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Small Tarps / No Tarps


You requested that your shipment be protected by tarps.

The truck has arrived for loading, but

  • The driver has no tarps; or,
  • The driver has tarps, but they are too small to cover your shipment; or,
  • The driver has tarps, but does not want to put them on.

    CAUTION: If you have a shipment that requires tarps, it is always good practice to check with the driver before starting loading, to ensure that the driver brought with him the required tarps, of the required size.

    Sometimes a driver will tell you he will put the tarps on when he gets back to his yard, or (if your shipment is LTL) after he has loaded the next shipment, or before he goes out of the highway. Do not accept this excuse for not tarping your shipment while it is still in your yard, even if it is a bright sunny day.

    The tarps are there to protect your freight – you want the protection.

    If you allow the shipment to leave your facility without tarps, you are putting your shipment in jeopardy:

    • If loose gravel in a construction zone is kicked up by traffic, your un-tarped freight has no protection;
    • If standing water on the roadway is splashed up, your un-tarped freight has no protection;
    • It may be sunny where you are, but it may be raining half an hour away on the way to the carrier’s yard, and your un-tarped freight has no protection;
    • The driver may have no intention of ever tarping your freight, not after the next pick-up, not back at his yard, and not before the truck goes out on the highway, so your freight is never protected.

      Remember, if your freight requires the protection of tarping, but you allow the freight to leave without tarping, then you will have unintentionally acquiesced to allowing the freight to be carried without the protection of tarps for its entire trip. In the event of en-route damage that can be linked to the absence of protection, you will have severely impaired your ability to make a successful damage claim.


  1. STOP: If you have not yet loaded the truck, do not load the truck.
    If you have loaded the truck, do no give the driver the paperwork for the shipment, and do not let the driver leave before the tarp problem has been resolved.
  2. Call us. If you have specified tarps for your shipment, then we have specified tarps for your shipment, and if you have told us that you need oversized tarps (a.k.a., lumber tarps), then we have specified over-sized tarps.
  3. We ask you to confirm the actual size of your shipment, which will allow us to confirm the actual size of the required tarps.
  4. We will speak with the carrier to determine why there are no tarps, or too-small tarps, or why the driver does not want to use the tarps, and what options the carrier has to solve the problem.
  5. If you have not yet loaded the truck, we will recommend that you refuse the truck, so that it can leave, get proper tarps, and return. If the truck is already loaded, then we recommend that the carrier be given the option of having tarps brought to your facility, or having the freight unloaded.
  6. If you choose to reject the truck or if the carrier refuses to obtain proper tarps on-site, we will advise the carrier that the truck will be rejected, with no fees chargeable. We will then source a new truck for you.
  7. If the carrier cannot have the load tarped, we will, with your permission, reject the truck, and source a new truck for you.
  8. If you did not specify tarps for your shipment, or if you provided incorrect dimensions for tarping, then obtaining and using the tarps – or rejecting the truck if the necessary tarps are not available to the truck – will generate extra charges. These extra charges will include time, mileage, and perhaps truck ordered, not used fees.


Mis-communication or in-attentiveness.

There are standard tarp sizes, and a full range of other sizes available in the tarp market:

  • “Steel” tarps are designed to fully cover shipments that are no taller than 4 feet.
  • “Lumber” tarps are designed to fully cover shipments that are up to 8 feet tall, but are difficult to install on shorter shipments.
  • “Machinery” tarps come in a range of sizes, for shipment heights from 2 feet to 6 feet.
  • More specialized tarps and tarps sizes are also available for specific applications, such as coils.

Most trucks carry either steel or machinery tarps, so they are always prepared to handle mid-sized shipments. The ‘small tarp’ problem usually occurs for shipments in excess of 6 feet tall, for which lumber tarps are required. Specifying the shipment dimensions, particularly its height, in advance is very important in the case of tarped shipments.


Normally, there is no impact beyond having the driver’s dispatcher insist that the shipment be tarped before it leaves your yard. If tarps have to be brought to your yard, that can take 2 – 3 hours.

On rare occasions, we have to source a replacement truck. Depending on the time of day and the availability and proximity of other trucks, this may or may not delay your shipment pick-up until the next day, which in turn may or may not affect your shipment delivery date – we will let you know.

Usually, the tarps the driver has, or are able to quickly obtain, are found to, in fact, be sufficient, and the driver tarps the freight.