If you’ve moved even once in your life, you know loss and damage is inevitable. No matter how careful you are, there will always be something that gets lost or broken. But what do you do when that happens???
It’s absolutely important to know what to do if one or more of your items are missing while you’re moving your home. As your items are being packed or loaded into the truck, one of the moving crew may have eyes on one of your valuables. Also, a careless worker might damage one of your items and hide it or misplace it unintentionally.
If you are planning to move your home or recently moved and some of your items are missing, this guide provides necessary information about what you can do.
What to do about missing items during a move
Here are things you can do as soon as you realize some of your household items are missing after moving your home:
Search all your boxes
It’s easy to get agitated and call the moving company as soon as you can’t find one or more of your items. But it wouldn’t be so funny if after calling the moving company you discovered the item has been in one of your boxes all along.
So just before you call the moving company to make unintentional false allegations, start by double checking. It’s important to calm down and check all your boxes carefully. If you moved with your family, tell them about the missing item and to be on the lookout for it. Sometimes, boxes get misplaced in the wrong room.
Also, some boxes may be wrongly labeled. So carefully search each room and check all boxes. If possible, you may visit your old home to check if the item was left behind by mistake. Or you may call your neighbors, real estate agent or landlord to help you check. As soon as you’re absolutely certain that an item is missing, contact the moving company.
Let the moving company track the lost item
Almost every moving company has a system for tracking lost items. Moving companies are aware of the consequences of lost items. So once they get your report, they’ll start tracking your items. Your misplaced boxes might be unintentionally delivered to a wrong customer as some moving truck can ship more than one household item. Depending on the type of missing items, you may give the movers a day or two to track it.
File a Claim
If your missing items are not found, you may consider seeking for compensation. You’ll have to file a claim with the moving company before you can get any reimbursement from them. As a matter of fact, before hiring any moving company it’s important to ask about how they go about claims and compensations.
According to the law, you must formally file a written claim before you can be awarded compensation. Some moving companies will have you fill out a claim form on their website. Bear in mind that your claim must be filed within nine months of the date your household goods were delivered.
After your claim is filed, the moving company will be required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to admit your claim within 30 days, and to either deny your claim or make an offer within 120 days. However, if you are not pleased with their offer you may consider other options.
File a complaint
You can file a complaint with several organizations about the actions of the moving company you hired. Although these organizations may not assume your responsibility they will help you contact the moving company and seek for ways to resolve the conflict.
Also, moving companies are aware of the consequences of negative reviews and reports and they are always careful when they settle conflicts with these organizations. Some of the key organizations you can file complaints with are FMCSA, Better Business Bureau, and the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA).
If you tried all the methods mentioned above and you’re still dissatisfied with how the moving company handled the resolution, you may consider AMSA’s Arbitration Program. The program is overseen by The National Arbitration Forum which is a neutral non-governmental agency not affiliated with any moving company or AMSA.
But arbitration requests are not free. You and the moving company have to pay an administrative fee of $225, sometimes the movers may decide to pay a part or the entire fee. Before you consider arbitration, ensure your lost item is actually worth the cost.
Although arbitration is voluntary for you, it is mandatory for the moving company you hired. Your mover is mandated to accept your arbitration request regarding disputes that fall below $10,000. But moving companies are not mandated to comply to disputes that exceed that amount. Bear in mind that any decision made by the forum is legally binding on you and the moving company and can be enforced in court.
How to guarantee reimbursement for damaged or missing items
Although there is no guaranteed formula for preventing your items from missing or getting damaged while you’re moving, there are some steps you can take to make sure you’re reimbursed.
Here are steps you can take to guarantee compensation for damaged or missing items:
Verify delivery of all items before signing for them
So many people make the mistake of signing for items delivery without seeing the item. Before you sign for your items, check carefully and confirm its presence before signing the inventory sheet to confirm the item delivery. Don’t let the delivery driver rush or compel you into signing hastily.
If you sign the sheet to confirm that all your items have been delivered and nothing is missing, filing a claim later for missing items becomes difficult but still possible.
Consider moving valuable items yourself
Sure, some of your extremely valuable items can be loaded in your car and moved safely with you. Items such as expensive jewelry, collectibles, fine china, and any other personal valuable items should be packed and loaded in your car for transportation before the moving crew arrives.
Buying insurance for your valuable items before you move is one of the best options to keep it safe. The standard reimbursement offered by some moving companies for damaged or loss items are called Replacement Value Protection and it covers just only 60 percent per pound per article.
However, for an additional cost, moving companies offer Full Value Protection which holds them liable to reimburse you for the full value of loss or damaged items or replace it with items of similar or equal value.
You may also consider purchasing insurance from a third-party carrier. That way you can file a claim with such insurance company if any of your items is missing.