As if moving isn’t stressful enough, opening a carton to find broken dishes, dented electronics or damage in any form can ruin your whole day. Just who is responsible for the mess? Chances are it’s your mover’s fault, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. It depends on a few different factors.
Moving companies, at least the reputable ones, have insurance. And that protects both you and them. From the mover’s point of view, it safeguards their business against devastation in the case of a major claim. Accidents happen. For you, it provides reimbursement in the event of loss or damage.
Here’s how to determine whether it’s you or your mover who should pick up the tab when something falls prey to a household move gone bad.
Damage to the Home
When there’s damage to the home, either the one you’re moving to or from, the mover is usually responsible. Heavy furniture, awkward boxes and long days at work can add up to dented drywall or a scuff across the floor.
Before moving day, take photos of your home to record its condition. If the damage is evident during or after the movers arrive, there’ll be no question about who caused it and who should pay to have it repaired.
Caveat: Movers might not be responsible if the damage was unavoidable. For example, a loose stair tread or handrail might cause a mover to trip, drop a nightstand and ultimately create a hole through the drywall.
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Damage to Your Belongings
When movers pick up your prized possessions and relocate them to their new home, you expect to find everything inside just the way that it was packed. The sad truth is, accidents happen. Glasses break, lampshades get bent, and all sorts of mischief can happen inside a moving carton.
Sorting out responsibility for damage to packed items might boil down to one thing: who packed the box. If movers packed up all of your belongings, you should bear no responsibility for damage that happened en route. However, if you packed the boxes and movers only picked them up, they might be held blameless.
Caveat: If you packed a box and the movers clearly damaged it you probably have an argument for reimbursement. But check the moving contract for a “hold harmless” clause or liability waiver with broad and sweeping language. This language intends to protect the mover no matter what, at least if the customer had packed their own belongings. Such clauses don’t always hold up in court, but if you signed the contract you might have a more difficult time securing reimbursement.
One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself against loss is to inventory your belongings beforehand and take photos. Sometimes a carton disappears between the origination and destination. Again, accidents happen. And sometimes a favorite possession gets broken.
The only way to prove the existence of a carton and condition of your belongings is with an inventory and photos. Fortunately, there are several moving apps on the market that make it easy, with itemization and photo capabilities in one. Otherwise, a spreadsheet and digital photos or a simple ledger with pictures included will cover those bases.
Filing a Claim
Worst-case scenario, you might have no choice besides filing a claim after your move is complete. You might not be reimbursed for the full value of the damaged item, says My Moving Reviews. But the more information you provide the better your chances. The process shouldn’t be difficult, as most movers use a standardized form. Here’s how to go about it:
- Notify the mover of damage right away.
- Gather evidence that proves damage. Take photos and don’t throw away anything.
- Fill out the mover’s claim form as soon as possible. My Moving Reviews suggests that you have about 9 months to file, but the sooner the better.
- Enter information about what was damaged, the inventory number of the item, how the item was damaged (was it dropped?), whether the packaging was also damaged, how much you paid for the damaged item, the value of the item on the day it was damaged, and include photographs.
- Keep the damaged item until after the claim is settled.
- If the item has come up missing, give the same information to the best of your ability.
Reputable movers are known for responsible labor and careful transit. Check the credentials, such as licensing and insurance, of every mover that you consider. And watch out for damage complaints at the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List and other review sites.
Moving is never easy, and it’s rarely simple. One dropped box can turn everyone’s mood afoul. But with efficient recordkeeping, you can build a strong case for reimbursement. Movers know that damage happens, and they already have measures in place to cover it when the blame lands on them.
Are you in the market for a moving company? Let Mover Junction help. Request a quote today, and we’ll connect you with vetted professionals who will handle your belongings with care.