So there was a USPS package I was supposed to have gotten on Sept 1, per Informed Delivery. I waited several more business days, just in case, and then went to the post office to ask about it and they couldn't find it. So I filed an insurance claim against USPS for it.

Yesterday I got the package. Today I got the check for my insurance claim.

So now I don't know what to do with the check.

Any ideas?

  • Did you pay extra for guaranteed or express delivery such that you were expecting it on Sept 1 exactly?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 14:13

3 Answers 3


USPS will most likely expect to be re-paid, from USPS FAQ:

What is the process to repay the Postal Service when a claim has been paid but the package was later delivered?
If you receive a package after being paid for the claim, you must reimburse the Postal Service the full amount that was paid. However, if you haven’t yet cashed the check, you can return the check to a local Post Office.

If the item has depreciated in value or been damaged then you should contest their request to be repaid in full since doing so would leave you financially harmed by their failure.

  • 5
    Strictly speaking, the OP's scenario was not about "receive a package after being paid" Commented Oct 2, 2022 at 15:21
  • 31
    @HagenvonEitzen They issued payment then the item was received, and after that the payment was received. The exact timing is typically immaterial.
    – Hart CO
    Commented Oct 2, 2022 at 15:52
  • 1
    @HagenvonEitzen - Actually, the timing is important. The payment was due because the package was not received by September 1st. It is at the OP's discretion to decide if the damage was subsequently reduced and so if a partial repayment is due.
    – Paul Smith
    Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 22:24

The situation occurs all the time. It doesn't matter that the post office was involved

Something is lost, stolen or destroyed. A check is written. The item is found, returned, or it turns out it survived. The insurance company is now the owner of the item. They essentially bought the item.

You can't keep both the item and the check. If the item has sentimental value, or if it unique then you want to return the funds and keep the item. If it isn't unique or sentimental then you probably want to keep the check, especially if you already used the funds to replace the item. You don't need two dishwashers. Of course the insurance company generally doesn't want the item either.

  • 18
    Is there a contractual provision that specifies transfer-of-ownership upon accepting a check? Without checking, I'd have guessed that it may've been more of a compensation-for-damages thing than a you-lose-it-you-buy-it thing.
    – Nat
    Commented Oct 2, 2022 at 15:09
  • 6
    "It doesn't matter that the post office is involved" isn't a safe assumption to make (there are a lot of laws relating specifically to the postal service, something that would be a civil matter elsewhere might well be a criminal matter here). In any case, though "The insurance company is now the owner of the item" is a feature of some but not all insurance contracts, and I can't think of any insurance contracts which would allow the insured to choose one or the other. If that applies to USPS' insurance contract, you could improve the answer by adding references for that.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 11:20
  • 1
    Here is a quote from one auto insurance company: progressive.com/answers/car-stolen-then-recovered :What happens if my car is recovered after the claim has been paid? If the claim has already been paid, then your insurance company owns the vehicle. ...If you haven't bought a new vehicle, your insurance company may offer you the option to buy back the car. The exact procedure varies from company to company, so it's best to check with your insurer about what your options are." Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 12:31
  • 8
    "Here is a quote from one auto insurance company" This has nothing to do with auto insurance, or that company or it's contracts. Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 13:12

You do not owe the Post Office your time and effort to make up for their mistakes. Depending on the value of the item and the payout made, there's a good chance the time you would have to spend "correcting" this should be valued a lot higher that the payment. If they both delivered the item and paid out an insurance claim, they made a mistake and they need to do the work of correcting that, if they care about it.

Keep the money set aside to return if they come asking for it up to whatever the statute of limitations for a claim against you would be, and return it if they contact you with a simple procedure to do this. Otherwise, don't burden yourself with it. You have better things to do with your time. If you haven't cashed/deposited the check, you might just be able to refrain from doing so, but then it will probably end up getting handled as unclaimed property belonging to you many years down the line.

  • 2
    @wizzwizz4: If they believe they're owed money they'll come asking for it. If they don't, it's not OP's problem. This answer is not based on the text of the USPS website just basic principles of not wasting your own time and resources trying to get someone else to realize you own them money when they can do it themselves. Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 17:40
  • 4
    @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE: For the IRS (yes, not 100% comparable to the USPS), this is a dangerous belief. If they issue you a refund in error and later ask for it back, they will also ask for interest. irs.gov/taxtopics/tc161 Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 23:06
  • 2
    @SethRobertson: Not comparable and also not terribly relevant. Even if they were rightly owed an additional few cents or few dollars in interest, it's no big deal. Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 23:31
  • 3
    I love how every time I write an answer like this on Money and similar SE sites, I get a bunch of comments and downvotes from dudes simping for the party with vastly more money and power who does not even care if they recover the money. Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 13:51
  • 3
    The problem here is that the law contradicts you. And standards and practices in the insurance industry say the same thing: if you collect a payout and then recover the insured item, you must give back the payout. Even setting those aside, time and trouble involved in resolving a dispute is generally not collectible. As such, your proposal amounts to fraud and I think the postal code says exactly that. Don't advise people to commit fraud (without telling them that is exactly what they are doing). I sometimes DO tell people to violate the electrical code, but I warn and justify that. Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 3:57

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