What to Do if Your Truck’s Cargo is Damaged or Lost

What to Do if Your Truck’s Cargo is Damaged or Lost

No matter what is being transported, one common problem can occur: the freight can become lost or damaged. The process for finding out who is responsible for damaged freight could take months, and discovering whether freight had been stolen or lost en route can be difficult.

Shippers will never be able to prevent all instances of lost or stolen cargo but can ensure they’re compensated for their loss and informed on the details to try and prevent future instances. 

Triple Check 

Never sign the Bill of Lading before checking your load for damage, concealed damage or missing parts. Take a close look at delivered freight and inspect all details. Pay attention to every part or item; open crates if needed – there could be concealed damages. Determine what exactly is stolen, missing or damaged. Don’t be intimidated by the driver, who can claim they’re in a hurry for the next route – you have a right to record all details necessary.


Write everything down and take photos, if possible. The more documentation, the better. Make notes of damages and shortages on the Bill of Lading and make sure the carrier is aware of the situation as soon as possible. Communication and cooperation are crucial as carriers can try to salvage, redeliver, or return the freight if damage or shortage statement was passed on quickly enough.

Make a Claim 

Fill out the proper freight claim, shipping claim, cargo claim or transportation claim paperwork. It is a legal request to a carrier for financial reimbursement on damaged or lost freight. The freight claim is created to recover costs for the shipper, but not the profit, only the difference between the original value and the damaged value. So, the shipper must determine a reasonable dollar amount for the claim – it is the shipper’s legal obligation to minimize the cost of the claim.

The carrier must acknowledge a claim within 30 days of initial filling. Concealed damages and shortages should be reported to the carrier within 10-15 days of receipt of the load.

Other Considerations

Never refuse a shipment or discard damaged freight. If shippers discard freight, they may not be paid the full freight claim amount. So keep all freight and packages intact if possible.

Pay the freight bill as soon as possible. The shipper is still responsible for the payment of goods’ transportation, even if there are damaged, lost or stolen freight. The claim will be processed by your truck cargo insurance agent.

While it seems quite fair to get compensation for damaged or lost freight, it is more important to gather as much information and evidence as possible to avoid further improper load handling. 

Keep all necessary documents:

  • Copy of the bill of lading
  • Copy of the freight bill (paid)
  • Copy of the invoice showing the amount paid for the goods
  • Copy of the packing slip
  • Standard claim form or a letter identifying the shipment and the claim amount
  • Photos of the damage

Contact your truck cargo insurance agent for assistance. Having an expert who can manage all of a shipper’s claims and paperwork is a great option to save money, time and peace-of-mind. 

About Tobico Trucking Insurance

Trucking insurance is one of the most difficult types of insurance to obtain, but it doesn’t have to be. At Tobico Trucking Insurance, we are experienced and knowledgable about the trucking insurance market and the needs of trucking operations of all types and sizes. You need an agent who has the specialized knowledge of this ever-changing industry, and we have the products and the dedicated customer service to provide you with what you need. For more information, contact us any time of day at (469) 731-0707 to find out how we can help you.