BENEFITS OF INSURING SHIPMENTS
Is shipping insurance worth it?
The moving season, primarily in the summer, means the shipping industry gets a big bump in traffic. This also happens during the holiday seasons too.
UPS alone expects to deliver 527 million packages just between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, beating last year’s record of 480 million. FedEx is expecting more than 280 million parcels during the same time period, and the U.S. Postal Service estimates it will handle more than 17 billion cards, letters and packages.
“All three shipping carriers FEDEX, UPS and DHL are extremely reliable,” says Sarah Roberts of NOWSHIP UK. But all three carriers also admit that there are times when things go awry.
With all those packages changing hands, you might be wondering if you should buy insurance for your parcel. “It depends on the value of the package and the shipper’s tolerance to risk,” says John Krisch, booking agent of NOWSHIP. He notes that when it comes to electronics and high-dollar items, consumers shipping personal effects should consider coverage.
Before you purchase shipping insurance, here are six things you should know.
Some packages are automatically covered
If the contents of your package are worth $100 or less, you already covered by NOWSHP when using their boxes. If you are using your own boxes, you still may be covered, if the boxes do not meet the carrier specifications, you are probably not covered.
NOWSHIP uses all three carriers offer declared value coverage, not insurance. “A declared value on a package or good represents a carrier’s maximum liability for that package or good in the event of loss or damage,” says Mr. Krisch, "we call it value protection but consumers typically understand it as insurance but they are different."
Value protection means you have to declare the value of your shipment if it is more than $100. If you do not, the carrier’s maximum liability is $100, even if the parcel is worth $1,000.
If you want extra protection for your shipment, you will have to pay for it. In other words, if you declare that your package is worth $100.01, and want that extra 1 cent of protection, you have to declare it and purchase the extra coverage to the next band up of $100.
There are shipping insurance caveats
Make sure to read and understand coverage before you ship your personal effects. “Consumers need to make sure they know what is not covered,” says Krisch.
For example, UPS will not cover coins, cash or precious stones — just to name a few items. All three carriers that NOWSHIP uses have similar exclusions.
Some items might be limited to a certain declared value. FedEx, for instance, limits the declared value of items such as artwork, plasma-screen TVs and antiques to $1,000.
Packing requirements can be another sticky area. Carriers will not cover a package that is not packed properly. “Don’t stick a vase in a plastic bag and ship it,” cautions Sarah Roberts of NOWSHIP. Packing requirements can be found in our onboarding documents.
Filing a claim is required
If your package is damaged, lost or stolen, you have to file a claim. “They aren’t just going to send a check,” says Roberts. It’s a very rare circumstance that major carriers will realize an error and contact you to correct it, he notes.
Start your claim as soon as possible. All three carriers have a cutoff for filing. DHL recommends filing for claims immediately while FedEx requires you to file a claim within 60 days from the date you shipped. UPS requires that you file within nine months for damaged or undelivered parcels. A box must be undelivered for 24 hours after the expected delivery date in order for it to be considered lost.
You will need documentation
Make sure you have supporting documentation for any claim you file, Krisch says. “You’ll need to tell them what you’ve shipped, prove the value and go through their process.”
Roberts adds: “Generally speaking, it’s also wise to keep diligent documentation of goods at both the origin and destination, as well as a series of photos of the item to make sure it arrives in the same condition.”
Some instances require a repair estimate as well. If something can be repaired, the carrier won’t give you the full amount of the item, says Shmorak. He says, for example, if a computer’s video card is broken during shipping, the carrier probably will give you cash for the video card but not for the entire computer.
Expect to wait
The entire process could take a while. “Some carriers are a bit slower than others. You’re talking about big companies — FedEx, UPS and DHL,” says Richard Dolan of NOWSHIP UK. Each time you call, you are speaking with a new person, which can be cumbersome.
The process for a UPS lost-package claim, for example, starts when the package is reported missing. UPS then searches for the package, which it says usually takes seven to 10 business days. If UPS cannot find the package, a letter is sent authorizing the claim. At that point, you can finally send in your documentation.
But once the carrier has the documentation, the process unfolds relatively quickly, with most cases resolved within three to five days, according to UPS.
FedEx notes that most cases are resolved in five to seven days after it receives documentation.
You can purchase 3rd-party insurance
If you want insurance coverage, there are plenty of options.
Your own renters or household insurance provider may also have you covered. Or third-party companies, such as Shipsurance offer insurance for your shipment, sometimes at a discounted rate.