U.S. Postal Service international shipments during the Coronavirus pandemic have seen huge delays due to a reduction in air cargo capacity as commercial airlines that usually transport mail shipments are flying very few international routes.
One problem shippers are dealing with is unhappy customers who do not understand why their shipments are taking 4 to 8 weeks sometimes.
More importantly, shippers are also struggling to sort out insurance claims on international shipments. When can you file, how does it take, etc?
One of the big differences between shipping internationally with USPS and courier services like UPS, FedEx, and DHL is that USPS relies on the destination country (“Foreign Post”) to provide updates on tracking.
The. U.S. Postal Service also requires cooperation from the Foreign Post to sort out lost and damaged products for insurance cases.
To offer some guidance on the insurance process for international shipments, here is an FAQ of the current situation regarding filing insurance claims on USPS international shipments.
USPS International Insurance Claims FAQ
At what point does the Postal Service consider an international shipment “lost”?
The package must have a tracking/event scan to show it was received into the USPS network. However, if USPS does not have a delivered or return to sender scan, the package would be considered lost and eligible for a claim after 30 days.
If an international shipment traveled to the destination market but then went dark on scans and the shipment hasn’t been returned to sender, is it handled differently from a claims perspective then a shipment where the item never left the country and the tracking event went dark?
If the scan events show the package was received in the destination country, but failed delivery the Foreign Post would be liable for the indemnity. USPS would pay the U.S. customer and assign liability to the Foreign Post.
U.S. customers should expect to wait 60 days for insurance resolution as the U.S. Postal Service is giving more time to the Foreign Post to respond to insurance claims.
Normally claims are handled within 30 days, but since so many Foreign Posts are operating under force majeure rules due to the Coronavirus pandemic, extended claim processing time should be expected.
Will international claims related to damages be honored?
Yes, the U.S. customer will need to take the damaged article to the local Post Office for inspection. The Post Office will complete a damage report PS Form 2856 to verify damage and forward it to International Claims. Once received along with proof of value the claim will be adjudicated for the cost of the item or insured amount.
If a shipment did not leave the country, and was damaged during the return process, will an international insurance claim be honored?
Yes, if the package was damaged while in USPS possession it will be honored if insured.
Do Claims need to be filed in a timely manner?
USPS still requires claims to be filed within the allotted time periods.
- Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) – 3 to 30 days after shipment
- Priority Mail Express International (PMEI) – 3 to 90 days after shipment
- PMEI with Money Back Guarantee – 3 to 30 days after shipment
- Priority Mail International (PMI) – 7 days to 6 months after shipment
- Registered Mail Service – 7 days to 6 months after shipment
Third-Party International Insurance for USPS Shipments
Some shippers use third-party insurance to cover their shipments. However, shippers should contact the insurance provider and ask about their claims processing.
Often, third-party shippers will require USPS to first make a determination if an item is lost or damaged before they pay out claims.
Therefore, it is likely that filing a claim with third-party insurance providers will result in an equally longer claims process.
How to File U.S. Postal Service International Insurance Claims
To begin the claims process, shippers should to go to “File a Claim” at https://www.usps.com/help/claims.htm and click “International Shipments” to submit an international inquiry online.
As a reminder, shippers must file claims with the U.S. Postal Service, this cannot be done by the recipient in a foreign country.
We will update this post with new information as it become available. This information is valid as of June 10, 2020.
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