How to Successfully File an Insurance Claim with USPS

Some links below are from our sponsors. Here’s how we make money.

Advertiser Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone. This article may contain links from our advertisers. For more information, please see our Advertising Policy.

File insurance claim with USPSHave you ever had to file an insurance claim with USPS?
I recently bought a relatively expensive acoustic-electric guitar on eBay. I’m not a fan of buying something as personal as an acoustic guitar without having played it first. But I had been in the market for several months, and I was frustrated because I wasn’t able to find the guitar I was looking for at…

I recently bought a relatively expensive acoustic-electric guitar on eBay. I’m not a fan of buying something as personal as an acoustic guitar without having played it first. But I had been in the market for several months, and I was frustrated because I wasn’t able to find the guitar I was looking for at a price I was willing to pay.

So I took a leap of faith and bought a guitar based on a few pictures and a couple of emails with the owner. The deal looked good, so I pulled the trigger (it was a buy-it-now deal, not a traditional auction).

I was excited to receive the guitar and immediately unpacked it to check it out. (The weather and humidity were both moderate, which is important for acoustic guitars since extreme temperatures or humidity can damage solid wood.

If the weather were very hot, cold, or humid, I would have left the guitar in the box overnight before opening it, so the temperature and humidity would have a chance to acclimate).

The guitar looked nice on the first inspection—it was a little dirty, and the strings were rusty, but those were minor issues, even on a thousand dollar guitar. Strings can be changed, and guitars can be cleaned and polished. The guitar was reasonably in tune, so I strummed it for a while, then decided to really give it the once-over.

That was when I noticed some cracks where the binding attaches to the top and bottom of the guitar and an inch long crack above the input jack on the base of the guitar. And I was terribly disappointed.

I immediately contacted the seller via eBay to verify the guitar didn’t have those issues when he mailed it and to verify he insured the guitar when he shipped it. The seller verified both issues. The guitar was well-packaged when I received it, so it looks like it was up to me to file an insurance claim with the US Postal Service to rectify the issue.

I was ready for a fight, and a bureaucratic nightmare. Thankfully, the process was relatively quick and easy. And I received a check from the US Postal Service in the amount of the anticipated repairs, and the cost of the shipping. I’ll walk you through the process of how I made the claim.


Filing an Insurance Claim with USPS

Filing a claim is pretty easy, especially if you do it online, which is the preferred method according to the Post Office worker I spoke with. He said online claims are processed more quickly and accurately than paper claims filed at the Post Office, or through the mail.

Here are the items you will need to file your claim, with more details below:

  • Original packaging
  • Estimate of Repair Cost
  • Evidence of Value
  • Official Claim form (when not filing online)
  • Original mailing receipt and proof of insurance, if available

Keep all your packaging, including the outer box, packing material, etc. You will need to bring this to a US Post Office to have the Post Office workers inspect the box and shipping material for damage and the ensure the item was adequately packed. In my case, the guitar was shipped in a heavy duty cardboard box designed specifically for shipping guitars (it was actually the same box used by the manufacturer of my guitar, so it was quite sturdy). In addition, the guitar was shipped inside a hard shell case, and the hard case was wrapped with bubble wrap and placed inside the large shipping box. It was adequately packaged.

After I entered my insurance claim, the USPS sent me a letter instructing me to take the letter with my claim number and the original shipping materials to a US Post Office so they could inspect the shipping materials. There was some obvious damage to the box the guitar was shipped in. It looked like it had been dropped on one corner.

Get a professional estimate of the repair costs. My guitar is a Taylor 414ce, so I took it to an authorized Taylor repair shop to get a professional estimate on the repairs. Thankfully, there was no major structural damage to my guitar. It turns out the small cracks on the binding were primarily cosmetic in nature, though the luthier recommended filling and sealing the cracks to prevent further separation or damage.

The cracks most likely happened when the guitar was dropped or slammed into something. In addition to the cracks, the action was knocked out of alignment, making the guitar more difficult to play. Thankfully, that too was a relatively minor fix. The repair estimate to fix the cracks and perform a full set up was only $125, which under the circumstances, was much less than my initial fear. The luthier gave me a written estimate, which I used to place my claim with the US Postal Service.

Provide proof of the value of the item. A professional repair estimate is only half the battle, as the USPS will only compensate you up to the value of the item. In other words, they won’t pay you $500 for repairs if the item is only worth $100. In my case, I simply copied the eBay purchase receipt and uploaded that when I filed my claim. Since this was a new purchase, the receipt was the only proof of value The USPS required.

Other valid ways to prove value include an “invoice or bill of sale, a cost statement for replacing Express Mail service documents, a copy of the canceled check, a copy of the money order receipt, a copy of the credit card billing statement, or a final or complete transaction sheet indicating the amount deducted from an Internet account.” The USPS insurance claim system also has a way to enter information for items purchased in online auctions. In my situation, I stated the guitar was purchased through eBay and gave the listing number, along with a copy of the receipt.

Official Claim Form vs. filing online. The Post Office worker I spoke with recommended filing online, which worked well for me. The form to file a claim manually is PS Form 1000, Domestic or International Claim. You can obtain a  form at any Post Office location, or download it online.

The benefit of filing online is that you can upload documents and images directly to your claim and come back to your claim and make adjustments throughout the process. Filing a paper form means you need to have print outs of images and files and there is a longer lag time between submitting documentation, and the Post Office processing it.

Original Mailing Receipt and/or Proof of Insurance. You may or may not have this, depending if you were the sender or recipient. I was the recipient of the item, so I didn’t have a copy of the mailing receipt. The item was insured, however, and there was a tracking number on the package, which was enough for the Post Office to verify the item had insurance on it. Always try to get a copy of the actual receipt, just in case. But in my situation, it worked out without having a copy.

Other tips: Always keep a copy of everything for your records. I filed online, which made it easy to upload .jpg and .pdf files. The Post Office may also send you correspondence for your specific claim. Make a copy of that too, just in case. You will also need to create an online account with the US Post Office if you plan on filing your claim online.

It’s nice to have an account anyway, as you can use it to place your mail on hold when you go on vacation, purchase postage, file claims, and more. Finally, when filling out the claim, be sure to specify where the check should be sent. You can have it sent to the sender, the receiver, or to a different address.

How long does an insurance claim take? As I mentioned earlier, I expected this to be a very long and drawn out process. It actually went very smoothly. I did have to get a professional repair estimate which took a couple of days to schedule an appointment. But once I had that, the other documentation was easy. The form took about 20 minutes to fill out online. Then a few days later I received a request to take the shipping container to the closest Post Office with the letter they sent.

They inspected the box, filled out a form, and about a week later I received a check to cover the cost of the repair and the amount of the shipping (I wasn’t expecting a refund on the shipping, but that was nice). From start to finish, the process took about 3 weeks, but I can see situations where it may take more or less time, depending on the situation. Keep in mind, each case is unique, so your mileage may vary.

Overall, I wasn’t expecting to have to file a USPS insurance claim, but I’m happy the situation went as smoothly as it did.

Related Post: How We Manage Our Money on a Daily Basis

Get Instant Access
FREE Weekly Updates! Enter your information to join our mailing list.

Posted In:

About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of Cash Money Life. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started Cash Money Life in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about military money topics and military and veterans benefits at The Military Wallet.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free account here.

Reader Interactions


    Leave A Comment:


    About the comments on this site:

    These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  1. Hector says

    I filed my claim in april of 2019. It is now July of 2019, and the usps has denied my claim twice. I got a package shipped to my home that they damaged and the contents on the inside were bent (it was a pc in a metal case, and it looked like the case had been smashed with a forklift because it was literally bent in half inside the box).

    I covered the cost of insurance at 700 dollars, and requested 650 to cover repairs. I went through the process, gave them receipts of my purchase, evidence from photos, and the people at the local post office also agreed that the package was damaged in shipping when I went to go claim it.

    Months later, and I have nothing to show for it. The firat time they denied the claim, they said it was because the value of the insurance does not match what was requested. I CLEARLY requested less than half. I just got denied a second time right now, and I’m trying to make sense of it. Apparently a letter was sent so I’ll find out in a few days the exact reason.

    I just don’t understand the rationale of insurance if they’re not going to cover when they’re clearly at fault with damages that were above and beyond expectation.

  2. Chase says

    Buyer received the item damaged. It had been stamped “recieved damaged”
    Usps won’t accept damaged packages or even incorrectly packaged items. Buyer told me that he was told nothing they can do and filing a claim is pretty much pointless as they rarely get approved. Of course they received it damaged. Right? So it’s left up up to me to refund the buyer right? No it’s covered and insured. Which makes me wonder why even stamp it damaged? Why even ship a damaged item? What if there were other items inside that were not ruined? Wouldn’t they end up paying more to the customer? The item I shipped was a rod that wss 6 foot 10 inches. It was snapped in half: I’ll post the end results.

Load More Comments

Disclaimer: The content on this site is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not professional financial advice. References to third party products, rates, and offers may change without notice. Please visit the referenced site for current information. We may receive compensation through affiliate or advertising relationships from products mentioned on this site. However, we do not accept compensation for positive reviews; all reviews on this site represent the opinions of the author. Privacy Policy

Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.