Is your parcel insured?

You're sending a package to another business or individual. How do you know if your goods are insured?

Most courier companies offer insurance, based on the type of goods and the value. However this is where it starts to get a little more complicated if you reside in South Africa.

There are two legal Acts that need to be complied with by the courier company that is "selling" you the insurance:

Firstly, The FAIS (Financial Advisory & Intermediary Services) Act and secondly the CPA (Consumer Protection Act).

FAIS states that ONLY individuals or companies registered and licensed by the Financial Services Board as a qualified and competent provider may give you insurance advice.

A number of courier companies have "partnered" with existing brokerages or insurance companies to be able to continue providing insurance to clients, to enable them to use the FAIS license rather than obtain their own.

The FAIS Act also states that you are entitled to a copy of the rates payable and the terms and conditions of the policy for the premium you will have to pay. Even more importantly, you are entitled to see a copy of the FAIS licence and have the right to be properly informed and advised of the cover given to you!

In reality, how does the call centre agent booking your parcel rate as qualified to discuss insurance matters? Even more so, how does the online interactive website with its "Insurance?" option rate as qualified when all you do is check the box and insert an amount to value the goods at?

The CPA states that the limit of liability given by the service provider (the courier company in this instance) needs to be clearly disclosed to the customer, in a language that is simple enough for the customer to understand so as to ensure the customer is aware of the implications of having/not having insured their goods in transit.

The risk to you as the customer: Make certain you are aware if the courier company you are using offers insurance, and if you elect to insure your goods that the cover you receive is from a licensed provider and is adequate for your needs!

How to choose the Right Courier Service for your Needs?

With a multitude of different courier services vying for your business it can be a bit daunting trying to determine which one is best suited for your needs, so here's a quick "guide" which may assist you in the process!

There are 3 main points to consider - other than cost of course!

1. What type of user are you going to be? A once off or infrequent user such as an individual sending a parcel or documents. A small business user requiring collections and deliveries a few times a month or a frequent user requiring a courier weekly or even daily?

2. What needs to be collected or delivered? Documents, small parcels, larger parcels, confidential material, temperature sensitive material such as herbal supplements etc.?

3. Urgency - when does it need to be done by? Today? Tomorrow? In a couple of days? Or Right Now?

The answers to the above questions will then dictate the price point for all courier services.

As an individual or infrequent user we would suggest using one of the more well known international companies such as DHL etc. This allows some peace of mind to the process which can be daunting for the uninitiated. Naturally we'd like to tell you to use our services, however we do understand the inherent uncertainty when dealing with a smaller more personal company if it is a once off requirement, hence the recommendation to utilise one the "name brand" companies!

 

If you are a small business and are going to be requiring a courier service somewhat more frequently there are two options generally chosen by most SME's. The first is to purchase a "bulk" of deliveries, typically 20 or more local or national deliveries that you pay for up front & get issued with standardised courier bags by the courier company. These allow you the selected number of deliveries over a time period (typically 12 months from purchase) within which to utilise them, whereafter they expire!

An alternate option is to utilise one of the larger companies, however these typically lack the personal touch even though most of them brag about just how personalised they are! Not many people find a call centre agent "personal" however!

The final option is to find a smaller courier company to partner with your business. By partnering we mean finding a courier service provider who is able to both understand and fulfil your needs and requirements.

 

The same criteria can be used for frequent users, those requiring daily services or sometimes requiring deliveries a few times per day.

There are a number of businesses that utilise the larger courier companies for daily collections at set times, and these arrangements can work very well, however they naturally preclude any type of personal service at all. Collections are done at pre-arranged times & delivery is made the following day. This works well for a business sending documents between branches where urgency is not a major requirement.

 Yet again, where more specialised services are required it is advisable to partner with your courier company. This ensures you have a personalised service where if necessary you can discuss your needs with senior management or a director, rather than an impersonal call centre agent!

 

We'll post a follow up article with more information and some real life examples in a few days, however we hope that this starter article has helped shed some clarity on the issue!

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