How to File a Damage Claim with your Moving Company

Asha Kennedy
Researcher & Writer
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Edited By Sarah Cimarusti
June 13, 2022
5 min read

While hiring professional movers is a luxury for most, it still comes with its fair share of challenges—because even the most experienced moving companies make mistakes that lead customers to file damage claims.

If you’re on the last leg of your journey and feel too overwhelmed by moving into your new home to focus on damage protocol, don’t worry. We’ll decode the moving tips on how to file a movers damage claim for missing or broken items when your move is complete in seven simple steps:

Info Box
Should you file a formal complaint?

Damage claims are a way for a moving company to recover your faith in their services after a failure (like moving damage or lost belongings), so you’ll want to submit them as soon as possible. But if you feel your mover has violated the terms of your moving contract, you may want to look into filing a formal complaint.


Step 1: Document any missing or damaged items

As the movers remove things from the delivery truck, you may notice damages to your personal property. When this happens, it’s best not to panic…damaged belongings are, unfortunately, pretty common in the moving industry. Instead, request that the driver notate each damaged item as they remove it from the truck on the Bill of Lading. It’s also a really good idea to take pictures along the way.

If you took a home inventory before your move started, you’d be pretty familiar with this process on the back end. And even if you didn’t, that’s okay! Your mover should have given you a copy of the inventory before they left your origin city. They will also have a copy of this on delivery day, referred to as the Bill of Lading.

Remember: you want to do your best to document as much of the damaged or missing goods with your movers as possible!

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A picture is worth more than words when you’re moving

If you’ve shelled out a lot of money to hire a professional mover, it’s always a good idea to protect your investment and document your move using photos—from start to finish. Hopefully, you’ve taken pictures of the condition of your belongings at origin before movers loaded them onto the truck. That way, you can compare them with damages (if any) during delivery and submit ‘before and after’ photos during the claims process.


Step 2: Understand your insurance coverage

You should be familiar with your coverage terms before making calls. That way, you’ll have a pretty realistic idea of your moving company’s responsibility from the start.

When you booked your move, you probably had to choose between two options: released-value (basic) protection or full-value protection. (If you can’t remember which is which, we’ve got you covered.) A hint: the first usually comes at no additional cost, while the latter can be quite expensive (and offers significantly more coverage)—depending on the size of your move.

If you’re still unsure about what your moving insurance covered, it’s best to refer to your Bill of Lading (or contract) and call your move coordinator if you can’t figure out where to find it. You may also want to contact your homeowners’ insurance company if they covered you during your move.


Step 3: Contact your mover

At this point, you’re finally ready to contact your moving company. The first place to start? You guessed it: your move coordinator. This is the person you should have been communicating with over the entire duration of your move. Don’t be shy; they are trained to handle customer service for moves that have gone awry.

Once you’ve notified your coordinator of damages or missing items, they will ask you to submit that information in writing—usually online or via email. Sometimes they will request physical paperwork that you must mail in. Either way, this is the official start of the claims process.


Step 4: Leave everything alone

This step is pretty straightforward—if it’s damaged, please leave it alone! Think of it this way: if you handle anything after you’ve noticed an issue, the moving company has no way of knowing the extent of their damage versus your own. In other words, it makes it easier for them to reject your damage claim and deny you reimbursement or repair.

The best way to prevent this is to leave all your damaged household goods (including packing boxes and materials) in one place, which you can easily do with your movers present on moving day. And once it’s there, don’t touch it until a claims adjuster has completed their evaluation…we’ll get into that in a bit.

Exclamation
Damage claims might be harder if you packed yourself

If you booked a hybrid move with a professional mover, you might have packed some (or all) of your belongings into boxes. If that’s the case, it’s unlikely that your mover will accept responsibility for any damaged items inside those boxes upon delivery—which can hurt if you didn’t pack carefully.


Step 5: Prepare to provide details

Once you submit your claim (usually in writing via email or an online form), your mover’s claims department will follow up and ask you to give as much detail as possible.

Interacting with the claims department is arguably the most stressful part of filing a claim because you’ll be “proving” your moving company’s liability for the damages you experienced during your move. This means you’ll need to have all your paperwork handy any time you speak to your moving company and their adjusters—including your contract and any proof of value for the items that are damaged or missing.

If you’re stuck on ‘proof of value,’ think: receipts, paid invoices, billing statements, bills of sale, and official appraisal documents.


Step 6: Expect a home visit

Although it might feel inconvenient at best (and invasive at worst), most moving companies will send a claims adjuster to your home to physically inspect the damage, including those for any property damage claim. For missing items, they may simply call. But don’t let this scare you—in many cases, this will speed up the process.

Based on their findings, the adjuster will recommend reimbursement or repair, depending on the extent of the damage and the terms of your contract (which includes your chosen insurance coverage). 


Step 7: Wait for reimbursement or repair

In most cases, waiting for a moving company to issue reimbursement or schedule repair takes some time. Some will take up to 30 days to respond to a formal claim (although many try to respond within one week of the claim submission date) and up to 120 days to provide a resolution. Understandably, this can be the most frustrating part of the entire process. But if you really want your mover to accept responsibility and make things right, you’ll have to be patient.

If you’ve received an offer from your moving company, but you’re unsatisfied, you can seek arbitration—or resolution—using the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) dispute settlement program. Or, for more serious issues, you can always file a formal complaint.


Summary

We’ll make no bones about it: experiencing damages when moving with professional movers just plain stinks. Whether it’s damage to your belongings or property or things have gone missing altogether—we know it’s frustrating. But you’re not alone because thousands of customers experience moving damages every year. And moving companies across the industry are prepared to make it right…as long as you take the correct steps. 


Frequently asked questions

What happens when movers damage a wall?

If a moving company’s crew damages your wall (or causes any other property damage) during your move, you can include that in your damage claim form when the move is complete. Just make sure to document it with your moving coordinator when it happens and take pictures. 

What do you do if you think you’ve been scammed?

If you think your moving company has scammed you, filing a complaint is the best way to move forward. You can contact your moving company directly, submit your experience to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s National Consumer Complaint Database, contact law enforcement, or seek arbitration with an attorney. For more information, check out our guide for filing formal complaints.

What do you do when a moving company loses your stuff?

When a moving company loses your belongings, you’ll need to file a claim—the same way you would if those items were damaged. Moving companies handle missing and damaged goods almost the same way, so you’ll need to file either way. 


Asha Kennedy
Written by
Asha Kennedy
Asha Kennedy is a researcher and content writer who brings almost 5 years of experience working directly with multiple carriers as a Move Coordinator, including Mayflower, United, and Allied International. During her career, she has successfully partnered with diverse clientele to coordinate Military, International, Interstate and Corporate relocations—and uses this experience to create meaningful and educational content for future movers! Asha graduated from Hampton University with honors in English. Asha enjoys being in nature, reading books, and learning new things.