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Concealed Damage in Freight & What You Need to Know

Concealed Damage is one of the worst parts of freight shipping. No doubt about it. You take the time to package the freight correctly, you inspect the freight at delivery, you sign the POD “clean,” and then you finally unpack your shipment and…damage. Ahhhhhhhhh!!!

But fear not. All is not lost. There is a process that deals with concealed damage, one that *fingers crossed* can help you file a damage claim, and hopefully retrieve money lost. This blog will walk you through the process, supplying you with the information you need to know, and the steps on what to do. But first, let’s start with a simple definition.

concealed damage


Concealed damage is freight that might have been damaged during transit, BUT, the damage/loss/shortage was not notated on the POD.

To avoid getting burned by concealed damage, follow these steps:

  • When the consignee (you) accepts the shipment, take the time to inspect the freight before signing the Proof of Delivery. Of course, this requires the driver to wait until the completion of the inspection, and some drivers can be pushy or impatient (not all the time, but it happens!). If this is the case, sign the POD with “Pending further inspection.” This can help during the claims process later down the line. 
  • If you find yourself dealing with concealed damage, time is of the essence! Contact your broker immediately. Explain the situation. They’ll take care of contacting the freight carrier and alerting them of the damaged shipment. On your end, take pictures and notate the damage. These pictures will be essential in the claims process
  • Take control of your freight. Drivers and carriers have a lot of pickups and deliveries on their plate, so don’t take their word that they’ll alert the carrier, or take pictures and start the claim process. If you run into concealed damage it will be up to you and your freight broker to alert the carrier, file the claim (usually within 5 days), and perhaps even set up an inspection appointment when the carrier could come out and see the damaged freight.

Concealed damage is a real pain in the butt, and we’re not going to lie to you, it can be difficult to get full payouts from damaged freight that doesn’t have notations on the Proof of Delivery. Filing damaged freight claims and getting the full payment due is hard enough as is, and that’s with a signed POD at the time of delivery stating, emphatically, THE FREIGHT WAS DAMAGED AT THE TIME OF DELIVERY. To get payment when that doesn’t exist makes things difficult. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow these steps!

We’ve talked before about third party insurance, but it’s a really important weapon in the fight against concealed damage (or damage of any type, really). If you purchase third party insurance, you have a much greater chance at getting a full payout for damaged freight, concealed or otherwise.

So if you are worried about the consignee not properly inspecting the freight at the time of delivery, we recommend getting third party insurance!

Note EVERYTHING on the delivery receipt.

How you fair with your freight’s concealed damage comes down to timeliness and attention to detail. Do everything in your power to inspect the freight before you sign the POD, while the driver is right there beside you. If you find that you’ve been a victim of some concealed damage, alert your freight broker immediately. They’ll give you the best chance at recouping at least some of your loss.


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