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Filing a Chemical Freight Claim: The Ultimate Guide for Shippers


As much as shippers and liquid bulk freight brokers would like to say they have never encountered a chemical freight claim, more often than not this is never the case.  With so many outside forces at play, if you have chemical freight moving at high volumes, at one point in your supply chains life-cycle you will stumble upon the need to file a chemical freight claim with your liquid bulk freight broker.

This short guide will give you actionable advice that you will need to not only maximize the amount you can recover from a freight claim, but to do it in a way that keeps your relationships with your brokers and carriers positive after its conclusion.

When can you file a freight claim?

In general, you can file a chemical freight claim any time you suspect there to be loss or damage to your liquid bulk freight that is quantifiable and substantial.  Some examples can be when a consignee receives a contaminated load, a spillage that occurs in transit or a number of other scenario’s where you or your client suffer a loss due to the transportation of material that you contracted with your liquid bulk broker or carrier.

Who do you file a claim with

A common misconception is that a broker is the one who a shipper files a claim with when this is actually not the case.  Your broker, if they are well versed in the chemical shipping industry, actually acts as your liaison with the carrier when you choose to file a chemical freight claim.

It is wise to go through your freight broker as they are typically well experienced in the claims process and can ensure that you receive the maximum compensation for your loss of product.

The carrier is the one who will be compensating you for the loss from their insurance policy.  While some smaller claims are settled outside of insurance, larger more significant losses will have to go through a strict reviewal process.  That’s why it is of utmost importance that you be sure to follow each of these important steps to maximize your chances of your claims being approved.

Steps to file a Chemical Freight Claim

  1. Notify your broker of your intent to file a claim

The first step to filling a claim is to make all parties aware of your intention.  Now, according to the Carmack amendment, which outlines your rights of a shipper and the rights of the carriers, a claim against freight must be acknowledged if placed within a 9 month time-frame of the delivery date noted on the proof of delivery.

In our liquid bulk freight brokering experience, the sooner this can be done, the better chance you have at receiving a quick response to your bulk chemical claim.

  • Do not dispose of any material you are claiming against

This is where most shippers and consignee’s go wrong in the freight claim process.  Legally, once you file a claim on freight, the carrier has the right not only to inspect the freight to verify your claim, but upon paying out the claim take complete ownership of the damaged goods with the option to dispose or sell at a salvage value.

If the carrier is never given the right to inspect the freight or to take possession of the freight, there is a very slim chance that your claim will ever be approved.

  • Gather all paperwork and communication with your bulk broker

It’s imperative during the chemical freight claims process to gather all of your communications, tender and delivery paperwork and have it sent promptly to your broker in order to expedite the freight claims process.

Insurance companies will often ask questions such as,

“Was damage or shortage noted on the proof of delivery?”

“Where is the original rate confirmation for the order?”

“Do you have any evidence of communication as soon as the damage occurred?”

If you were fortunate to be in the hands of an experienced liquid bulk freight broker then they should be able to not only gather all of your necessary documents, but also provide a detailed account as to what happened throughout the entire load.

  • Be honest about every aspect of the claim

While unfortunate, as with every industry there are cases where some shippers, unknowingly or not will try to exaggerate their claim in order to “cash in” on their carriers mistakes.

As with any insurance fraud, overclaiming the amount of freight lost, even if it’s done in error can result in your claim being denied and significant fines.

In general, you want to claim only the value of what you lost, not the value of which you sold the product for.  Some of the required documents to process a claim call for proof of the value or proof of the repair of your losses so the insurance company will be able to verify the true value of your chemical freight loss.

  • Be respectful and courteous at all times

It is extremely important, even more so in times of high tension to maintain composure to eliminate any unwanted friction with your liquid bulk freight broker and carriers alike.  It is easy to get wrapped up in emotion’s but this will only make processing your chemical freight claim more difficult for the broker, your carrier and their insurance company.

Always make an extra effort to be polite and courteous, understand that there are forces outside of everyone’s control that can result in a freight claim but there is no problem that can’t be solved.

While chemical freight claims are not always an easy process, following the above guidelines can not only expedite the processing time, but maximize the recovery value you will get for your chemical loss.

To put your company in the best possible scenario it is best to avoid this situation from the start by using a qualified liquid bulk chemical broker like Total Connection Logistics.

We have a liquid bulk dispatch team with over 50 years of combined experience ready to ship any liquid bulk freight including Hazardous Materials.

If you need a quote for a chemical shipment or would like to ask some questions about how the claims process works, feel free to fill out any form on this website or give us a call at 732-817-0401

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for entertainment purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.  This article is based on general research and 20 years of industry experience shipping liquid bulk chemicals and is not to be used as legal advice.  Total Connection is not responsible for any actions you or your company takes as a result of reading this article.  Always consult a professional transportation attorney before filing a freight claim.


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