It is nothing but natural to feel uneasy whenever we hear the word damaged. May it be a single little item you purchase on the internet or your container as an importer and exporter you want it to reach its destination safe and sound. As a freight forwarder let me assure you that we want your cargo to be delivered without any damage as much as you do . However when it is inevitable, we must know the steps to be taken afterwards. Although the importance of it is not quite realized at the time of the shipment, Incoterms is the first thing shippers and consignees must look at once the news of damage comes up.
We covered the topic of Incoterms in previous articles, however needless to say, responsibility of the parties are determined depending on the term of the shipment. Also as your freight forwarder we strongly recommend to purchase cargo insurance which must be completed before the shipment is loaded since the insurance coverage provided may not cover the damage occurred, the covered declaration can be found at the back of each Bill of Lading.We strongly suggest stating the incoterm on the BOL, commercial invoice and the packing list. Once you realized that the goods received are damaged, we recommend postponing the unloading of the container until a surveyor is sent to the site to inspect the damage.
Of course each case would require a different action; however the very first thing would be looked at, is the way the container loaded, and the way the materials are packed. An improper packing or loading that would cause the goods move in the container will drive the conclusion as negative for the shipper’s side. May the damage occurred at the loading port, transfer port or upon arrival, the very first important step is to file a preliminary claim. As your freight forwarder we urge you to notify us as soon as you decide a claim is necessary and we will start to take action as a bridge between you and the carrier. Following your preliminary claim supported with pictures and brief information of the cargo’s situation a formal claim must follow which states the amount of the claim with detailed breakdown of the charges. Formal claim must include the Commercial invoice and packing list and besides any other documents that is necessary such as an invoice of destruction.
Once again depending on the case if a survey report has been prepared, it must be accompanying the documents.
We remind you that it is responsibility of the cargo interest to provide sufficient evidence stating carrier’s liability for the damages and to mitigate the damages or loss incurred. In order to prove mitigation of the loss, the claimant has to show that the goods have been either disposed of or sold at lower price. Carrier may not send a surveyor to inspect the damage and the possible causes for each and every claim, so in any case if carrier decides not to send a surveyor, it is important for the importer to take as much as pictures of the container and the goods and then start unloading. Although it is the wish and the intention to finalize a claim as quick as possible, it may take up to 6 months or even more. As your freight forwarder we make sure to follow every step of the claim procedure and guide you and the carrier when necessary.