WHAT TO DO WHEN MOVERS DAMAGE YOUR PROPERTY OR BELONGINGS? 5 SIMPLE STEPS TO ENSURING A MUTUAL RESOLUTION
On top of the million other things there are to be aware of when preparing for a move, do you know what to do when movers damage your property or belongings? Full disclosure, it may seem odd that if you have chosen to hire a professional moving company, you should also think about the full extent of protecting yourself, your home and possessions. However, despite 2020 being a year that continues to cause our jaws to drop; robotic movers still elude us. Meaning; if humans are involved, even the most incredibly talented, efficient, and experienced ones, there is always room for error. Check out these 5 simple steps to stay on the same page as your moving team, and have a clear plan of action if the unfortunate occurs.
1 – DO A WALKTHROUGH
There is almost nothing as important as a thorough walkthrough with your moving team leader before the starting gun goes off on moving day. Time is money and although this walkthrough does not need to take an hour, putting aside 10 minutes in the budget to go over everything in your home; ie. how certain large pieces will be navigated, what entry point works best (front door, garage, etc.) is paramount to keeping you safe if movers damage your property or belongings. All details should have been discussed while obtaining a quote and signing a contract, but this final walkthrough serves as another great opportunity to communicate clearly. Even further, conduct your own walkthrough before your movers arrive. Take pictures of all your large furniture and certainly anything valuable. Double check that large appliances have been unplugged and drained. Taking items that will need to be disassembled? Do this yourself unless otherwise discussed with your movers. For security purposes, they should not be doing anything that is not covered in the contract scope of work and could potentially leave you vulnerable if something goes missing and/or is broken.
2 – GET COVERED
Before you sign on the dotted line, know exactly what kind of insurance coverage your moving company has, specifically how it protects you and for how much, down to the dollar! A gigantic red flag that you are working with potential scammers is if they can’t inform you in great detail (and written copy) of precisely what their insurance policies provide. Find out whether or not the company offers an extensive protection plan in addition to basic liability coverage. Are the workers and the trucks themselves covered appropriately? It is also important to note, more often than not, your movers will not be held accountable for the contents of boxes they did not professionally pack themselves. If your movers drop a box of dishes that were stacked improperly; no paper, foam or bubble wrap, etc. – that is probably going to be on you. Looking into outside private coverage can also be an option for increased security. Moreover, read and become familiarized (ahead of time) with your moving company’s damage claims resolution policy. Ask questions and discern a clear understanding of what the expectations will be in order for you to file a claim and have it assessed quickly if any damage is sustained.
3 – SELF INSPECTION
Much like the pre-moving walkthrough is critical, a final self inspection of your property and assets before the trucks depart your new residence, can also prevent a large amount of stress in the long run. If your moving team has caused any kind of (even minor) destruction, the sooner you know, the better. Having an immediate discussion with your team lead to notify them of the damage, before they are off site, is optimal for resolution. Most companies will ask to receive your claim within a very short window of time following the job (see below). So, before your hired team of professionals leave, set aside the time to check everything, up to and including the moving truck to ensure no items were left behind.
4 – SUBMIT YOUR CLAIM ASAP
This is where taking solid stock of literally every single thing that was packed and relocated comes into play. If you are aware of everything you have, you will know when something goes missing. If you did your due diligence and took pictures of all your large furniture pieces before moving day, you have precise knowledge of what shape they should be in. Furthermore, if the regrettable happens, you have armed yourself with the tools necessary to complete a meticulous claim report immediately. Be detailed and leave no stone unturned. Include clear pictures, both from before and after. Incorporate receipts or proof of purchase if you have them, to help establish original cost of the piece in question. Can you remember where it was purchased and when? It is impossible to give too much information in this situation. Enclose relevant emails and communication. If there is a need to submit documents like your contract or invoice, always keep the original and send in photocopies. If one of your items has actually come apart, keep the broken pieces. Never throw anything away before the claim is settled. Once you have compiled all of your material, hit send. The sooner the moving company receives it, the sooner they can assess and repair the damage to your property or possession.
5 – ESCALATE
If the moving company you hired caused damage to some of your property or belongings, and you cannot solve your dispute in an acceptable time frame or peacefully, there are other options. Firstly, you can file a formal complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Although the BBB has no ability to force a settlement of your claim, they can contact the company on your behalf, whether or not the business is registered with them. Next, you can file a formal complaint with the Canadian Association of Movers. Similarly, CAM does not have the power to enforce a resolution, but they have far reaching influence and will go to bat for you. If they are familiar with the company, they will contact them and make them aware of the filing. If the business is not registered with them, the complaint will go on record and future customers can be made aware of it. Finally, you have the ability to take your unresolved dispute to small claims court for damages under $25,000. If you were prepared with information and details when you initially filed with the moving company; expect the legal process to be even more demanding and rigorous. Stay organized, document and keep everything, and do not expect the decision to be swift. Once handed over to the courts, these things can take a substantial amount of time. Not interested in any of this or don’t have the energy to keep battling? Leaving a scathing review all over social media (especially on outlets where it cannot be removed) always stings.
You are the customer and have rights, but the onus is on you to be organized throughout the entire moving process. If you do not do your research, read the fine print, or prepare yourself, you could be at a loss if something gets broken during your move, and fixing it could potentially not be your moving company’s issue. This is even greater reason to be comfortable with your hire, feel a mutual respect and solid communication before moving day.