You finally arrived in your new place and started unpacking your stuff, but you found some damaged stuff. What should you do?
If you move on your own and do not have a moving insurance, there’s nothing much you can do but to accept it and perhaps look for a replacement. On the other hand, if you hire professional movers, you can still file a claim. This is one of the advantages of enlisting licensed and insured movers for your relocation.
Movers are experienced and well-equipped to ensure the safety of your belongings. They take extra precautions to avoid damaging your valuables during the hauling and transport. But even with a well-planned move and the best workers, accidents can happen.
Damage can result from improper packing or handling, or an accident, such as dropping an item. And during transport, boxes can move around if not properly secured and contents may shift causing fragile items to tumble and get damaged.
If some of your items were damaged during the move, there are some things you need to do to file a successful claim.
Finding your valuables damaged during the move can be frustrating or even infuriating, but you should not lose your cool. Yelling at the movers won’t result in anything good. Stay calm and review your contract, particularly how to file a claim.
Know the extent of damage
Identify which items have been damaged and determine the extent of the damage. Check your glassware, ceramics, furniture, and appliances for cracks, breakages, scratches, and dents.
If you find broken items in a box, inspect the other items nearby as well. Getting a clear picture of the extent of damages is important in preparing the claim.
Once all damaged belongings have been identified, take detailed, close-up photos of each item. This will serve as evidence for your claim and provide a clear picture of the damages. If you have photos of the original condition of the item before the move, this would also be very useful. Store broken items and their components in a properly labeled box. The movers might look for this when they verify the claim.
Reputable professional movers have a mechanism for resolving disputes and claims from customers. Typically, this information can be found in the contract that you signed with them. Review the contract to know more about the specific redress process of the company. This highlights the importance of reviewing the contract before the move.
Just in case the movers refuse your claim, you need to be prepared with documentation of all your interactions such as emails, SMS messages, and other forms of communications.
You should also prepare the inventory of items or bills of lading to support your claim. Make sure that the damaged valuables are included in the list.
Know more about your insurance
The federal law mandates interstate movers to provide two liability insurance options: full value protection and released value. These insurance policies cover theft, loss, or damage due to the moving process. Learn more about the specifics of the coverage in your moving contract before filing a claim. Insurance policies come in terms of the declared value of the items, the weight of the shipment, and the assessed value of the items.
Some moving companies work with a third-party insurance provider and your claim may be endorsed to them.
File a claim
Make sure to file the claim within the required time limits, usually within nine of the moving date. Request a claims form, fill it out, and send it back to them for review. Include supporting documents such as a copy of the contract, receipt, photos of damaged items, bill of lading, and other documents that may be requested from you.
You can expect an acknowledgment within 30 days and a resolution within three to six months. The moving company or insurer may investigate your claim to validate the damages and assess the value. After the claim is verified, they may either approve or deny your request.
Some movers might attempt to settle the claims on the spot. However, you should turn this down so you can properly assess the extent and value of the damage. Follow their claims mechanism and file a written claim to ensure everything is well documented.
If the moving company has not taken responsibility for the damaged items, you can file a complaint to the Better Business Bureau or FMCSA. Alternatively, you can also file a lawsuit in a small claims court if the movers are uncooperative, deny your claim, or offer undue compensation for the damages. The court can provide a fair judgment into your case. This makes it important to keep detailed documentation of the damages and your moving contract.