No matter how much you plan for a stress-free move, there’s always the risk of something going wrong. That risk is why moving is in and of itself one of the biggest sources of stress for many people. Even the best, most qualified moving company can also end up damaging something. So what do you do if you find yourself in that situation? What happens, and what should your next steps be if movers damage something during your relocation to a new home?
What Happens If Movers Damage Something?
As soon as you notice something is broken or damaged by your move, you should take action as quickly as you can. Notify your movers right away. Use your inventory sheet, and collect evidence as much as you can to compare the current condition of the item to the damage.
Take photos of any damaged items right away.
If anything is damaged, leave it as is. Keep it untouched until someone from the moving company comes to check the situation out. Don’t try to fix what’s broken, and don’t move any boxes.
It’s your movers’ responsibility to keep inventory items protected and wrapped while they’re transporting them. If your moving company is storing anything, they also have to keep it protected during that time.
If your moving company is competent, they should note damage reports on a separate form just for that or on the bill of lading.
The bill of lading or BoL is a legal document. This is what a carrier should issue you, detailing the type of goods, the quantity, and the destination of goods they’re carrying. A bill of lading is also considered a shipment receipt once items are delivered to their destination. No matter how something is being transported, the document has to be with the products that are being shipped or moved.
The bill of lading is legally binding, and it should contain all the details needed to process a shipment accurately. There are three primary legal functions of the bill of lading. It’s a document of title to what’s being shipped, it’s a receipt for the products being moved, and it’s the agreed terms and conditions for how items are going to be transported.
If you’ve let the movers know what happened, and they’ve filled out a form or noted it, make sure you get a copy.
If you tell your movers what you see as far as damage, and they aren’t cooperative, or they don’t appear to be proactively doing anything about it, call the moving company directly.
File a Claim
Once you have pictures and you’ve documented and let the moving company know what happened, your next step will likely be filing an official claim. You might file the claim directly with the moving company or possibly with the insurance provider they get insurance from.
If you have photos, include those in your claim.
For the most part, you may have up to 90 days to make a claim with your moving company.
Most moving companies will have specific insurance coverage for damages. If you act quickly and take photos, you should be compensated for whatever happened.
If you bought third-party moving insurance, you should file a claim with that as well.
The longer you wait to file a claim, the more your chances of reimbursement go down.
If you wait weeks or months to file a claim in any situation, you’re not going to be taken as seriously.
Pursue Your Claim Persistently
After you fill out your paperwork and submit it, it’s the official start of the claims process. Your movers might assign a claims adjustor who will be responsible for investigating your complaint. The moving company should respond to or at least acknowledge your claim within 30 days. They can deny or settle it within six months.
If you think the offer you receive is acceptable, then the process is going to come to an end. If you’re not happy, let the moving company know. They could counteroffer, and if they don’t, or you’re not satisfied, it could become a lawsuit situation.
In many cases, no matter what they owe you, a moving company might try to avoid paying you.
Call them every few days, and make sure you keep records of when you mail your claim. You can also use emails if you need evidence for the court at any point.
If you do have to go through the legal system, such as small claims court, the more evidence you compile, the better your case will be.