US Postal Service Changes Insurance Claims-Processing
By Ina Steiner
The United States Postal Service is revising its regulations on domestic mail insurance claims. The damaged goods inspection policy is changing, and local Post Office personnel will no longer adjudicate claims - instead, all claims will be adjudicated by Accounting Services.
The USPS said online claims processing service will be available to customers who purchase domestic insurance through any retail channel (i.e., USPS.com, Automated Postal Center kiosks, local Post Office facilities, or authorized PC Postage providers. In addition, Express Mail customers may file online claims, even if no additional insurance was purchased. (COD and Registered Mail claims may not be filed online.) A customer may also file a claim by downloading a form from USPS.com and mailing it directly to Postal Service Accounting Services in St. Louis, MO, or continue to file the claim form at a local Post Office and have it sent to St. Louis for them.
The damaged goods inspection policy for domestic claims is also changed. Customers must retain the damaged article and container, including packaging, wrapping, and any other contents received, until the claim is fully resolved. Customers are no longer required to take these materials to the Post Office at the time a claim is filed. Rather, upon receiving a request from the Postal Service, they are required to turn the materials over to their local Post Office for inspection, retention, and disposition in accordance with the claims decision.
The USPS rejected a suggestion that, rather than being required to retain the contents and all packaging materials until the claim was fully processed, the Postal Service instead accept digital photographs as proof of damage or proof of missing contents, and allow packaging to be discarded, with the contents retained, pending final disposition.
The Postal Service said it believed that the requirement to retain the contents and packaging was necessary and is consistent with standard industry practices.
Changes go into effective on May 11, 2009.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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