Guide to Shipping Fragile Items
Damage and loss are an unfortunate reality in the world of freight shipping, and fragile items are even more prone to potential damage during transit. To avoid angry customers, lost business, and poor reviews, it is critical to be aware of the best practices for packing and shipping fragile items. This guide will provide helpful tips to ensure your fragile shipment has the best chance of arriving at its destination wholly intact and undamaged and how to protect yourself from liability if it doesn’t.
Select the Right Box
The first line of defense to keep your items safe while shipping LTL is the packaging itself. For the best protection, make sure the crates or boxes you select are large enough and are new or have retained their sturdiness. Use Double layered or heavy-duty boxes for additional security. If you are moving many boxes, it is best to stack them on a pallet (placing the heaviest boxes on the bottom and lightest boxes on the top) and wrap them up with shrink wrap to avoid any damage due to shifting or movement on the truck.
Dunnage is the fragile item shipper’s best friend. Dunnage refers to any padding material used to protect goods from damage during shipping. This includes bubble wrap, air pillows, packing peanuts, plastic or wood supports and separators, kraft paper, foam, and corrugated paper. Items are wrapped in dunnage, or dunnage is placed around items to fill in excess space in the box. When selecting the most protective dunnage for your shipment, consider the types of products you are shipping, the box or container they are being shipped in, and how they are transported to find the most effective solution.
Affix the Appropriate Labeling
Proper labeling can also help prevent freight from being lost, misplaced, or damaged. The address and phone number of both the shipper and receiver should be clearly affixed to the shipment, as well as any special instructions or identifiers that can help a shipment be identified more easily. “Fragile” stickers, “this side up” stickers, or any other labels that indicate how a package should be handled or stored can help prevent goods from being mishandled or damaged during loading, unloading, or in-transit.
Purchase Freight Insurance
Third-party freight insurance can provide additional coverage beyond the legally required protection plan offered by all LTL carriers. Carrier liability is not freight insurance and usually only partially covers lost, damaged, or delayed freight on a flat rate or dollars per pound basis depending on shipment’s freight class, packaging, commodity type, and the value of the items.
To make sure that your fragile items are covered in the event of unforeseen damage or loss due to inadequate packaging, temperature, shifting cargo, mishandling, natural disaster, theft, motor vehicle accidents, or any other possibility that can occur during shipping, you must purchase additional freight insurance from a third party.
To successfully submit your freight insurance claim, make sure to include the appropriate invoice, photos, and proof of delivery documents so that your claim is accepted, processed, and paid out in the fastest time frame possible.
Carefully Inspect Freight Upon Delivery
A Proof of Delivery (POD) is a document signed by the receiver of a shipment that confirms the shipment has arrived and all the items are accounted for and have no visible damage. The receiver, or consignee, signs and dates the POD after examining the shipment.
The POD is essential because it contains any noted damage to a shipment to be used later for any insurance claims made.
Before the POD is signed, the shipment should be thoroughly examined and the condition of the shipment documented, including photographs and video, if necessary. Each item in the shipment should be inspected for visible damage, including the packaging and pallet. Take care to note any tears, holes, stains, or other damage. It is also best to do this with the driver of the shipment present and obtain a signature or initials from the driver next to any damage noted to avoid disputes over future claims. Careful inspection and clearly filled out paperwork at the time of shipment and delivery will go a long way in a later insurance claim for any damaged or lost items.
Follow these steps and rest easy knowing your fragile LTL freight is safe, secure, and insured.