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Checking the Shipment and Filing Claims

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As all of your belongings get moved about during the relocation process, it is a real possibility that something can get damaged. No matter what precautions and measures you and your mover take, accidents can still happen. That's why it's important to look over your shipment for any damage and to know how to file a claim if need be.

Looking for damage

Perhaps the best way to prepare yourself for making claims for any potential damage to your goods is to document their condition before the move. Even though the movers will document each item and its condition on the inventory list, you never know how detailed they will get. That's why you should document your goods yourself, by photographing them or keeping your own inventory list with detailed descriptions. Of course, it may take you a long time to photograph and list each item, so you might want to do this only for large, expensive, or sentimental items.

Upon receiving your shipment at your new home, carefully unpack each item and inspect its condition. If something doesn't look right, you can quickly pull up your photos or item list and compare its current condition to its pre-move appearance.

After determining that one or more of your goods has indeed been damaged during the move, you will want to start the claims process as soon as possible. While you have nine months to file any claims after the move, the sooner you start the process, the better.

Filing claims

When filing a claim, you should first make sure you have all the appropriate documents concerning your move. These should include:
  • The bill of lading
  • The inventory list
  • The original retail invoice of item
  • A repair invoice or statement from repair technician (if applicable)

TIP: If making a claim for an intrastate move, you'll need to contact your state's regulatory agency or a similar office. For an interstate move, you will have to contact your moving company first.


If the moving company doesn't offer you enough compensation for your claim, then you might have to resort to arbitration. For example, if your dining room table cost you $1,500 and the moving company insists it's worth only $200, this conflict can be settled by arbitration. When you request arbitration, make sure you have the following information:
  • Name and address of the moving company
  • Pickup and delivery dates of your shipment
  • Addresses of old home and new home
  • Name of the person in charge of the move
  • Bill of lading number or claim number
  • Total cost of the claim

Rejected claims

As disappointing as it might be, sometimes claims are rejected, leaving you to replace damaged items yourself. There are a number of reasons why a claim might go unfulfilled. The following is a list of reasons why your claim of damages during the moving process may get rejected:

  • Failure to provide proof that item was indeed damaged during the move
  • If you packed the item yourself, the moving company isn't liable for it
  • The item was already damaged, according to the mover's description on the inventory list
  • The item was damaged due to weather conditions
  • You ask for more compensation than the item is worth
Inspecting your goods for damage once they arrive at your new home is an important part of the moving process. Instead of assuming that your belongings have arrived in good condition, it is well worth the effort to look everything over. This way, you can start the claims process as soon as possible and get compensated for any damages.

Photo by: Stockimages (

  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on August 27, 2009

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