Moving can be a tricky process. All of your things will end up being packed, shipped, and handled in one way or another. This means there is a possibility that some of your items may become damaged. Even taking the best precautions, things can still go wrong. Keep this in mind and always look over the shipment to check for any damage or even lost/missing items.
Document Items To Prove Your Case
Sadly, things can get hairy when you do find damage, so it is always best if you have evidence to help prove your claim. This means actually going through your inventory list, taking photos and making detailed descriptions of each item's condition. You should also always insist upon a copy of the moving companies inventory list beforehand.
Yes, this can take the time that you might not have. Therefore, consider limiting this step to only those large, expensive and sentimental items that would cause you a lot of grief or trouble should they end up being damaged during the move.
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Filing Your Claim(s)
If damage occurs, start the claims process as soon as possible. According to the government resource, Protect Your Move, you do have nine months to file, but it is still best to start while things are fresh on your mind.
Start by gathering all the proper documentation. This includes:
- The bill of lading
- Your inventory list
- Original retail invoice of the item
- Repair ticket, invoice, or statement from a repair technician
- Any photos and other documentation you may have as to the pre-moving condition
If this was an intrastate (within your same state) move, contact your state's regulatory agency. If it was an interstate move, start with your moving company.
Hopefully, you were able to convince your moving company as to the problems incurred. In such a case, they will have offered you some form of compensation. If this is not the case and there is disagreement over the extent of damage or how much that damage is actually worth, your next option is using arbitration.
The arbitration process is impartial, so each side will be responsible for proving their own case. This means that you need to be sure to have, once again, all of your documentation and facts in order. In addition to the items discussed above, also have the following available:
- Name and address of the moving company
- Addresses of your old and new homes
- Pickup and delivery dates of your shipment
- Bill of lading number or claim number
- Name of the person in charge of your move
- Total cost of the claim
Of course, you also need to focus very clearly on the items that were damaged. This is the best reason to have photos taken both before and after the move. The biggest reason why a claim may be rejected is due to insufficient evidence. Also, understand that if you packed the item yourself, your moving company isn't liable for any damage.