How To File Claims For Lost Or Damaged Items While Moving

How To File Claims For Lost Or Damaged Items While Moving

If you’ve moved before, you know that something will always go wrong during the move. Some items are lost. Some are damaged. Ofcourse we all want everything go smoothly, but what do you do in case your expensive TV is broken?

When you hire professional movers, it becomes their responsibility to take proper care of your items. But no matter how good the mover is, its important to remember that no move goes 100% right. Your household items could be damaged while they are been packed, loaded into the truck, in transit, during unloading, or while the items are been unpacked at your new home. Sometimes, an item can go also go missing completely. Fortunately there’s a recourse and we are here to tell you what you can do if such a scenario occurs.

If any damages to your item is caused by the carelessness of the moving crew you hire, you may consider filing a claim for reimbursement.

But sometimes when such damages occur, there might be a disagreement between you and the moving company you hire. When situations like this happen, there are organizations that can protect you and help you resolve the issue. So you can still file a claim to seek reimbursement for your damaged items.

How to file a claim for damaged items during a move

Here is a simple guide about how you can file a claim for your damaged or missing items when you’re moving:

Inspecting Your Items for Damage

Unpacking boxes
As you unpack, carefully inspect each of your household items and tick it off your inventory list. Note any damaged or missing item.

Before you can file any claim seeking reimbursement for damaged items, you should be able to provide proof that your items were actually damaged.

One of the easiest ways to detect if any of your items was damaged during the move is to document their conditions before the move. We recommend taking pics.

Although, the moving company you hire will document your household items and their conditions on their inventory list, it’s difficult to predict how detailed their listing will be. So try and take pics of atleast the big, expensive items or fragile items so you have something to compare after the move.

Taking pics also serves as an inventory list in case any items go missing completely. If such a situation arises, you may consider filing a claim as soon as possible. By law, you must file the claim within nine months of your shipment delivery. But it’s better to play safe and file the claim very early, the sooner the better!

Filing Claims Appropriately

take inventory of your moving items
Before filing a claim, review your written contract with the moving company. Photo by Morgan
@ Flickr / CC BY

As soon as you’re set to file a claim, start by reviewing your written contract with the moving company. Every licensed moving company in the United States is expected to have a dispute resolution process and provide a contract in writing that contains useful information for customers.

Your written contract with the moving company you hire should contain relevant information such as:

  • Estimates
  • Order of service
  • Bill of Lading
  • Inventory list

After a careful review of your contract, review the type of liability insurance you bought through the moving company. When you sign a deal with the moving company you hired, you also signed for the liability insurance offered by the mover in case of loss, damage or theft.

The liability coverage offered by moving companies also known as “valuation” is often offered to customers in three different ways:

  • based on the weight of your shipment multiplied by a specified amount per pound
  • based on the assessed value of the items provided by you
  • based on the full value of the items, which indicates the moving company will be liable for all repairs or replacements

Many moving companies provide declared value based on weight at no charge, but will charge a fee for full value protection. Take note of the type of insurance you signed off on the moving contract as this will determine how you will be reimbursed if you win your claim.

After collecting all evidence for your claim and reviewing your contract, contact the moving company you hire and let them know you intend to file a claim for your damaged or missing item. All inter state moving companies are expected to provide customers information about their dispute resolution process.

Some moving company’s requirement may involve visiting your home to inspect the damaged item or to inquire about the missing item. While some moving companies may ask you to fill a form on their website as part of their dispute resolution process. Make sure you find out about the mover’s requirements and follow all to give you a better chance of winning your claim.

If you intend to file a claim for a local move or move within state lines, you should contact your state’s regulatory agency, Attorney General’s office or a similar office.

Every Day Counts!

time lady
When you’re filing a moving claim remember that every day counts and stick to the time approved by law.

If you’re filing claims for an interstate move or move across state lines, you have to file your claims within 9 months after your items are delivered by the moving company.

As required by law, the moving company must let you know that they have received your claim within 30 days after you filed it. The claim must then be settled by damages payment, replacement of missing items or a denial of payment within 120 days.

What happens if the moving company does not respond to your claim?

If the moving company fail to respond to your claim within 120 days, you can file a complaint against them through the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Also, you may consider calling the Household Goods Consumer hotline so you can talk to a government representative about your complaint. You can reach the hotline via (888) 268-7238, open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-7:00 pm EST.

What should you do if you’re not happy with the settlement offer?


If you’re not satisfied with the moving company’s reimbursement, you may consider arbitration.  For instance, if you own an antique that is worth $2500 and the moving company insists on offering you $300, you may consider arbitration.

Ensure you have the following information when you make arbitration requests:

  • The name and address of the mover
  • Pickup and delivery dates of your shipment
  • Addresses of old and new home
  • Name of the person that administers the move
  • Bill of Lading number or Claim number
  • Total cost of the claim

Why Are Some Claims Rejected?

angry lady
Failure to provide evidence of damaged or missing items can make you lose your claim.

As absurd as it sounds, some claims do actually get rejected.  In such cases, you have to replace your damaged or missing items yourself or just accept the loss. There are several reasons why claims for damages during a move are turned down. The following are some of the major reasons:

  • You request for more reimbursement than the actual worth of the item.
  • Inability to provide evidence that your item was actually damaged during the move
  • The moving company is not liable for items you pack yourself.
  • The item was damaged as a result of weather conditions.
  • The items you seek compensation for was already damaged before the move according to the mover’s description on their inventory list.

Carefully inspecting your shipment after delivery is a crucial aspect of the moving process. Rather than assume that all your items were delivered in good condition, it’s worth the effort to carefully check your valuables.

If you intend to file a claim for any damaged item, start as soon as possible, and make sure you have a proof. Apart from the possibility of having a damaged or missing items, read more about other things that can go wrong when you’re moving your home.