What You Should Know About Loss and Damage Claims

What You Should Know

Cargo Loss and Damage Claims

Shipper Responsibilities
Consignee Responsibilities
Loss & Damage Claim Filing Requirements
Our Handling of Your Claim
Checking Claim Status

National Motor Freight Classification
Priciples and Practices for the Investigation And Disposition of Freight Claims
Regulations Governing the Inspection of Freight before or after Delivery to Consignee and Adjustment of Claims for Loss or Damage


In the following sections, you will find information about:

If you need more information concerning a specific claim prevention or administration problem, please contact your Holland account executive or service center office.


Shipper Responsibilities

Many variables can affect your shipment during transportation:

To prevent loss and damage, all these variables must be considered when a product, its packaging and its package markings are designed.

As the shipper, you are responsible for

You must follow all existing tariff and shipping regulations related to your product. These publications outline minimum packaging requirements:

Item 580 in the National Motor Freight Classification provides the general rules for the properly marking, labeling, and tagging shipments. Item 680 in the same document contains the rules for packing and packaging. These two items do not apply if your product is regulated by Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Regulations.

If you have a packaging problem, notify your Holland sales representative. He or she has experts available to assist you.

You are a valued customer. By combining your manufacturing and packaging expertise with our experience in motor transportation, we can develop a program to correct or prevent loss and/or damage problems.


Consignee Responsibilities

As a consignee, you must identify and document loss and/or damage carefully.

There are two types of loss or damage:


Visible or Noted Loss or Damage

Visible loss or damage means that the loss or damage was apparent at the time of delivery. Noted means that a detailed description of the loss or damage was recorded on the Holland delivery receipt at delivery. At delivery, you must

Note: Courts have generally ruled that a consignee may not open the containers and examine the merchandise before giving a receipt to the carrier unless the containers indicate the probability of damage.

If you discover damage after delivery and the delivery receipt has a vague notation or no notation, you may find it more difficult to obtain prompt and satisfactory settlement of your claim.



At delivery, you must

If possible, record when you receive a large number of items or the shipment comprises a number of different items.

Keep the shipment together until unloading is completed in case you need a recount.

If there is a shortage, describe it in exact terms on the Holland and your copies of the delivery receipt before signing for the shipment.


Mitigation of Loss

You cannot refuse to accept a shipment just because it is damaged or partially short. When practical, the shipment should be accepted, and all steps should be taken to minimize the loss. Then, you may file a claim for depreciation, repair costs or replacement of shortages.


Concealed Loss or Damage

Concealed loss or damage means that the loss or damage was not noticeable at delivery. The National Motor Freight Classification lists consignee and carrier obligations related to determining liability (see pp. 11-14).


Reporting Concealed Loss or Damage

If you discover concealed loss or damage after you have given Holland a clear delivery receipt, you must:


Holland Inspection

Holland must inspect the shipment within five working days and give you a copy of the Inspection Report (ISC-219) for claim support.

Include a copy of the Inspection Report when you file your claim.


Failure to Inspect

If Holland doesn't inspect the shipment:


Burden of Proof

In a concealed damage claim, you have the burden of proof. You must prove that Holland caused the damage, not other parties who handled the goods.


Additional Factors in a Concealed Damage Claim

We also consider these factors in a concealed damage claim:



Legally, as the owner of the goods, you must do what you can to keep the loss to a minimum. You can reduce the loss by keeping damaged freight for a discounted price or having the goods repaired. Reducing the loss will expedite settlement of your claim.

If the goods are a total loss to you, call the delivering Holland service center for disposition or assistance. Any salvage must be retained for Holland disposition until after the claim is settled.


Loss and Damage Claim Filing Requirements

Holland realizes that a lost or damaged shipment causes inconvenience to you and your customers. We will make every attempt to settle your claim promptly and efficiently. You can help by meeting the following requirements.

Time Limits

The bill of lading contract specifies that we must receive the claim within nine months of delivery or, in the case of nondelivery, within nine months after a reasonable time for delivery has elapsed.

Shipments originating in Canada are subject to these Canadian Bill of Lading Contract Terms and Conditions:

Filing the Claim

Only the shipper, the consignee, or a third party who has claim or title to the goods may file a claim.

You must file your claim with the origin or destination carrier or with the carrier on whose line the loss or damage occurred, if known.

If you cannot file your claim online, fax or mail it to:

Cargo Claims
700 S. Waverly
Holland, MI 49423
Fax: 913-982-0280

Note: If you fax your claim, please do not send a duplicate in U.S. Mail.

Documentation Requirements

You must provide:

The following documents by themselves are insufficient to file a claim:


Our Handling of Your Claim

After we have received your claim with the proper documentation, we will acknowledge its receipt and attempt to settle it within 30 days.

Investigating some claims may take longer. If your claim cannot be settled within 120 days, Holland will notify you immediately about what you need to do to conclude your claim. Holland will continue to keep you informed at 60-day intervals until your claim is settled.

Holland may refer your claim to other carriers if they were involved in the shipment's transport; we will notify you of this referral. It usually takes longer to investigate a connecting line claim than it does if Holland is the only carrier involved.

If a delay in settling your claim occurs, we ask your understanding. If you think the delay is excessive, feel free to call or write to us concerning the status of your claim:

Holland Cargo Claims
700 S. Waverly
Holland, MI 49423
Fax: 913-982-0280

Please include the claim number in all communications.


Checking Claim Status

U.S., Canada and Mexico customers can check the status of their claims by:


National Motor Freight Classification

Principles and Practices for the Investigation and Disposition of Freight Claims

Item Provisions named herein are not applicable on interstate or foreign commerce for account of carriers referenced with F or H (except SEAU or TOTE) shown on pages 5 through 30 of Classification or as amended.


These Rules are published in compliance with the report and order of the Interstate Commerce Commission in Ex Parte No. 263, Rules, Regulations, and Practices of Regulated Carriers with Respect to the Processing of Loss and Damage Claims, served February 24, 1972.

The purposes of these Principles and Practices are:

  1. To obtain uniformity on the part of all carriers and uniform treatment of all claimants in the disposition of claims of like nature.
  2. To secure and preserve harmonious relationships in claim matters between carriers and their patrons.
  3. To effect and maintain a prompt and efficient service to the public in connection with the investigation and disposition of freight claims.

Filing of Claims

  1. Claims filed in writing are required. A claim for loss or damage to baggage or for loss, damage, injury, or delay to cargo will not be voluntarily paid by a carrier unless filed in writing, as provided in subparagraph (b) below, with the receiving or delivering carrier, or carrier issuing the bill of lading, receipt, ticket, or baggage check, or carrier on whose line the alleged loss, damage, injury, or delay occurred, within the specified time limits applicable thereto and as otherwise may be required by law, the terms of the bill of lading or other contract of carriage, and all tariff provisions applicable thereto.
  2. Minimum filing requirements. A communication in writing from a claimant, filed with a proper carrier within the time limits specified in the bill of lading or contract of carriage or transportation, and (1) containing facts sufficient to identify the baggage or shipment (or shipments) of property involved, (2) asserting liability for alleged loss, damage, injury, or delay, and (3) making claim for the payment of a specified or determinable amount of money, will be considered as sufficient compliance with the provisions for filing claims embraced in the bill of lading or other contract of carriage.
  3. Bad order reports, appraisal report of damage, notations of exceptions on freight bills or other documents, inspection reports issued by carrier inspectors or inspection agencies, tracers or inspection requests do not comply with claim filing requirements.

Documents Required in Support of Claims

  1. A written demand for payment, asserting carrier liability for alleged loss, damage, injury or delay, and containing facts sufficient to identify the shipment or shipments involved will constitute a claim, regardless of form, and will be required.
  2. When claimant does not appear from the supporting documents to be an interested party, carrier will require any necessary written assignment or other proof to determine the claimant is the proper party to receive any claim payment.
  3. Claim must be supported by either the original invoice; a photographic copy of the original invoice; an exact copy thereof, or an extract therefrom, certified by the claimant or his authorized representative to be true and correct with respect to the property involved in the claim and reflecting all trade or other discounts, allowances, or deductions of any nature. When the original invoice is not submitted, such document must be made available for inspection by carrier representative upon request.
  4. When determined by the carrier to be a necessary part of the investigation, the following will be required:
    1. The original freight bill and bill of lading or other contract of carriage. When claimant cannot furnish these documents, carrier may require suitable indemnity from the claimant.
    2. When the property involved in the claim has not been invoiced to the consignee or where invoice does not show price or value, or where the property has not been sold but transferred at bookkeeping values only, or where property has been shipped on consignment or approval, documentation to establish destination value in the quantity shipped and certification of the correctness thereof.
    3. In order to establish the full recoverable loss caused by the carriers, the original account of sale, showing the date of sale and the amounts realized on the damaged and undamaged portions, respectively, showing grade, brands, quality, variety, size and condition, together with any deductions, allowances, and commissions, or a copy thereof certified correct over the signature of the claimant or an authorized representative thereof.
    4. When shipment has received prior transportation and is reshipped from a distribution or warehousing point but has been opened and examined and contents verified as being in undamaged condition, certification thereof must be made by a person having actual knowledge of such inspection and a statement to that effect incorporated in such certification.
    5. When an asserted claim for loss of an entire package or on an entire shipment cannot be otherwise authenticated upon investigation, the carrier will obtain from the consignee of the shipment involved, a certified statement in writing that the property for which the claim is filed has not been received from any source.

Claims Filed for Uncertain Amounts

Whenever a claim is presented against a proper carrier for an uncertain amount, such as "$100 more or less," the carrier against whom such claim is filed will determine the condition of the shipment involved at the time of delivery by it, if it was delivered, and will ascertain as nearly as possible the extent, if any, of the loss or damage for which it may be responsible. It will not, however, voluntarily pay a claim under such circumstances unless and until a formal claim in writing for a specified or determinable amount of money has been filed in accordance with the provisions of item 300105.


Acknowledgment and Disposition of Claims

Carrier will acknowledge claim in writing within 30 days after receipt thereof, informing the claimant of identifying number assigned thereto, and will pay, refuse payment, or make a firm compromise offer within 120 days after receipt of claim, except, that if claim cannot be disposed of within this period, carrier will at that time and at the end of each succeeding 60-day period thereafter while claim remains pending, inform the claimant in writing of the reason for failure to conclude claim.

A separately numbered file will be established for each claim filed in accord with the provisions of this tariff. All documents, records and correspondence pertaining to such claim will be identified with this file number.


Two or More Claims Presented on Same Shipment

When investigation of a claim develops that one or more other carriers has been presented with a similar claim on the same shipment, the carrier investigating such claim will communicate with each such other carrier and, prior to any agreement entered into between or among them as to the proper disposition of such claim or claims, will notify all claimants of the receipt of conflicting or overlapping claims and will require further substantiation, on the part of each claimant of his title to the property involved or his right with respect to such claim.


Regulations Governing the Inspection of Freight before or after Delivery to Consignee and Adjustment of Claims for Loss or Damage

Item (Provisions named herein are not applicable on interstate or foreign commerce for account of carriers referenced with F or H (except SEAU or TOTE) shown on pages 5 through 48 of Classification or as amended.)


Loss or damage to contents of package, not definitely known to exist at time of delivery by carrier to consignee may be due to negligence in packing, handling or unpacking, or abstraction from containers, and is the subject of frequent claims and controversies. In order to avoid any discrimination, and so that practices will be certain and uniform in the treatment of claims of this character, the following rules apply.



When offering a shipment for delivery, if any portion of shipment bears any indication of having been pilfered, a joint inventory of contents must be made by carrier and consignee and the results of inventory so noted on carrier's delivery receipt.


Reporting Concealed Damage

When damage to contents of a shipping container is discovered by the consignee which could not have been determined at time of delivery, it must be reported by the consignee to the delivering carrier upon discovery and a request for inspection by the carrier's representative made. Notice of loss or damage and request for inspection may be given by telephone or in person, but in either event must be confirmed in writing by mail. If more than five days pass between date of delivery of shipment by carrier and date of report of loss or damage, and request for inspection by consignee, it is incumbent upon the consignee to offer reasonable evidence to the carrier's representative when inspection is made that loss or damage was not incurred by the consignee after delivery of shipment by carrier. While awaiting inspection by carrier, the consignee must hold the shipping container and its contents in the same condition they were in when damage was discovered insofar as it is possible to do so.


Inspection by Carrier

Inspection by carrier will be made as promptly as possible and practicable after receipt of request by consignee. Inspection will be made within five normal work days after receipt of request from consignee, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. A day will be considered as the passing of twenty-four (24) hours from 9 a.m., local time from the date of receipt of request for inspection. Inspection of carrier will include examination of the damaged merchandise, the shipping container, and any other action necessary to establish all facts. If a shortage is involved, inspector will check contents of package with invoice, weigh the shipping container and contents, or conduct any other type of investigation necessary to establish that a loss has occurred. In either case inspection will be limited to factual report. Consignee must cooperate with carrier in every way possible to assist in the inspection. A written record of carrier's findings will be made at least in duplicate. The original of the report will be given the consignee for claim support. Any inspection report issued must be incorporated in claim file.


Failure to Inspect

In the event carrier does not make an inspection the consignee must make the inspection and record all information to the best of his ability pertinent to the cause. Consignee's inspection, in such case, will be considered as the carrier's inspection and will not jeopardize any recovery the consignee is due based on the facts contained in the report.


Salvage Retention

When visible or open damage to a shipment has been established by notation having been given at time of delivery or concealed damage established by inspection report, it is the duty of the consignee to retain damaged merchandise and shipping container until carrier desires to take possession of merchandise as salvage. If record conclusively reflects carrier liability, carrier will take possession of the damaged merchandise as soon as possible and in any event, within thirty (30) days from date shipment was noted damaged on carrier delivery receipt or from date of inspection report, if damage was concealed. If carrier does not take possession of the damaged merchandise within the time prescribed above, consignee must contact delivering carrier and request removal of goods from his premises within fifteen (15) days from the date of such communication. The above applies only when the carrier and consignee agree that the carrier will handle disposition of the salvage, and does not in any manner affect the legal duty that the consignee, when there is substantial value in the salvage, must accept and handle it in such manner as to mitigate the carrier's loss as much as possible. If there is doubt of carrier liability, the carrier will so advise consignee; in which event the consignee may hold the merchandise until liability of carrier is determined, or may dispose of it so as to mitigate the damage, and may file claim for such damage. Carrier will remove the damaged goods within the fifteen (15) day period or advise consignee that carrier liability is in doubt and that damaged merchandise is to be retained by the consignee until carrier has completed investigation of claim.


Prior Transportation

If a concealed damage inspection report covers merchandise which has had prior transportation movement, consignee is required to assist carrier in determining if shipment was opened and inspected by shipper prior to reshipment, and if not, shall then assist carrier in every way possible to establish record of prior transportation.


Special or Unique Circumstances

To verify piece count and condition of goods being tendered, carrier personnel must be permitted access to observe loading and/or unloading of each shipment at time of pick-up and/or delivery. In the event that carrier personnel is not provided or permitted access to observe the loading and/or unloading of each shipment, carrier personnel shall notate the restriction placed on it by the consignor and/or consignee on the bill of lading, delivery receipt, or other shipping papers at the time the restriction is imposed and prior to signing the transportation documents. Such notation may be in the form of "Shipper Load and Count," "SL&C," "Said to Contain," "S.T.C.," or any other similar form that clearly documents that the carrier was unable to verify the condition and quantity of the goods tendered to it. When bills of lading or shipping papers are so notated, carrier liability may be limited in the event of loss and/or damage due to improper loading or unloading.


What You Should Know About Loss and Damage Claims