Oh No! What to Do When Your Cargo is Damaged

Packing is a really important part of the shipping process.  The way cargo is loaded onto a vessel can greatly determine the condition of the cargo once it is received.  No one wants that sinking feeling of receiving a shipment from abroad only to open the container and find the goods inside damaged in some way.  Still, even with the best of packing care, it’s possible that your cargo will be damaged in some way at some point in time, despite your best intentions.  What should you do if you discover damaged cargo?
First, understand what “damage” might actually be.  Obviously, if you open up the container and see damage, that is a sign.  But damage can also include spotting a damaged container or if the container seal is broken when you receive it.  In any of these scenarios, the first thing you should do is immediately call the insurance company.  Then contact the shipping line.
Don’t start unpacking the cargo without the shipping line representative – or any other representative – being present.  This is a critical part of the process in orer to prove that the items inside the containers were properly inspected by all parties and the damage is noted by everyone. If you don’t take this step, your claims may have a much more difficult time getting approved and reimbursed.
Once the insurance company is contacted, expect that the shipping line will probably dispute your claim.  After all, the packing usually falls under the shipper’s responsibility, while the handling of the cargo is the shipping line’s responsibility.  Certain kinds of damage (like water damage) change this responsibility somewhat, but don’t be dismayed if the shipping line’s first reaction is “Not our fault.”
Working with a shipping and logistical expert enables you to work through any possible insurance claim much faster than doing it on your own.