Moving can be an exciting and overwhelming experience. Whether you’re moving locally or long-distance, there are a lot of things to consider and manage during the process. One of the biggest concerns is handling losses or damage during a move. No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen, and items can get lost or damaged. However, with the right preparation and approach, you can minimize the risk of loss or damage and handle it effectively if it does occur.
According to the report, there were 4,100 moving fraud complaints filed in 2017 alone, and counting. If you are getting scammed by a moving company, continue reading below in order to avoid scams and learn how to file a claim against a fraudulent moving company.
Upon delivery of your shipment, inspect everything while the driver is still there if possible. Note any items that are missing, broken or visually damaged on the bill of lading form before signing. This serves as your notice to the moving company that you are making an official claim for those lost or harmed items right away. Get the driver’s contact information too in case more details are needed later on.
Submit a detailed, signed inventory list of the missing, broken or damaged property within 9 months from delivery date to either your moving company directly or using the Department of Transportation claim form included in your Moving Guide. Describe each item claimed thoroughly along with date and costs estimates for replacement or repair. Attach photos if applicable to support your claim.
The mover will acknowledge receiving your filed claim and may need to analyze and devalue the maximum payout based on the weight and nature of the articles claimed. This fair market value they determine for settlement may be different than your original purchase price. Consider accepting a lower devaluation or counter with proper documentation and receipts when reasonable.
Your mover has 60 days to investigate your filed claim and may need to contact you to arrange an inspection of the damaged items or follow up on details of what transpired during transit. Make sure to promptly respond to inquiries and schedule visits to avoid delaying reimbursement processing timeframes. Provide any receipts, estimates or photos requested to help substantiate your monetary loss claim.
Once the claim investigation concludes, the mover will either make you a reimbursement offer to settle fully or partially. If the proposed settlement seems unfairly low compared to documented expenses, you can appeal their decision within 9 months of delivery through mediation. The American Moving and Storage Association provides binding arbitration services to help navigate disputes between shippers and movers.
Upon acceptance of any settlement agreement proposed by your mover or mediated by AMAS arbitration, expect to receive full reimbursement for agreed upon damages and losses within 60 days. If issues persist, you may need to contact your local consumer protection agencies, file a complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or consider pursuing further legal action through small claims court as a last resort to recover losses.
To maximize your chances of success at receiving reimbursement for lost or damaged goods from movers, documentation is key throughout the entire claims process:
Settlement offers from movers are often less than full retail prices when considering the following circumstances:
My advice is to be reasonable, keep receipts and accept small claims decisions gracefully whenever possible to maintain goodwill with movers for future reference. Litigation should always remain an last resort option.
While preparation unfortunately can’t eliminate all risks, taking proactive steps like these can better position you to file strong moving damage claims promptly if needed:
With diligent organization, paperwork and readily available evidence, the claims procedure stands the best shot at achieving maximum reimbursement for any moving mishaps in a reasonable manner without needing lengthy mediations or lawsuits.
Consider these steps to avoid getting scammed by a moving company.
A simple Google search is not enough! There are a lot of fake reviews out there that make the fake company look good. Go ahead to Yelp or the Better Business Bureau website, see if there are customer complaints, and cases against the company, and see if there are service ratings.
Ask for quotations or estimates, and professional moving companies will send you personnel for on-site inspections. By this, you have a much clearer idea of cost so you can set your proper budget to stick with. They are obligated to give you a document “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”.
Ask everything you need to know, ask them if it’s calculated by volume or weight. Do they have a worker to do the packing or unloading of your belongings? If possible do it by yourself to lessen your expenses. Avoid those hidden fees ask them if there is an additional fee for the driver or packing materials. ( Also, Read Why It Is Very Important to Ask for Moving Quotes )
Upon receiving the written estimation, review it thoroughly. If all goes well and you find the best interstate movers, Prepare for your next move!