inspecting the freight if need be. Preventing them from the opportunity to do so can result in an immediate denied claim.
- You haven't paid your freight bill
The last thing you might want to do is to pay a carrier for a shipment that they damaged during transit. However, it is important to be current on your invoices if you are submitting a freight claim. If you owe the carrier in freight charges, either for past due invoices or for the damaged load, you’re likely to get denied for a payout. Even if you do get approved, the reimbursement process may be drawn out or even amended to a much lower amount due to the total charges you owe the shipper.
The most important thing to note is that accidents and damages happen, despite the best of intentions. Paying your freight bill on time, even if a damage claim will be submitted, is a sign of good faith and can help maintain a working business relationship with a carrier who otherwise serves your business well.
- You've signed for a clear proof of delivery
If you take one point away from this list of tips, let this be the one: remember to inspect your shipment before signing the proof of delivery (POD). This document acknowledges the arrival of the load to the point of delivery. By simply signing this document and allowing the driver to continue on his way, you are stating that it has delivered free and clear without any loss or damages.
Smart shippers note: this is your opportunity to review and inspect your shipments carefully and note any discrepancies on the POD. Open boxes and check for concealed damages or loss. This is especially important if you have multiple pallets, crates, or shrink-wrapped items. Make sure what you have matches the BOL. If your BOL shows two shrink-wrapped pallets of stacked boxes, but the total piece count is off, make sure you note those missing items. Otherwise, a carrier can claim they delivered “two pallets” as stated on the BOL.
If you are the shipper, make sure your delivery location knows the importance of these procedures. It is on them to take pictures, note discrepancies, and challenge the carrier accordingly at the point of delivery.
If you’re not prepared, it’s much more likely that your freight claim will get denied. Use the checklist below to make sure you’re in a position to get the payout you deserve.
The bottom line
Freight damage is frustrating, time-intensive, and expensive. While it’s reassuring that you can submit a claim with the carrier in order to recoup your losses, it’s important that you are thorough in the information you provide. The more you know about freight claims, the better prepared you are when going to bat against the carriers. Check out our free comprehensive guide to freight claims so you can save yourself some time and spare yourself the headache.
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- It falls into one of the exclusions outline by the Carmack Amendment
Logistics and Legal Rights: Where Do Shippers Stand?
01/23/2020 — Jen Deming
Every shipper will likely encounter loss or damage and seek reimbursement by filing a claim. In order to navigate this tricky scenario, smart shippers become their own advocates by taking a deep dive into the legal policies that affect shipper's rights and responsibilities. When going against powerhouse national carriers who have every resource in their corner, you can arm yourself with critical information that helps you get the best outcome possible for your business.
The Carmack Amendment Basics
First things first, the term "Carmack Amendment" is frequently thrown around in the industry, but what exactly is it and why should shippers care? Put simply, this law was set in place in 1935 to draw the line between carrier and shipper liability. Prior to that, with the Bill of Lading (BOL) serving as a legal contract of carriage, carriers were almost exclusively held responsible for damage or loss. With the passage of the amendment, it was determined that the carrier should be held responsible unless one of the outline exclusions is met. This change let to a positive impact on the industry, incentivizing both carriers to proactively prevent theft and shippers to more effectively prepare their freight.
5 Carrier Exclusions to Responsibility
The Carmack Amendment clearly outlines five specific instances in which a carrier is not to be held liable for damage, delay, or loss to freight. These events are intended to protect the carrier from circumstances outside of their control. The five are:
- Acts of God: A carrier cannot be held liable for instances of natural disasters or other uncontrollable phenomenon such as severe weather, medical emergencies involving a driver, etc. In order to act under this defense, the event must be notably unanticipated and unable to be avoided.
- Public Enemy: Carriers are exempt from damage liability if the incident was caused during a defensive call to action by the government, or "military force". While there has been relative peacetime on American soil for quite some time, the "public enemy" defense has also applied to acts of domestic terrorism in some recent court cases. It does not include events caused by hijackers, cargo theft, organized crime, or other criminal acts.
- Default of Shipper: This is the most notable exclusion for shippers to be mindful of and indicates any event that the carrier can prove damage was caused by the shipper. This can include a defense of negligence, poor packaging, improper labeling and other mistakes made during preparation. The majority of carriers will try to prove these circumstances if there is any doubt a shipper could have made a mistake. Shippers must properly offset this risk with secure packaging, correct labeling, and maintaining communication with your customer for delivery.
- Public Authority: If the government takes action that results in damage or delay, the carrier is not liable. Government policy cannot be controlled, so road closures, trade embargoes, recalls, and quarantines all exempt a carrier.
- Inherent Vice/Nature of Goods: Some commodities are naturally subject to deterioration over time, and as long as the defect was not caused or sped up by the carrier negligence, they are safe from liability. A common example of high-risk commodities include produce, live plants, and medical supplies. If you are shipping temperature controlled or time sensitive products, be sure that you are taking every precaution to ensure security and viability.
Just as there are five distinct factors that exclude carriers from responsibility, there are three factors the shipper must prove in order to start a damage claim. To begin, it must be demonstrated that the shipment was picked up in "good" condition. This protects the carrier should the shipment have been damaged to begin with. In order to defend yourself, take pictures of your freight before it is picked up proving all is well. Collect invoices, product descriptions, and item counts so that you have a leg to stand on in the case of any loss or shortage.
Secondly, the shipper must prove that the load was delivered in damaged condition. Complete a thorough inspection before you sign and again, take pictures of everything for proof. Concealed damage, hidden and only discovered after the carrier has left, is a tricky area for claims. Open and dismantle your packaging at delivery to check for issues, and don't feel bad for delaying a driver. If there is any doubt at all, make a note on the delivery receipt. If you are not present for delivery, make sure clear expectations are established with the receiver or customer so that everyone is on the same page.
Lastly, the shipper has to prove that the freight damage resulted in a specific amount of loss. It won't work to throw an arbitrary number in a freight claim, so collect itemized receipts and quotes or bills for replacement or repair costs. Be reasonable and accurate in your request.
Fair Compensation Rights for Shippers
Even if the shipper does everything right, claim payouts are rarely what one would expect. Carriers do everything in their power to minimize financial losses, so they will look at every loophole possible. So how does a carrier determine a claim payout?
The amount is typically determine by a set dollar amount per pound based on the commodity. It's important to review carrier tariffs and agreement limits before you ship your product. Some carriers will pay nothing on a used item, so be sure to review the fine print. It's also critical to have an accurate BOL. If there are incorrect details, you're likely to see that reflected in your payout. It's also important to note that a carrier claims department will examine the damage, and limit a payout if they feel the product can be salvaged or repaired at a lesser amount than what is requested.
Since carrier liability is limited, a smart shipper will obtain supplementary freight insurance. It's a super smart option for anyone shipping fragile goods or a high value commodity. While most carrier liability only pays out a certain dollar amount per pound of freight, freight insurance can be purchased in the value of coverage you need, and you are not required to prove the carrier is at fault.
It's important to note carrier compensation timelines for payouts. A carrier should acknowledge receipt of the claim within 30 days, with a ruling completed within 120 days. In the event of a denied claim ruling, the shipper has a right to file a lawsuit. Most need to be filed within 2 years and one day, but there are exceptions so it's best to work quickly.
Shipper's Requirements for Proper Claim Filing
It's up to the shipper to follow a precise protocol in filing a claim to increase their chances of a suitable resolution. Collecting as much hard evidence as possible will help your case. Seeking written statements by warehouse receivers and testimonies of loading procedures, as well as video evidence can assist your cause. Being thorough is crucial but working quickly is just as important, so be mindful of deadlines. You have nine months from the delivery date to file, but for those concealed damage cases, you have five days—so get on it.
Documentation you may need to file:
- Proof of delivery
- Original BOL
- Freight bill
- Merchandise invoice
- Replacement invoice or repair bill
- Pictures of damaged freight
Knowing the basics of the Carmack Amendment and how they relate to shipper's rights helps protect your business in the event of damaged or lost freight. the best part is, you don't have to go through the claims process alone. Working with PartnerShip can ensure you have an informed ally looking out for your best interests and your company's bottom line. For a thorough rundown on freight claims, download our free white paper.
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Freight Insurance: Is It Right For Your Business?
06/13/2018 — Jen Deming
Let's face it: ship happens. Even though many shippers prepare for the worst and do their very best to protect their freight, loss and damage are an unfortunate reality of the business. Freight insurance is a vital tool that business owners can use to offset the costs of freight damage and limited carrier liability. Unfortunately for many shippers, freight insurance coverage can be complicated to understand and is often misunderstood. How do you know if you should be using freight insurance?
First and foremost, it is important to understand the difference between freight insurance and carrier liability. Carrier liability is an industry term used to describe the responsibility of the carrier as it relates to losses, damages, and delivery delays to compensate the shipper. Of course, exceptions are put in place by the carrier, such as whether the damage or loss is a result from the action of a shipper (ex. improper packaging), an act of God, public authority, or due to the inherent nature of the goods.
It is the responsibility of the shipper to prove that the damage or loss of their shipment is a direct result of the carrier's own negligence. To accomplish this, it is important to take pictures of your packaged freight before the pick-up is completed, and inspected thoroughly once it is delivered. Any damage or loss MUST be noted on the delivery receipt. If your shipment does not encounter any issues, it is important to properly follow the claim filing process within 9 months of the delivery date. You have even less time with a concealed claim. At 5 days max, it is extra crucial to get the process moving along promptly.
But here's the thing about carrier liability: even if you can win a claim against the carrier, the payout often doesn't cover the total cost or value of your freight shipment. Every carrier has an established payout amount, usually per pound and depending on the fright class and limit of liability. Additionally, there are many exceptions and limitations as well as restricted types of freight that are compensated for even less, such as some electronics, artwork, and furniture types. The good news? Freight insurance does not require the shipper to prove that the carrier was at fault for the damage or loss, simply that the damage occurred. It's a great way to protect you and your customers and to be sure your shipment can be covered for its full value. Freight insurance is often offered by third-party insurers at a fee on top of your carrier rate for transit. So how do you know if it's worth the extra cost?
If you are shipping products that are fragile and may break easily, it's a good idea to seek out additional freight coverage. Most carriers have their best interest in mind, and only offer limited coverage on these types of shipments, knowing there is a higher potential that they may break in transit. So if there is damage, it's unlikely you will get the full value of what has been lost. Proper packaging can help mitigate the likeliness that damage may occur, but the loading and unloading process doesn't always go as planned. Damage can occur at pick-up and destination delivery, as well as the many times your freight may be loaded at various terminals throughout transit. There are carriers who specialize in the transport of fragile shipments, commonly referred to as white glove service providers, but this alternative can be costly and still may have limited coverage. Freight coverage purchased through an insurance provider is typically based on the declared value of your freight and can help give shippers peace of mind.
High Value Freight
Similar to those who ship fragile products, businesses who are transporting high-value goods need to be mindful of how much coverage they receive through limited carrier liability. Just because your shipment isn't particularly breakable, doesn't mean your freight is protected in the event that it can go missing or may be delayed. While unlikely, it's always a good idea to have a plan that will cover your back, and your bottom line. Carriers typically pay out by the pound. For example, it's not uncommon to see a pay out of $0.25 per lb or even less on restricted items for less-than-truckload, with a max cap of $100,000 per truckload. With many types of freight insurance coverage through different providers, the total value of the shipment is covered, despite whether the carrier accepts responsibility or not. Of course, it's always crucial that shippers are diligent and fully understand the terms of their third-party insurance coverage, no matter which provider they go with.
Another important consideration for businesses concerns their supply order or inbound shipments. Typically, a vendor will determine this portion of the shipping process- choosing carrier, service type, and rate. Taking control of your inbound shipping is crucial, both in reducing costs and selecting the carrier that best suits your needs. But, apart from that, how can you better protect your inbound shipments against damage during transit, especially when as the receiver, you aren't even there to check on proper packaging and material handling? Enrolling in an inbound freight insurance coverage plan can help mitigate the cost of damage and help business owners take back control on their inbound freight.
It's safe to say that if you are shipping high value freight, fragile products, or receive inbound shipments, it is crucial to take a look at supplemental freight insurance options. At PartnerShip, we want to offer better coverage than the typical limited liability offered by the carrier because "one size fits all" just doesn't cut it. The shipping experts at PartnerShip can help you decrease your risk and increase your peace of mind. Contact us at 800-599-2902 or email sales@PartnerShip.com for more information about freight insurance, or get a quote today.
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Your Guide to Proper Packaging
05/30/2018 — Leah PalnikProper packaging is a critical step in the shipping process. Just one mistake can expose your shipment to costly and time-consuming damages. Not only do you need to use quality materials, but you also need to package your products in a way that will increase strength and durability. Packaging is not a one-size-fits-all game, but it does start with some basic best practices.
Small Package Shipments
When picking a box for your products, you want one that is in good condition (no holes, rips, or dents) and is sized just right. There should be just enough space for the needed cushioning and no more. If you use a box that is excessively large you run the risk of being charged according to your dimensional (DIM) weight, which can get quite pricey.
How you cushion your contents will depend on the product you’re shipping. In general, you can protect the contents of your package with bubble wrap, foam cushioning, paper pad, or packing peanuts. This will help to prevent damages caused by movement and vibration that occur during transit.
Then it’s time to seal and label your package. Use packing tape rather than duct tape or masking tape, and seal your box using the H taping method. Remove any old labels from the box and place your label on the largest surface. Labeling is an important step for proper packaging, because it helps get your shipment to the right place without any unnecessary delays.
When deciding how to package your freight, consider the size and weight of your shipment and how it will be handled. What kind of protection will it need? Will it be on a dedicated truck or will it be moved on multiple vehicles?
Palletizing your freight will give it a solid base and will make movement on and off the truck easy and safe, making it a good choice for many different types of loads. Wooden pallets are the most common, and are typically recommended by carriers like FedEx and UPS Freight. However, you may consider metal, plastic, or corrugated pallets depending on what you’re shipping.
For the cartons on your pallets, make sure the contents inside are packaged properly with the needed impact protection and each carton is labeled with the shipper and consignee information. While stacking, you need to consider how it will affect the strength of your shipment. Start by placing heavier cartons on the bottom with lighter boxes at the top, and distribute the weight evenly. Use an aligned, column pattern while stacking and make sure there is no overhang.
Once your pallet is stacked, you’ll want to secure it with stretch-wrap and banding. The stretch-wrap should go around the cartons several times and be twisted every other rotation for increased durability. For banding, use sturdy steel, rayon, polypropylene, nylon, or polyester straps.
You may also want to consider crating if you’re shipping fragile freight. First, select a crate that is constructed from quality lumber. Most carriers will recommend plywood rather than oriented strand board (OSB), medium-density fiberboard (MDF), or particleboard. You also want to make sure your crate is sized appropriately, with excess space kept to a minimum.
Proper Packaging Is Key
Avoiding damaged freight and a claims nightmare starts with proper packaging. Along the way, you’ll also save yourself from costly DIM weight charges and increase the durability of your shipments. The time you spend up front to make sure you have proper packaging will be well worth it. Get in-depth instructions by downloading our free white paper – The Ultimate Guide to Packaging Your Shipments!
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Potential Shipping Issues: How to Be Proactive
04/25/2018 — Leah Palnik
When you deal with freight, there will always be some shipping issues that are out of your control. You can’t stay with your freight throughout its whole journey, and there are a number of sticky situations you might find yourself in. However, if you know how to prepare for some worst case scenarios, you can position yourself to bounce back quickly.
One of the most common disruptions that can cause shipping issues is the weather. Storms and other severe weather patterns can have a significant impact on a carrier’s delivery network. When one area is hit, it creates a ripple effect that’s felt all over. Especially during hurricane season and the winter months, it’s important to keep an eye out. However, even in milder months, you can’t let your guard down because Mother Nature can be unpredictable.
If possible, give yourself a buffer zone for transit time. Build in extra days, especially for time-sensitive shipments. That way, if a storm hits and your shipment gets delayed, you’ll still be in the clear. It’s also a good idea to work with a broker to gain access to additional resources in a pinch. You’ll be able to expand your carrier network and lean on them when capacity is tight.
Criminals targeting your freight are getting savvier and are constantly finding new ways to hit shippers. Dealing with cargo theft is a nightmare, and it can happen to anyone. Especially if you’re shipping electronics, raw metal materials, food items, pharmaceuticals, or other highly targeted commodities. Thieves are not only surveying ship yards for arrival and departure changes, but are also engaging in sophisticated scams. Some are posing as transportation companies, using counterfeit documents, or working an inside job.
To be proactive against cargo theft and the shipping issues that go with it, there are a few simple things you can do. Ensure your driver is using a locking system that includes a variety of locks, from king pin locks, air brake valve locks, and glad hand locks. Using GPS tracking is also a good tactic to keep an eye on your freight and make sure it’s where it’s supposed to be. Overall, it’s important to carefully select transportation providers and warehouse staff.
Every time you turn on the news it seems like there’s a new cybersecurity issue. Unfortunately, the shipping industry isn’t immune. The technology that is on trucks nowadays can leave them vulnerable to ransomware and malware that could shut down the vehicles and put your freight at risk. Cyber attackers could potentially be targeting your freight for theft or could be looking to shut down a carrier’s service in hopes of securing a ransom.
The risk of a cyber attack affecting your freight right now is slim, but cybersecurity issues are becoming increasingly prevalent across all industries. While prevention is more in the hands of your carrier for cyber attacks on trucks, staying educated and planning ahead is key. Create a plan that details what you would do in the event your freight gets caught up in the middle of a cyber attack. That way the contingency protocol is clear and you’ll have resources readily available.
Dealing with damaged freight involves a lot of heartache. Not only are you out your product, but you also have to deal with the nightmare that is the claims process. You may experience damages that are visible upon delivery or damages that are concealed, meaning they aren’t discovered until after delivery. Luckily, as far as shipping issues go, this is one you have some element of control over.
Preventing freight damage starts with proper packaging. If you’re the shipper, don’t be afraid to spend a little extra cash upfront to ensure you’re not spending more after the fact. Be conscious of the weight capacity of your chosen container and invest in quality materials. Then choose packaging that is sized right – with just enough room for the contents and the necessary impact protection. If you’re palletizing your shipment, make sure your items sit squarely on the skid with no overhang. Weight should be evenly distributed with heavier boxes on the bottom, and everything should be completely secured to the skid with banding, stretch-wrap, or breakaway adhesive.
If you are receiving the shipment, make sure you’re following the proper procedures for accepting freight. Inspect your freight immediately and notate any damages on the delivery receipt. File your claim as soon as possible and make sure you have all the necessary documentation. Any small misstep can lead to your claim being denied, so it’s critical that you’re thorough.
Some shipping issues will be beyond your control, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck. By educating yourself and being prepared, you can mitigate the impact. The shipping experts at PartnerShip have seen it all, and we’ll help you navigate through the toughest issues. Want to learn more about how to tackle freight challenges? Check out our latest white paper!
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4 Freight Challenges That Will Actually Better Your Business
03/27/2018 — Jen DemingThere are many stressful parts of freight shipping, and for businesses shipping regularly, it can seem the challenges are never-ending. From shipment delays to damaged freight, it can seem there is a definite lack of control once your pallet leaves your dock or doorstep. Informed shippers can turn these frustrating obstacles into positive opportunities to take back control of your shipping processes, and better your business in the long run.
-Late freight is a very common issue for shippers, and one that can often affect the relationship between your business and your customer. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest challenges to avoid, and it all boils down to transparent communication between you and your chosen carrier. It may appear that you are at the mercy of your vendors with regard to your inbound shipping orders for supplies and raw materials, but you don't have to be. Setting up routing instructions with specific requirements and chosen carrier preferences is something you can and SHOULD discuss with your vendors, that way your needs are met and you can rest easy. Most carriers offer online tracking services through their company websites, and you can always stay informed by setting up alerts and notifications by either text or email, so you can stay informed about the transit status of your freight. Selecting the appropriate service type is another way to avoid late freight. Different service levels are often determined by transit timelines. Time-critical and expedited shipping options can help get your shipment where it needs to, at an accelerated rate. Another way to avoid delivery delays is to be sure you are familiar with your shipping locations. If there a short window for dock hours, or pick-up/delivery appointments are required, and you don't make the carrier aware when scheduling the shipment, you can bet on a missed or delayed delivery.
-Damaged or lost freight is every freight shipper's worst nightmare. Accidents happen, and every freight shipper will most likely experience damage to their product, especially as volume and frequency increases. If you are seeing repeated incidents, or a frequent occurrence, it's possible that there may be an underlying issue--improper packaging. Even minor adjustments can make all the difference in a long transit where shipments are being loaded and unloaded at several terminals and different trucks.
-In the unfortunate event that your shipment is damaged, the last thing you want to worry about is compensation for that loss in order to repair or send a replacement product. In order to receive compensation from a carrier, it is necessary to prove that they were at fault or negligent. It's crucial to take as many pictures as possible to prove the product was in good condition prior to pick-up. Even if you are able to win the claim after filing, oftentimes the payout leaves a little to be desired. The amount of coverage is often paid out at a fixed dollar amount determined by commodity and class, and there are endless rules and exceptions. The headache can be avoided if the shipper is proactive and obtains supplemental cargo insurance to cover the cost of the load. Many providers do not require the carrier is proven negligent and shippers can avoid carrier tariff loopholes such as restricted freight classes.
-It's a tough time for shippers. With the ELD mandate deadline behind us, many carriers still do not meet minimum requirements, thereby restricting the number of available carriers on the road. With truck drivers unwilling to risk the run as law enforcement officials crack down on non-compliant carriers, an already limited truck capacity is tightened further. Carriers that DO happen to have available trucks are asking a premium, and with options limited, they will get it. Shippers need to take control and shop rates among carriers, but that takes time, patience, and industry knowledge--and that's where working with a 3PL can come in handy.
There seems to be no end when it comes to obstacles that shippers encounter. Getting your shipments delivered on time, safely, and smoothly seems like a no-brainer, but once that pallet has left your dock, control is pretty much out of your hands. But it doesn't have to be. A quality 3PL provider can serve as an extra set (or two!) to make sure you are shipping smart and staying competitive. The team of experts at PartnerShip have taken a look at the most common problems shippers experience and how they can actually BETTER your business. Download our free white paper today!
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Everything You Need to Know About Freight Claims
08/25/2017 — Leah Palnik
Damaged freight is every shipper’s worst nightmare. To make it worse, filing freight claims is a complex and frustrating process. There is a lot you need to know about what to document, what to file, and what the Carmack Amendment covers. Before you find yourself in this mess, it’s best to learn some of the basics.
First, damaged freight isn’t the only type of freight claim you may encounter. You may also experience a shortage or a lost shipment all together. And then there’s the concealed claims – when the cargo damage or shortage is discovered after delivery and reported after the driver leaves. As you can imagine, there can be extra hoops to jump through in these situations.
Before you can understand what to do in the case you need to file a cargo claim, you need to understand the Carmack Amendment. This law addresses the issue of liability between shippers and carriers. Under this law, you have to establish that the goods in question were picked up in good condition, delivered in damaged condition, and resulted in a specific amount of damage.
Once you’re able to prove that these requirements were met, the carrier is held liable unless it proves that it was not negligent and the cause of cargo damage was one of the following:
- Act of God
- Public enemy
- Act of default of shipper
- Public authority
- The inherent vice or nature of the goods
If you have to file a claim, it’s best to do it as soon as possible. You typically will have 9 months from the delivery date, or only 5 days in the case of a concealed claim. You’ll want to have the Proof of Delivery (POD), the original Bill of Lading (BOL), freight bill, merchandise invoice, and replacement invoice or repair bill to support your claim. Taking pictures to include is also very helpful.
Unfortunately there are several issues that could cause your cargo claim to be denied. If you want to secure a fair resolution, make sure your documentation is accurate, your claim includes specific details, and you have proof that you attempted to mitigate the damage.
The subject of freight claims is complicated, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. PartnerShip has developed a helpful white paper that details everything you need to know about filing a freight claim. It also provides you with important information that will teach you how to package your shipments to avoid damaged freight, how to set procedures for accepting freight that protects you in the event you need to file a claim, and how to ensure your claim doesn’t get denied.
Download the free white paper: Everything You Need to Know About Freight Claims!
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3 Useful Tips to Help Reduce Your Freight Claims
07/28/2017 — Jen Deming
“Damage” and “Claims” are four letter words in the world of freight shipping, and can be a real headache to logistics managers and coordinators alike. On both the outbound and receiving end, there are several ways you can reduce these risks and help keep freight damage to a minimum.
Proper packaging for your freight shipment is key, whether you are shipping boxed items or palletized loads, and one of the most avoidable mistakes contributing to damage claims is insufficient preparation and packaging. These materials cost typically less than an approximated 10% of overall shipping expenditures, so it doesn’t pay to cut corners in the short run when you are essentially increasing your risk overall. Containers and boxes should be in good, solid condition and sized to allow for just enough room to provide proper cushioning around your product. Use foam sheets, bubble wrapping, and cardboard inserts within the container, and wrap each item separately to maximize security.
To avoid freight damage, palletized shipments need to be secure as well, with items stacked uniformly and evenly distributed. Try to avoid product overhang on the edge of the pallets and anchor stacked boxes or multiple products into place with shrink wrap, plastic banding, or a breakaway adhesive. Being thorough and adhering to these standards can help limit the risk of damage.
Labeling and Paperwork
Precise shipment labeling also helps limit freight claims and losses by listing correct contact details, product descriptions, and ensuring accurate transit and delivery. To be sure that these instructions are clear, remove or completely cover old labels. Place the label on the top of the container or make it clearly visible on the side of each individual pallet, and include the total pallet count. For added safety, place a copy of the address label inside the container should the original be removed during transit.
A properly completed Bill of Lading (BOL) must be included with your shipment and serves three essential functions: a receipt for the goods being shipped, a document of titles, and evidence as the contract between the carrier and the shipper. Be sure to precisely class your shipment, include product description and item count, as well as list your billing party. If the event that you do receive damaged boxes and product, it is important to inspect and note details of the freight damage on the delivery receipt before signing for receipt of your freight. All of these details are essential should your shipment encounter any bumps in the road and you do need to file a freight claim with a carrier.
Choose the Correct Service
Knowing which particular type of freight shipping service best suits your shipment type can also help reduce damage and claims. Keep in mind, that standard Less-Than-Truckload shipments are loaded and unloaded several times at various carrier terminals as they make their way from your origin to its final destination. With each additional stop, your risk for freight damage increases. If the security of your shipment is a special concern, it may be worthwhile to consider moving your larger, multiple pallet loads with a dedicated or partially dedicated truckload service. With no extra stops, your freight does not need to be moved on and off the truck and remains significantly more secure with a quicker transit time, speeding up the delivery of your product.
These suggestions are just a few ways you can be vigilant about protecting your freight shipments against damage and claims. While there’s no sure fire way to avoid these occurrences completely, PartnerShip can help you measure your shipping options and determine the best ways to help protect your freight. Contact us at 800-599-2902 or get a quote now!
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