If you’re moving house, chances are you may be using a moving company to help out with some, if not all, of the moving process. Generally, movers are trustworthy and reliable, but life is unpredictable, and sometimes this means that your possessions can get damaged, whether in the truck or on the way to and from your home. You’re not out of luck completely, though, if this happens to you, since you can make claims against a moving company for damages to your personal belongings. The following is an overview of how to do this, but keep in mind that some details could vary.
Know what to expect if your possessions are damaged
Step 1: Keep all documentation. If you are using a moving company, then you need to be sure to keep all documentation you receive from the company.
This should include receipts, contracts, billing statements, emails, and other communication details. These provide you with valuable information about dates and times, what you are moving, and any sort of extra coverages you may have purchased. If things go well, you can store them away and never have to look at them again - but if something breaks and you need to file a claim, then you are going to need this information, so plan ahead.
Step 2: Take pictures of damage. When you find an item or set of items that have been damaged in the move, you should take a picture of the damage as soon as you can.
This will provide visual documentation so that the moving company is more likely to believe you. Get pictures from a variety of angles, and it might be a good idea, if you are extremely diligent, to take pictures of your possessions before they get moved. Obviously, this is not going to be worth it for, say, a $5 item, but if you have anything that is particularly valuable, you may want to do this to provide a “before” and “after” viewpoint.
Step 3: Record the type and cost of the damage. In addition to pictures of the damage, you should note what kind of damage occurred and what the cost of it is.
The clearest way to document this would be to consult any receipts you may have.
File the claim with the moving company
Once you are prepared to make a claim, it is a fairly straightforward process.
Step 1: Submit the claim. There is probably a prescribed way to do this, so look in your contract or the mover’s website to see if it gives you any specific directions.
You could have to submit a form online or mail some documentation. If you have to mail anything, get tracking numbers on it so that you stay in the loop on receiving dates, and also so that you can be sure the moving company gets it.
Once you have followed the appropriate avenues and filed the claim, wait 30 days for acknowledgement of your claim.
Step 2: Wait for a settlement. You should then find out, within about 4 months, if the moving company is accepting or denying your claim.
You may also get a partial settlement, in which case the moving company does not pay the full cost of replacing an item but will cover some of it.
Step 3: Decide if you want to proceed to small claims court. Depending on if you are happy or not with the settlement, you may want to proceed to small claims court if the claim was denied.
This process will get a bit more involved, consuming a lot of time and energy, so before you fully commit to this route, determine if it is really worth all the hassle; if it is, then go for it. Sometimes, it can get lost in the long list of things like changing your address, adjusting car insurance policies, and all the other things to think about when you’re in the middle of a major move.
Making a claim against a moving company for damages sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. The truth is that claims are made all the time, and you are not doing something extraordinary. If you keep your paperwork and your cool, you should be able to get the issue resolved without causing yourself too much stress.