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Fedex insurance policy.

As a collector of cabinet size mineral specimens, I have for many years been involved with the shipment of these specimens across the country. I have always taken solace in the fact that the mineral specimens that I shipped or received were fully insured by the carrier, so I believed myself to be financially protected, should loss or damage occur. This past November 2005, I received a large specimen valued and insured for $7200, using the Federal Express Corporation (FedEx). When the carton containing the mineral specimen arrived, the bottom corner of the carton was smashed inward and upon closer examination, it was obvious that the carton had been mishandled during its journey to me. When I tried to refuse the carton, the FedEx delivery agent stated that since no delivery signature was required to receive the carton, it would just be left at my address, whether I accepted delivery or not.

Once it was determined that the mineral specimen was damaged and a claim was filed, FedEx, without even retrieving the carton and mineral specimen for examination, sent out payment in the amount of $500. When questioned about the disparity between the $7200 declared value for the item and the $500 settlement payment, FedEx responded that they "do not insure items, but merely accept payment as additional freight charges to increase the declared value limitations of liability on higher valued items." This limit of liability does not exceed $500. In short what this means is that FedEx will take your money for whatever value you declare an item to be worth, however, should something happen to that item, they will only make payment up to $500.

The lesson to be learned for all mineral collectors is that if you are shipping high-priced specimens, make sure that a delivery signature is required and be aware that no matter what value you declare for the mineral specimen, FedEx will only pay out $500 should damage or loss occur. I have only had this unfortunate experience while using FedEx as a carrier, so I don't know what policy other carriers have. I would advise all mineral collectors to look into this in great detail before intrusting your valued specimens to any carrier. Better yet, arrange to carry your own shipping insurance.

Cliff Vermont

Brielle, New Jersey

That's good advice. And it always pays to read the fine print. FedEx prints their "Declared Value Limits" statement on the back of each airbill. It states that, except for shipments in a FedEx Envelope, FedEx Pak, or FedEx Sleeve (for which the maximum allowed declared value is $500), the highest declared value allowed is $50,000, "unless your package contains items of extraordinary value, in which case the highest declared value allowed is $500." Mineral specimens definitely fall under the category of "items of extraordinary value," so would not be covered for more than $500. FedEx must have concluded that from information you supplied when making your claim. FedEx states that their liability "may not exceed the maximum allowable declared value...." So you can declare any amount up to $50,000, and pay the proportional fee, even if that declared value is not "allowable"--FedEx will not attempt to determine, when accepting a shipment, whether you have exceeded the allowable declaration of value; they will only make this determination later, if a claim is filed.

FedEx has made provision for customers to insure "items of extraordinary value" through Trans Global Insurance Corporation (1-800-245-4852). However, that insurance (charged at 1% of the declared value) covers only loss of the whole package or catastrophic damage (earthquake, flood, etc.), and not negligence on the part of FedEx, so a damaged box and broken specimen would not be covered even by this means.

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Publication:The Mineralogical Record
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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