Trucking companies, like yours, have a lot going on. That’s probably an understatement. It’s your job to keep American business and international commerce moving, after all. That’s quite a burden to shoulder.
Your company handles all kinds of shipments each month. From long-haul loads taking you out of state to short-mile shipments bound for a nearby destination, there’s no telling where your next load will take you.
Keeping your truck(s) moving is the only way you make money. And unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can get in your way as you strive to do so. Delayed payments for your delivered loads or inaccurate freight specifications are just two examples of issues that can hurt your efficiency and profitability.
Misinterpreting the rate confirmations you receive can create these problems and others like them. That’s why it’s so important to thoroughly analyze every rate confirmation you receive.
Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) operates a freight brokerage, ATS Logistics Services, Inc. Every carrier our brokerage tenders freight to receives a rate confirmation via email to review and sign.
These are really important documents as they set the stage for the execution of each shipment. To keep your business on track, you need to treat every rate confirmation with care —- and never sign one without reviewing it first.
In this article, you’ll learn what a rate confirmation is, what information is typically included in them and what you should analyze yours for.
What is a Rate Confirmation?
A rate confirmation is a document presented by a shipper/broker to a carrier, outlining the specifics of a shipment. Rate confirmations, also called rate agreements or load confirmations, should list all necessary load information including:
- The agreed rate of pay
- The method and process of payment
- Pertinent cargo details:
- Type of commodity
- Dimensions (weight, length, width, height)
- Cargo insurance required
- Pick-up and delivery addresses and their hours of operation
- Any special instructions:
- Freight handling
- Final mile directions for each location
- Where to park
- Documentation required to access pick-up/drop-off
- Securement requirements
- The type of equipment requested for pick-up
- The contact information for all parties
Rate confirmations essentially function as individual contracts for each shipment. They don’t trump the carrier-broker contract you signed during onboarding. However, it’s still really important to pay attention to what you’re signing before you take action on a rate confirmation.
Why Analyze Your Rate Confirmations?
Your company probably signs more than one rate confirmation every week. That’s why it can be really easy to just let them float by without registering the information on them. This can be damaging for several reasons. That said, here are the top three reasons you need to analyze every confirmation document before you sign it:
- To confirm key cargo details
- To ensure you’re correctly paid
- To protect yourself against liability
1) To Confirm Key Cargo Details
Significant issues can occur if you show up to a pick-up appointment and the cargo is different — in some way —- from what you anticipated. For example, freight that’s taller than you originally thought could require permits you didn’t acquire. This can cause delays. Or, maybe you’ll miss key securement recommendations and fail to bring the right number of straps. That could be equally disruptive.
You need all of the information to efficiently and safely execute a shipment. The more information you have, the better off you’ll be.
Make sure to analyze and verify the cargo dimensions, cargo type and special instructions section of your rate confirmations so you know what you’re getting into and to verify they match the shipment you originally agreed to haul.
2) To Ensure You’re Correctly Paid
Analyzing your rate confirmation helps to make sure you fully understand the payment terms you’re agreeing to. This is a great way to verify the payout is what you expect. Analyze your rate confirmation to make sure the amount of money you’ll be paid is correct. You don’t want to accidentally agree to haul cargo for less than you anticipated.. Once you sign this document, there’s no going back.
3) Protects Carriers Against Liability
Make sure key details are correct on your rate confirmation before you sign it to avoid liability issues. If the shipment goes awry because you didn’t know where to go, didn’t understand the cargo or arrived without the correct trailer type, you could be blamed — especially if you signed an accurate rate confirmation.
Make sure you fully understand even the most minute details of the load before returning its rate confirmation.
3 Key Things to Examine in Your Rate Confirmations
While your company should pay attention to every document it signs, rate confirmations demand meticulous inspection. That said, you probably don’t have a contract or legal department, so the job falls to you. With that in mind, here are three of the sections that might have confusing/incorrect information you’ll want to verify.
1) Freight dimensions, special instructions and load details
These are key to ensuring you fully understand the cargo you’ll be hauling and help you show up prepared. If there’s missing information here, ask questions before signing your load confirmation.
2) Cargo value and insurance requirement information
This is an easy section to overlook. However, you need to have an adequate amount of cargo insurance for every load you move. If the documents you receive don’t have a number listed for this, ask for clarification.
3) Contact information and addresses
To do your job well, you need to know how to contact your broker/customer. You also need to know where you’ll be picking freight up and hauling it. Your rate confirmation should have detailed contact information for the issuing company (email address, phone number, hours of operation, etc.). Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to these people with location-specific questions. Make sure you’re comfortable before signing them.
Become a More Efficient Trucking Company
You have a lot going on. Whether you operate one truck or oversee many, there are a lot of things on your plate every day. With so much in your atmosphere, it’s understandable if your rate confirmations sometimes get signed without too much care.
Doing this isn’t risk-free though; you could end up losing out on money or being held liable when a significant delay (or other issue) occurs.
That’s why you’ll want to take precautions going forward. Make sure to examine your rate confirmations to make sure all of the information on them checks out.
Here at ATS Logistics, we’re constantly investing in new technologies and systems to help our carriers do their jobs more efficiently. ATS FreightMatch, our mobile load board, is just one of these technologies.