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Domestic Claims - The Basics

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Article Number000006089
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To learn about, or file a domestic claim for loss or damage, please visit File a Claim or select the links below.

If you think your package or mail is lost or your mailpiece is missing contents, please visit Missing Mail - The Basics for more information.

Who can file a claim?

How to file a claim?

When to file a claim?

Saving an online claim

Claims and payment questions

Postage and insurance reimbursement

Proof of value

Proof of damage

Proof of insurance

How do I appeal a denied claim?

Web browser issues

What is covered if insurance is not purchased?

How are some products covered by insurance?

Eligible ItemsIneligible Items
 

Who can file a domestic claim?

Either the person sending the mailpiece (Mailer) or the person receiving the mailpiece (Recipient) may file a claim for a damaged or missing article.

Note: If the Mailer files an insurance claim for a damaged article still in the possession of the addressee, the addressee is required to retain the damaged article and container (including packaging, wrapping, and any other contents received) until the claim is fully resolved. Upon written request by the Postal Service™, the addressee must turn the materials over to a Post Office™ for inspection, retention, and disposition in accordance with the claim's decision. 


How to file a claim?

There are two (2) options to file a domestic insurance claim:

Options for Filing Domestic Insurance Claims

Online

By Mail

You may File a Claim online, which is the preferred method. Follow steps 1-3 under "How to File a Claim" to make sure you have everything you need before you get started. 

Proof of value and proof of insurance is required.

Note: You can add up to 10 items as long as they're included in the same tracking number.

If you're unable to file a claim online, you may have a Domestic Claim form mailed to you.

  1. Call the USPS National Materials Customer Service center during their hours of operation to request a Domestic Claim form.
  2. Complete the form and mail it, along with proof of value and proof of insurance, to the address on the form.
National Materials Customer Service
1-800-332-0317

Hours of Operation
Monday - Friday 6:00 AM - 6:00 PM Central Time
Saturday/Sunday - CLOSED
Federal Holidays - CLOSED

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When to file a claim?

File claims as follows:

  1. Damaged or Missing Contents: customers should file a claim immediately but must file no later than 60 days from the date of mailing.
  2. Lost Articles: customers must file a claim within the time limits in the chart below.

MAIL TYPE OR SERVICE

WHEN TO FILE (FROM MAILING DATE)

No Sooner Than

No Later Than

Priority Mail Express®7 days60 days
Priority Mail Express COD15 days60 days
Registered Mail®15 days60 days
Registered COD15 days60 days
Insured Mail (including Priority Mail® under 503.4.2 and USPS Ground Advantage™)15 days60 days
COD15 days60 days
APO/FPO Priority Mail Express Military® Service21 days180 days
APO/FPO/DPO Insured Mail and Registered Mail (Priority Mail, First-Class Mail®, USPS Ground Advantage - Retail®, SAM, or PAL)45 days1 year
APO/FPO/DPO Insured Mail (Surface only)75 days1 year

Source DMM 609.1.4

Note: A decision regarding your claim is usually communicated within 5-10 days.

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How to save an online claim before submitting

If you are not ready to submit your online claim, or are not finished with it yet, you can click the "Save Claim" button which can be found at the bottom of each page. This will save the data you entered and will not need to be reentered.

  • To access your saved claims, go to https://www.usps.com/help/claims.htm.
  • Sign in using your account name and password.
  • Select the "Saved Claims" link.
  • To access an individual claim, you may search using the claim nickname provided when placing the claim, or the tracking number.

Saved claims will be deleted after 3 days, if not submitted.

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Claim and payment questions

All required claim documents must be completed and submitted. A decision regarding your claim is usually communicated within 5-10 days.

  • If your claim was filed online, you may check the status by signing in to your usps.com account. The following is needed when checking the status of your claim online.
    • USPS.com® log-in credentials
    • Claims nickname provided when placing the claim or tracking number.
  • To check the status of a mailed claim, a payment, or for questions about a received payment,
Please contact the Accounting Help Desk:
  • Email helpdeskaccounting-st.louis@usps.gov.
  • Call 1-866-974-2733
    • You will need to specify "Domestic" or "International"
  • Hours of operation are Monday - Friday, from 8:00am to 8:00pm Eastern Time (7:00am to 7:00pm Central Time).
Provide the following required information:
For more information about what happens after you file a claim, review the section titled, "After You File - Next Steps" at https://www.usps.com/help/claims.htm
 

Postage and insurance reimbursement

Postage reimbursements will be included with the claim payment if the item was lost. Insurance fees cover the cost of the insurance and are not reimbursed.

Lost item recovered after a claim has been paid, and reimbursing USPS®

If a lost Registered Mail®, insured, Collect on Delivery, or Priority Mail Express® article is recovered after payment of a claim, the payee may accept the article and reimburse the USPS for the full amount paid if the article is undamaged. If the article is damaged, has depreciated, or has missing contents, the payee may accept it and reimburse the USPS in an amount set by the Consumer Advocate, USPS Headquarters.

  1. Please contact the Accounting Help Desk:
    • Email helpdeskaccounting-st.louis@usps.gov.
    • Call 1-866-974-2733 
      • You will need to specify "Domestic" or "International"
    • Hours of operation are Monday - Friday, from 8:00am to 8:00pm Eastern Time (7:00am to 7:00pm Central Time).
  2. Provide the following required information:

What is proof of insurance?

Proof of insurance includes:

  • The original mailing receipt issued at the time of mailing
  • The outer packaging showing the names and addresses of the sender and the addressee and the proper label showing that the article was sent insured
  • A printed electronic online label record or a computer printout from the application used to print the label and purchase the insurance

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What is proof of damage?

Photos that clearly show the extent of damage will help with your case. For damaged claims, you’ll also need to provide an estimate of the repair costs from a reputable dealer.

If you received something damaged, please hang onto the original packaging and the damaged item until your claim is settled. You may be asked to take them to your local Post Office™ for inspection later. Please do not reship the package.

If a claim is filed because some or all of the contents are missing or damaged, the addressee must retain the mailing container, including any damaged articles, all packaging, and any contents received. Upon written request by the USPS®, the addressee must make this proof available to the local Post Office® for inspection, retention, and disposition in accordance with the claims decision. Failure to do so will result in denial of the claim. The Postal Service employee completes PS Form 3831, Receipt for Article(s) Damaged in Mails and it is provided to the customer. The Post Office retains the item until the claims process is completed and determines full, partial, or denied payment and whether to dispose of or return the damaged item. 

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What is proof of value?

Proof of value proves an item’s value or any required repair costs. Either the mailer or the addressee must submit acceptable proof to establish the cost or value of the merchandise at the time it was mailed. If you are filing your claim online, evidence may be uploaded or mailed in with your claim. Examples are:

  1. A sales receipt, paid invoice or bill of sale, or statement of value from a reputable dealer.
  2. Paid repair bills; if the claim is for partial damage, estimates of repair costs or appraisals from a reputable dealer. Repair costs may not exceed the original purchase price.
  3. Receipt or invoice for the costs incurred to buy a surety bond required to reissue a lost item.
  4. Receipt or invoice of costs incurred for the reconstruction of non-negotiable documents.
  5. A copy of a credit card statement or other documentation indicating the amount paid.
  6. For Internet transactions conducted through a Web-based payment network that offers payment services through a stored value account, provide a computer printout of the online transaction identifying the purchaser and seller, price paid, date of transaction, description of item purchased, and assurance that the transaction status is completed. The printout must clearly identify the Web-based payment network provider through which the Internet transaction was conducted.

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How do I appeal a denied domestic claim?

In your appeal, please explain why your case should be reviewed and provide any supporting documentation that can help your case. Make sure that proof of value, evidence of mailing and insurance coverage for the article is submitted with your appeal.

How do I appeal a denied domestic claim?

Online

By Mail

For a claim filed online, you may file an online appeal within 30 days of the date of the original decision by signing in to your online USPS.com® account then:

  1. Go to Claim History
  2. Select the claim to appeal (if more than one)
  3. Click Submit an Appeal

For a claim filed by mail, you may file a written appeal within 30 days of the date of the original decision to the following address:

DOMESTIC CLAIMS APPEALS
ACCOUNTING SERVICES
US POSTAL SERVICES
PO BOX 80141
ST. LOUIS, MO 63180-0141

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If my claim is denied a second time, what is the next step?

If your claim is denied a second time, you may file a final appeal to the Consumer Advocate within 30 days of the date of the second denial. If filed online, you may submit online. In your appeal, please explain why your case should be reviewed. Also, make sure that proof of value, evidence of mailing and insurance coverage for the article has been provided.

If you did not file online, you may mail your final appeal to the following address:

CONSUMER ADVOCATE
DOMESTIC CLAIMS APPEALS
475 L’ENFANT PLAZA SW
WASHINGTON, DC 20260-2200


Web browser issues

If you are having trouble submitting your online claim, please try clearing your browser cache, history, cookies or ensuring encryption. You may also visit USPS.com Website Support - Browser and Download Issues for detailed steps. If after following these steps and you are still experiencing issues, please Email Us and click "USPS.com" as the reason for your email. Include your name, a brief description of the issue and steps taken to resolve, and an agent will respond via email.

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What is covered if insurance is not purchased at the time of mailing?

If insurance is not purchased at the time of mailing, the United States Postal Service® is unable to honor any requests to be compensated for lost, missing, and/or damaged item(s). The Postal Service™ is not held liable for damage which occurs during the processing or handling of mail matter under Title 28, Section 2680(b) of the U.S. Code, except for Priority Mail Express®, Priority Mail®, Registered Mail®, Insured, or Collect on Delivery (COD).

The USPS® liability is restricted to lost, damaged, and/or missing content claims for the following products:

  • Insured Mail (includes any mail class purchased with Insurance, i.e. First-Class Mail® or Priority Mail®)
  • Registered Mail
  • COD
  • Priority Mail Express® (at any value)

The liability amount is limited to no more than the insurance value stated and paid for at the time of mailing. Claims without a mailing receipt can be filed, but payment may be limited to $100 for Insured Mail, Registered Mail, and Priority Mail Express®, $50 for COD Mail, and up to $100 for Priority Mail (dependent on payment method).

Notes:

  • The USPS is not legally authorized to compensate for loss or damage of uninsured articles.
  • The USPS is not liable for Priority Mail articles (First Class Mail over 13 ounces or articles of any weight which are expedited to Priority by paying additional fee) unless insurance is also purchased.

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How are some products covered by insurance?

  • Airline Tickets: You may only file for the price of filing a Lost Ticket Report with the airlines, not the full price of the lost ticket. It is your responsibility to file a Lost Ticket Report with the appropriate airline.
  • Gift cards: Indemnity is not paid for gift cards and similar items like lottery tickets, sweepstakes tickets, and contest entries.
  • Adult birds: If the number of birds per parcel follows the container manufacturer limits and each bird weighs more than 6 ounces, eligible birds are mail able via Priority Mail Express™ in biologically secure containers approved by the manager of Mailing Standards. Under the applicable standards, indemnity claims may only be paid for lost, damaged, or missing contents (not for death of the birds in transit if there is no visible damage to the mailing container).

Eligible birds are disease-free adult birds that weigh no more than 25 pounds. Mailers must also comply with all applicable governmental laws and regulations and state, municipal, and local ordinances, and USPS guidelines.

  • Money (currency / cash): Money that is sent through the mail can be insured up to its value, within the stated limits:
    • Except for Registered Mail, the maximum indemnity for negotiable items (defined as instruments that can be converted to cash without resort to forgery – such as money orders), currency, or bullion, is $15.00
    • For Registered Mail items, including money, the maximum insured value is $50,000
      • An item worth more than this amount must still be declared at full value, but the maximum insurable limit is $50,000. Ask your local Post Office for additional information (including pricing) for items valued above $50,000.
    • Important: Checks (including cashier's checks) are not considered cash and cannot be insured other than for document reconstruction costs. Coverage for document reconstruction is available for items mailed in Priority Mail Express mailpieces.
  • Collectibles: Collectibles can be insured based on the sales receipt, invoice, bill of sale, or statement of value from a reputable dealer.
    • When a claim is filed as cash, the amount of indemnity is only $15.00.
    • Please refer to section 609.4 of the Domestic Mail Manual or ask your local Post Office if you have additional questions about insuring collectibles.

For additional information on the payment of claims, go to section 609 of the DMM.

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ELIGIBLE Items

  • Priority Mail Express®:
    • Up to $100 insurance coverage included in price of postage with the following limits:
      • $100 for merchandise
      • $100 for document reconstruction
      • $15 for cash
    • Additional insurance coverage may be purchased for up to $5,000 for merchandise only
  • Priority Mail® and USPS Ground Advantage™:
    • Up to $100 insurance coverage included in price of postage
    • Insurance coverage is for merchandise only
    • Additional insurance coverage may be purchased for up to $5,000 for merchandise only
  • First-Class Mail®: available for merchandise only (i.e. you cannot insure correspondence).
    • Insured mail travels at the speed of the mail class it is purchased with
  • USPS Marketing Mail™ (bulk insurance only)
  • Package Services (Library Mail, Media Mail®, and Bound Printed Matter) and Parcel Select® pieces.
  • Official government mail endorsed "Postage and Fees Paid"

Please Note: Insured mail must be mailed from a physical Post Office™ location unless purchased online

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INELIGIBLE Items

  • Parcels containing matter offered for sale, addressed to prospective purchasers who have not ordered or authorized their sending. If such matter is mailed, payment is not made for loss, missing contents, or damage.
  • Coverage is not provided for consequential losses, delay, spoilage of perishable items or prohibited articles.
  • Articles so fragile that they cannot be carried safely in the mail regardless of packaging.
  • Articles not adequately prepared to withstand normal handling in the mail. As a rule, any mailable package should be insurable.
  • Mail not bearing the complete names and addresses of the sender and addressee.
  • USPS Marketing Mail letters, flats, and non-flat machinables.
  • First-Class Mail® and Priority Mail correspondence.


Additional Services

  • When an item is insured for more $500, the following services can be purchased:
    • Insurance Restricted Delivery (instead of Insurance, alone)
    • Return Receipt
    • Electronic Return Receipt
  • Adult Signature Required and Adult Signature Restricted Delivery are available for insured Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, and Parcel Select Ground.
  • USPS Tracking®
  • Hold for Pickup
  • Signature Confirmation™ (for items insured for $500 or less)
  • Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery (for items insured for $500 or more)

 

Payment

  • The fee and postage may be paid with postage stamps, meter stamps, or permit imprints.


Things to Keep in Mind When Purchasing Insurance:

  • Because NO record is kept by the mailing Post Office facility, the sender needs to keep the receipt for making a claim.
  • Insurance may be purchased for perishable items. However, the claim will not be paid if the item is spoiled.
  • Postage (but not the insurance fee) may be refunded in a claim if the insured article is lost.
  • Cash: When a claim is filed, money is replaced at the insured value
    • After proof of value is shown (if the actual value was less than the insured amount, then only the actual value is paid) and
    • After the claim process is completed
      • Important:  Customers sending a significant amount of cash should verify with the local office what is considered valid proof of value before mailing the item. Customers should also verify that it is packaged securely enough to protect a high value item from being harmed during regular mail processing.
    • More information on insuring cash and checks is available
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TitleDomestic Claims - The Basics
URL NameDomestic-Claims-The-Basics

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