Right, let’s get the important disclaimer out the way immediately as far as courier loads and their insurance is concerned: This article is not qualified legal advice. You should consult a lawyer and/or the specific information of your courier’s insurance for exact confirmation. However, you might find the following to be useful food for thought.
Insuring your goods or items
Some delivery companies won’t carry ‘cargo’ as such. They offer their services, at least notionally, on the basis that you’re only shipping paperwork with them – something that will usually have no intrinsic value. So, their insurance is limited and very restrictive in terms of what it covers. Now that’s an odd notion. Is a very expensive antique book ‘paperwork’? Is a copy of a signed contract where huge sums depend upon it arriving when it should, not ‘valuable’ because it’s only paper?
Most delivery drivers will accept courier loads that are clearly ‘things’ rather than just documents. They’ll also acknowledge that they can have value and may offer insurance to cover the items against specified risks.
The cover provided varies hugely from one company to another and it is in your best interests to read it thoroughly. Here are a few questions to ask:
• Are your items excluded from cover by their nature? For example, some companies won’t insure (some won’t carry either) antiques, jewellery, cash, liquids, mechanical items, gemstones, precious metals and so on.
• Does the cover include goods being received damaged? Some policies might only cover loss or total destruction. Total destruction can be hugely difficult to define and a package arriving dented at destination might not be considered to be a total write-off in insurance terms even if the item inside is wrecked.
• Think about the difference between total loss (usually a straightforward claim) and extended delays. If your parcel disappears for a week and causes you huge difficulties as a result, will the insurance meet your consequential costs?
• Look for packing requirements. Some insurance only covers items shipped in courier-provided or approved packing. That might not be much use to you if your goods won’t fit in the boxes or bags provided and you’ve had to use your own.
• Pay attention to maximum claim values per item. Some policies might allow you to insure up to, say, £5,000 in total but have a maximum value per item limit of £500. So, insuring 10 items in the shipment for £5,000 would be fine but it might be pointless to do so if you only have two items in the parcel, as the most you’ll be able to claim is £1000.
• Keep relative values in mind. Some insurance policies will require you to prove evidence of the value of the goods before they’ll meet a claim. That can be a lot harder than it sounds because they’ll be looking to see what you paid for it – not what you’ve billed the recipient for it. So, if you paid £500 for a machine then cleaned and repaired it before selling it on for £2,000, some insurers will want to talk about your original purchase invoice of £500 only.
Problems with courier loads are relatively rare but they do happen. That’s why it’s important to assess the insurance cover provided and make sure that it’s adequate.