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How to File an Insurance Claim with the U.S. Postal Service

Making a claim with the post office for your lost eBay items: Oh man, talk about a hassle. But making a claim with any carrier isn’t a bowl of cherries on any day. Before making a claim with the USPS, check to make sure your package was covered by postal insurance. If you use private insurance instead, you make a claim with your insurance carrier, not the post office.

When a package is lost in transit, you must wait a minimum of 21 days after the mailing date before you make the claim. If an item arrives at the buyer’s door damaged, you may make a claim with the post office immediately.

There’s always a question as to who makes the claim:

  • Damaged or lost contents: Either the seller or the buyer can file the claim.

  • Complete loss: When a package has not turned up within 30 days, the seller files the claim.

You can file your claim online direct on the USPS site.

If you want to make your claim at the Post Office, you must get a copy of PS Form 1000, Domestic Claim or Registered Mail Inquiry. Go to the post office or download it.

Fill out the form with all the details required and bring your backup information.

To make a damage claim, you must produce evidence of insurance. This can be either of the following documents:

  • Original mailing receipt: The receipt that was stamped at the post-office counter when the item was mailed.

  • Original box or wrapper: This must show the addresses of both the sender and the recipient along with whatever tags or stamps the post office put on the package to say it’s insured.

You must also produce evidence showing the value of the item when it was mailed. The following list shows some of the documents accepted by the post office for damage claims (however, they may ask for more thorough proof):

  • Sales receipt or descriptive invoice

  • Copy of your canceled check or money order receipt

  • Picture and description of a similar item from a catalog if your receipt isn’t available

  • A letter from the seller stating the value of the item

  • Your own description of the item, including date and time the item was purchased and whether it’s new or vintage

For missing packages, you (the seller) need a letter from the buyer (dated 30 days after the package was mailed) stating that the buyer never received the package.

If your buyer is too cranky to cooperate, go to the actual post office where you mailed the package. Ask for a written statement that there is no record of the delivery being made. Postal employees can look up the insurance or delivery confirmation numbers to find whether the delivery took place, but the post office will charge you $6.60 for their efforts.

That amount will be reimbursed if the post office decides to pay your claim because it doesn’t locate your package under a bale of hay in Indiana. If all goes well and your claim is deemed legit, you should get your payment within 30 days. If you don’t hear from the post office within 45 days, you have to submit a duplicate claim using the original claim number.

Note to self (and to you): Always make a copy of any form you give to the government.

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