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Insurance is a odd thing and quite complex yet easy.
I must start out saying that I charge $2.00 per $50 for my insurance. That is 40 cents more than the post office and for the work I do, It should actually should be more because it is a real pain and I HATE the post office's policies. I charge that also because I cover my own claims and once I get the item back, I refund immediately (or reship) and do not wait on the "system". I do cover things the same way each shipper does, so to tell you about insurance see below. (Please note: I refuse to insure International claims because they are NOT going to be covered and if my international bidders want insurance, they must ship express because it is included and thankfully, I have only had to loose $100 in one transaction to learn that lesson!)
1) First, There is Fed Ex and UPS that automatically cover the first 100 of insurance. If the item is lost, there are no questions after they try to trace the package and they refund rather quickly. (I do have a Fed Ex account, but have no experience with damages, thus this is based solely on UPS findings) Within 3 weeks tops (of course there are variables such as how fast the shipper files the claim, etc) but they also refund the postage. HOWEVER, if the package is damaged, they normally inspect it to see how it was packaged. If it is within their guidelines (Shippers should kow what the guidelines are), then they pay rather quickly as well. If they are going to pick up or inspect the package, they do it within 5 business days. Most times they automatically pay claims that are under $100 unless you are like me and they have them on probation. They say my claim rate is too high. I have one out of 175 packages broken! Now since I know I am on probation, and I know they are going to insepect each package, I ALWAYS overpack, and they have never denied me a claim. I have been shipping for about 10 years now and know how to pack! LOL Even though my UPS is automatically covered, if my customer is claiming damage and they have paid the extra insurance (Yes they do sometimes pay when not required), I refund them or reship as soon as I have been informed that the item is on its way back to me. I do not make them wait. In these respects, their money is a great value. I personally attempt to sell things that are less to ship UPS for several reasons, but isurance is a major factor and their coverage and superior customer service is of great value to me. Their delivery dates are guaranteed (other than during busy seasons, wrong addresses or weather) and your shipping is refunded if requested if it is not delivered when it says it should be.
Then there is the coverage and issues of the great United States Post Office, better known as USPS. In cases where an item is going to to Alaska or HI and the item is more than I personally want to cover, then I will put the insurance on it, but I do not have much faith in their pay out as it rests mainly on the receiver to do a lot of work, which most are not prepared to do. The receiver has to take the package, all packaging and proove the claim in contrast to UPS picking up the item and inspecting
it. They do NOT guarantee any delivery date, their tracking system is rarely updated and they do not cover postage on damaged items! I try very hard to sway my customers away from this type of shipping unless the differences are so much that it is unfair for me to require UPS which is the case in International, PR, APO, AK and HI. Your chances of getting your item covered are very low, but possible if you come unglued on them and be prepared to wait at least 6 months for payment. Since I cover any insured items in the US, I just refund the money, but they need to proove (pictures, etc) that the item was damaged and I do not cover postage since the PO does not either.
Now my personal opinion on insurance. I have lost more money on items that were not insured because people will put in a claim with paypal such as not as described and even though my auctions clearly state that items are not covered without insurance, they have always won. I do not think that is at all fair to the seller and so far it is my only complaint with paypal. I am sure that in putting this in this letter, there will be those of you that will take advantage of this against your seller. Please do not do this because most of us sellers are just small time and cannot afford when you do this. I have had buyers tell me something was defective when they received it and I know it was working when it left my home. It was not insured, but I charge her shipping only for a replacement and she did not have to return the other one. When she got that one, she tried to convince me that that one was not working either and she did not want to pay shipping again. Mind you, this was a $25 item that she paid $10 for and my handling fee was only $1.00. I offered her a refund including original shipping if she would return the items. Haven't quite figured out why I never heard from her again! LOL. Some will try anything.
Basically to summerize what I have just written is on most items, UPS is a much better choice and the only thing the seller looses out on is their handling fee which covers any costs for supplies and / or labor. You are guaranteed to get it when they say (less the restrictions), and the insurance covers postage. UPS does have its drawbacks in that it normally is slower than what the post office usually is (Although I have had a priority take 3 weeks to go 1500 mi, an overnight take a week and an international take 6 mo), they are harder on their handling and sometimes requires signatures even if we do not request one (now required on items of a value of over $250 on any carrier). Other than that, basically what you are insuring is your seller and their packaging abilities. On my purchases, I only purchase insurance on items that I cannot afford to loose if it does get lost in the system, which happens more than I would like to believe. Before leaving bad star ratings for your seller for shipping time, check when you paid, the time of day and also the date it was shipped on the postmark. Give them a day to get it wrapped and a day for good measure, then think of lowering the star, but slow shipping is usually due to the post office and not the seller.