Loss Lessons in Commercial Trucking

Cargo Damage

August 16, 2021

Description of the Accident:
Your driver calls into dispatch to state that he arrived at the destination and the load has been rejected. The customer maintains that upon opening the trailer it was determined that some of the cargo was damaged. Your driver goes on to advise that the shipper loaded all the cargo on the trailer, and the shipper did not let the driver inspect prior to sealing the trailer despite the driver’s request.

The Claim:
Dispatch promptly relays the message to your Safety/Claims Manager, who calls the insurance carrier to report a claim.  A claim file is set up, and a local inspector is out there the next day to review the alleged damage. Some of the cargo is able to be salvaged, and that amount is credited toward the total amount of the claim. Upon being contacted, the shipper advises the claim adjuster that they did allow the driver to inspect the cargo prior to leaving the dock, and they can produce dock workers who will confirm that was the case.

Several pieces of documentation are requested by the claim adjuster for review as applicable, including:

  • A narrative explanation of what happened
  • Any pictures
  • All agreements, including those between you (motor carrier) and the customer
  • The booking confirmation, loading instructions, Bill of Lading, trucking receipts, proof of delivery, freight invoice, and customer’s commercial invoice & packing list
  • Customer’s formal claim

Coverage Determination:
Despite your strong belief that the shipper was at fault for this loss, the claim adjuster pays the claim under your Cargo coverage. The claim adjuster advised that while at initial glance it appeared to be the driver’s word against the dock workers’ word, the fact is the driver went ahead and drove away from the dock without notifying dispatch that there were any issues, taking any pictures, or making any notations on the Bill of Lading. Also, your Safety/Claims Manager was not able to provide a report showing there were no hard braking events while the load was in transit.

The Lesson:
Train your drivers to contact dispatch immediately for further instruction, and do not leave the dock, if there are any issues at the shipper’s location. Have your drivers take pictures of the cargo before, during, and after loading into the trailer to confirm the condition of the cargo.

If you have any questions about a cargo loss scenario or for additional risk mitigation resources, please contact your Marsh McLennan Agency representative for more guidance.