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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3104 - July 09, 2013 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 4

USPS Clears up Questions about Priority Mail Insurance

By Ina Steiner
July 09, 2013

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Online merchants who rely on Priority Mail to send packages got some good news - beginning July 28th, domestic Priority Mail will include, without additional charge, either $50 or $100 insurance for loss, damage, and missing merchandise.

But shippers had trouble determining under which situation they would receive $50 in free insurance, and in which situation they would receive $100 in free insurance. Spokesperson Darleen Reid-DeMeo addressed the question for EcommerceBytes on Monday.

"Customers walking into a PO (Retail) or using USPS.com to ship generally will get $50 Priority Mail Insurance included with their purchase. Commercial customers who ship large volumes in most instances will receive $100 Priority Mail Insurance included on each package. These customers are volume driven and provide electronic manifests."

But, as many merchants know, there are two commercial rates - Commercial Base (small and medium sized sellers generally get this rate when using online postage services), and Commercial Plus, for high-volume shippers.

According to Eric Nash of Stamps.com, the $100 Priority Mail insurance is only for Commercial Plus customers. "Overall, Stamps.com prints Commercial Base pricing for all packages and the USPS will be offering $50 of free coverage in Priority Mail for customers." Those customers who have been approved for Commercial Plus pricing from the USPS will automatically receive $100 of coverage for all of their Priority Mail packages when they print their shipping labels using Stamps.com.

"It's important to note that this free insurance coverage is being added from the USPS for shipping labels that include the Intelligent Mail package barcode," Nash said, and since the insurance is provided from the USPS, all claims would need to be processed with the USPS at usps.com/domestic-claims.

Endicia Product Marketing Manager Jessica Foth said Endicia would also support the new free USPS insurance coverage for all of its customers automatically, both for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus shippers.

Another question raised by a merchant was whether they'd be able to purchase additional insurance coverage beyond what the USPS was providing with Priority Mail shipments. Reid-DeMeo said additional insurance coverage may be available for an additional fee.

The new, free insurance for Priority Mail comes as the USPS rebrands its Express Mail product under the Priority Mail umbrella - as of July 28th, it will be called Priority Mail Express. As part of the changes, all Priority Mail packages will have an estimated service of 1 day, 2 days, or 3 days that will be displayed on the payment receipt, online shipping label and in the USPS Tracking information.

Reid-DeMeo said nothing has changed with regard to insurance for Priority Mail Express shipments - up to $100 of insurance is still included at no extra charge with Domestic Priority Mail Express shipments, and for international shipments, document reconstruction insurance up to $100 and merchandise insurance up to $200 is included, at no extra charge, against loss, damage, or missing contents, she said.

Current prices for Priority Mail will remain in place. See more information in Five Things to Know about USPS Changes to Priority Mail.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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