In transportation and logistics, going through the claims process is sometimes unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be painful. The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) established a general timeline to make processing a claim easier for all parties. You can also work with Echo as your third-party logistics (3PL) partner to ensure you’re adhering to the right process. The following steps outline the lifecycle of a cargo claim. This is the third installment in our claims series. Here’s what’s standard for most carriers.

Step 1: You File Your Claim and the Carrier Acknowledges It

For all cargo claims, the claimant must file the claim within nine months from the date of delivery. Shortage claims need to be filed within nine months of the shipment date. The claimant must also provide supporting documents for the claim, including the original commercial invoice, signed proof of delivery (POD), packing slip (if available), pictures of the damaged cargo (if available), and the repair or replacement invoice (must be an actual invoice). The carrier then has 30 days to acknowledge the claim and begin an investigation.

If you work with Echo, one of our reps can file a claim on your behalf and keep you apprised of updates and any requests made by the carrier. You can read more about damages in our blog article, “How to Notate Damages and Shortages on the BOL and POD.”

Step 2: The Carrier Reviews Your Claim

After acknowledging the claim, the carrier will begin the review process. The carrier may ask to review the claim for mitigation or to confirm the total extent of the damage. Mitigation is the reduction of the claim’s value in the form of repairs, a discount sale, or a salvage allowance. If mitigation is not possible, the claimant must provide a detailed response in writing to your Echo rep, who can forward that document to the carrier.

The carrier may also request an inspection of the shipment. For this reason, the freight and original packaging must be saved, maintained, and available until the conclusion of the claim. A request for salvage pickup can also be scheduled when the claim is approved.

Step 3: The Carrier Makes a Decision

By law, carriers have 30 days to acknowledge the claim once they receive it. In total, they have 120 days to make a final decision. While Echo has strong relationships with our carrier partners, we have no influence on the carrier’s decision and are not liable for damage to shipments or the outcome of claims. However, we can provide the proper forms, assist you with collecting proper documentation, and file the claim on your behalf.

Step 4: You Get the Results

If a claim is declined, the claimant can file an appeal to present more evidence supporting his or her case. This might include additional photographs or a more detailed description of the damage or loss. During the appeal process, Echo will work to resolve the claim as quickly as possible.

When concealed damage is not clearly accountable to the carrier, a likely outcome is the carrier offering a one-third settlement of the amount claimed. This reflects even accountability to the three parties who came in physical contact with the freight—the carrier, shipper, and consignee. You can read more in our blog post, “How to Report Concealed Damage to Your Shipments.”

If the claim is approved, the carrier will send the payment to the claimant’s company. At Echo, our clients typically receive their check within 7-10 business days after approval. As a leading provider of transportation management services, Echo is committed to ensuring all cargo claims are processed fairly and in a timely manner in accordance with NMFTA guidelines.

Work with Echo to File Your Claim

Echo will advocate on your behalf during the entire claims process. Communication and transparency are essential to addressing shipment damages. If your shipment is affected, follow the steps outlined above to strengthen your claim and resolve the issue. Our established relationship with carrier partners allows Echo to help you navigate the claims process and verify the proper steps are followed. Contact an Echo representative today at 800-354-7993 or, or request a quote for a shipment.


More on damages and claims:
How to Notate Damages and Shortages on the BOL and POD
How to Report Concealed Damage to Your Shipments