When hired, a moving company takes responsibility for the safe arrival of your goods. That responsibility, however, requires you to file a proper claim and, even then, only extends as far as the amount of available insurance. If your belongings are damaged during your move, there are several actions you should take to recover the cost of your items.
A Moving Company’s Liability
Moving companies are required to have a dispute resolution process and inform customers of the procedure. Interstate movers are required to abide by the laws of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the US Department of Transportation. An interstate moving company may also be governed by state laws. Intrastate moving companies would be regulated solely by the state.
However, a moving company’s liability only extends as far as the insurance you have purchased. Often, this coverage is referred to as “valuation,” and consists of three different types: declared value in which the value of your possessions is based on the weight of your shipment multiplied by a specified amount per pound, assessed value which is based on the cost of the item, and full value protection which will pay for repair or replacement. Declared value coverage is usually offered at no cost to customers. In full value protection, a deductible typically applies.
The type of valuation the company offers will affect the amount you recover. Before beginning your claim, therefore, you must know what type is provided. If, for example, the declared value of your shipment was $10,000, the company’s maximum liability is limited to $10,000.
Record the Damage
To make a claim against the moving company, you are going to need evidence of the damage. Take pictures of and make notes about damaged furniture and belongings. When making your claim, you will most likely need to provide this information to the company to prove the damage. Additionally, if possible, you should keep all damaged items in your possession, as it is not uncommon for the company to inspect claimed items.
Put the Company on Notice and Obtain the Proper Forms
The first step to recovering for your damaged goods is to notify the company that your goods were damaged during the move and that you intend to make a claim for their partial or full value, depending on the extent of their damage. At this time, you should also ask about the company’s requirements to make a claim and request any forms you will need to submit. Some companies require a personal inspection of damaged goods as a part of the claim process. If so, you should schedule this inspection at this time.
File Your Claim
Your claim must be filed within 9 months of your move. However, do not wait until the very end of the time limit, as at that time the move will be fresher in the movers mind and it will be less likely that paperwork will have been lost.
Wait for a Response
The moving company must acknowledge they have received your claim within 30 days of its filing. The claim must be resolved either by a payment or denial within 120 days. After the expiration of the 120 days, if you have still not received a response, report the company to the state, Better Business Bureau or the FMCSA, whichever applies. Oftentimes, this will prompt the company to handle the resolution as soon as possible for fear of losing their license.