Having spent 25 years in the household moving and high-value electronic hauling segment of the industry, where claims are a major cost concern, I could easily write a book on the ways to reduce claims. The ways reside in how the freight is handled, how you manage the claims process, and how you treat a customer. The objective is to reduce costs and maintain a quality relationship with the shipper and receiver.

My experience tells me it's all in the details — from the point of pickup to the point of delivery. It involves chain of custody, with a detailed inventory and exceptions by each person in the custody chain. It's how you handle and deal with any claim presented and how a shipper or receiver perceives the carrier's attitude.

One of the most important ways to reduce the sting of a freight claim is the communication between carrier and customer. It's not just the way it is approached, but also how quickly the damage is brought to the customer's attention. The longer the period between when a carrier becomes aware that damage has occurred to when a customer is notified, the greater the likelihood the cost of the claim will increase.

Nobody likes to make a mistake, and when one does, the first inclination is to try and hide it. How freight is handled in loading and unloading, or the manner in which it is secured in the trailer, will invariably determine whether it will arrive at the receiver's dock unscathed. But as we all know, things happen. And when they do, the way you and your driver respond will make a significant difference in the resulting cost of the claim.

What I've learned from my years of handling household goods and big-ticket shipments (both of which are highly susceptible to in-transit damage) is that communication is the best policy. Immediately communicate what damage has occurred and begin the claim-resolution process as quickly as possible. Doing so gives the shipper and receiver the knowledge that you are truly concerned about their product and their business. From this perspective, the value of customer service is beyond measure. Many times, immediate notification and quick resolution reduces the cost of the claim in several ways:

  • The customer is less likely to push for greater dollar compensation because you have been honest and have shown an interest in his or her business.

  • The quicker the resolution, the lower the overall administrative costs of a claim.

  • The time saved in going back and forth in reaching a resolution is time that can be devoted to creating additional revenue-producing loads.

When the carrier is the one discovering and presenting the damage, it helps to eliminate claims. If the customer knows you're looking out for his best interest, he's less critical, tending to leave the picky claims on the dock.

Contact Tim Brady at 731-749-8567 or at www.timothybrady.com