You pay peanuts….., and you suddenly gain a lot. Insurance of courier parcels

When you insure a courier parcel for the first time you may be surprised twice. The first time when you learn that insurance is already included in the price (most couriers use automatic insurance – coverage up to a certain value of a parcel). The second time when you learn from the courier’s price list that you can insure a parcel worth thousands for a few zlotys. Below you will find a few tips on when to insure a package and how to ensure that the insurance is effective.

Insurance alone cannot ensure that your losses in the event of a lost or damaged parcel will be fully covered. An insurance company may not accept claims if negligence on your part can be proved.

Automatic coverage

Even if you do not know about it, most courier companies insure shipments by default. Of course, such coverage is only up to a certain value which may vary among different couriers. You’d better check this value on the couriers’ websites or phone their consultants as it may change from time to time. The fact is that the automatic coverage value may be in a range from tens to thousands of zlotys.

Automatic coverage can be listed as a separately priced item or included in the price of the service. It provides for courier companies a means of protecting themselves against possible claims, and for customers a guarantee that at least part of their potential losses resulting from damage to the goods or loss of the package will be covered.

Insuring parcels of high value

If your parcel’s value is higher than the limit of automatic coverage, you can always buy additional insurance to the actual value you declare. Although it sounds serious at the beginning, the price for additional value insurance is low – usually it is peanuts, not even a percent of the declared value.

A parcel worth 50,000 PLN can be insured for less than 10 PLN. However, very often you may insure your parcel only up to a certain limit of the declared value. And if there is such a limit, the price of the insurance above it increases sharply. In one of the large German courier companies operating in Poland ( you will pay 3.5 PLN for parcel insurance of the declared value up to PLN 50,000 PLN. However, when the declared value is higher than 50,000 PLN and lower than 100,000 PLN, you have to pay 0.2%, of the declared value. So for a parcel worth 51,000 PLN you will have to pay 1,020 PLN.

You should always get the actual terms and conditions of the courier with specific pricing instead of relying on any internet guidance.

Compensation without insurance

You can always claim reimbursement for damage or destruction of the goods during courier transport. Even if the parcel has not been insured. However, you have to be prepared for the long and winding road of the courier procedure. First of all, you need to prove that the package was really of the high value you are claiming. Secondly, you are obliged to prove the courier’s responsibility (negligence or deliberate act) for the damage. Of course, the courier will try to prove exactly the opposite. When it comes to shipments of a really high value, processing a claim may take months, and the outcome may turn out to be not always beneficial for the sender.

You have much more chance if you bought insurance. Usually the reimbursement of the insured value is not a problem. However, there are some situations when you cannot receive the expected compensation.

Is insurance always beneficial?

If you have insured a parcel which is lost, you should get compensation equal to the insured value. It is difficult, even in theory, to imagine a situation in which you could be blamed for being involved in the disappearance of your package. The only reason for compensation refusal would be if the loss was your fault.

However, if the goods were destroyed or damaged, the insurance company will check whether or not this was due to, for example, bad packaging or lack of appropriate labelling of the shipment (“This way up”, “Glass, with care”). If you have not made any packaging mistakes, the compensation will cover your losses.

In this context, it should be emphasised that pursuant to the Polish Act on Transport Law, it is the sender’s responsibility to properly prepare goods for transport (see article 41.1 of the Act for details). Therefore, if the case goes to court, nobody will listen to you referring to the fact that the courier has accepted the package. You will also not have a chance of compensation if you fail to comply with the courier’s packaging recommendations as set out in the courier’s service terms and conditions.