Guest Contributor
July 7, 2023
Article type:
Understanding Documents
Applies to:
All Moving

How to File a Claim With a Moving Company

Although moving professionals are highly trained in transporting household goods, there is no denying that accidents happen. No one wants to go through filing a claim, but it’s best to know how it’s done. Continue reading to understand how to file a claim with your mover for lost or damaged items.

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1. Understand Your Window to File a Claim

Before you submit a claim, it’s essential to understand the different moving distances and how they will apply to your claim submission:

  • Local moves are anything below 50 miles within the same state. All local moving companies may set their own window to file a claim, so your time to file a claim will vary on the mover.
  • Intrastate moves are anything above 50 miles within the same state. Still, this time frame and claims process will also vary by the moving company.
  • Interstate moves are anything that crosses state lines. Customers will always have nine months to file a claim; the time frame or claims process will never vary.
  • International moves are anything that travels outside the country. Under all circumstances, customers will have 30 days to file a claim; the time frame or claims process will never vary.

Claims: Why are some processes and windows to submit one different?

Local and intrastate moves (also referred to as “same-state moves”) are not regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Instead, they are governed by each state’s public utilities commission (PUC). Therefore, same-state moves do not need to follow FMCSA guidelines, which allow them to create their own process and time frame to submit a claim.

Interstate and international moves must follow guidelines from the FMCSA, which explains why the claims process and time to file a claim will always remain the same.

2. Know Your Moving Coverage

Your selected valuation or third-party liability insurance explains what happens when something breaks or goes missing. Understanding this is the best way to avoid miscommunication with your claims representative.

When you conduct an initial walkthrough with an estimator, they must explain two coverage options before scheduling your move: Full value protection and released value protection. You may also choose to add third-party liability insurance, but moving companies are not authorized to sell insurance, so you must find a third-party provider for this option. We defined the differences between valuation and insurance to give you a better idea of your coverage options:

  • Full Value Protection: Your mover is liable for the total replacement value of your lost or damaged items. For example, if something is lost or broken, one of three things would happen: The object would be repaired, the object would be replaced with a similar item, or a cash settlement would be reached. This type of protection incurs an additional charge on your move.
  • Released Value Protection: This coverage is free because it’s already included in the cost of your move, but customers only receive 60 cents per pound of household goods. So, if something is lost or damaged, it will not be replaced, repaired, or reimbursed for its market value. For example, a customer would be reimbursed $18 if their 30-pound computer valued at $3,000 were irreparably harmed by the moving crew during a move.
  • Third-Party Liability Insurance: Again, it’s essential to understand that moving companies cannot sell insurance, but customers may purchase it through a third-party provider. This typically provides higher protection for your belongings, covering them at their total replacement value. However, third-party liability coverage makes filing a claim more complicated, and working with another party for your move always extends the time you spend dealing with your move.

What combinations of valuation and insurance may be applied together?

Full value protection is an upgraded version of released value protection. Therefore, customers must choose between one or the other, and whichever they choose may also be used with third-party liability insurance.

3. Take Inventory of Any Missing or Damaged Items

When you see something missing or damaged, document your grievances immediately. Taking pictures is especially helpful because it can help avoid misunderstandings by showing your claims representative the exact issue later. For example, when your delivery truck arrives, take photos of the boxes before and after unpacking them. Take pictures of the items still in their boxes, the outside of the boxes, and their placement within your new home.

Also, take pictures of large furniture items still in their protective wrapping. The more documentation, the better. It's irrefutable proof and cuts out the speculation element that claims departments often use. If you need an inventory list of all your items, refer to the copy from your mover. A full inventory list is also in your bill of lading; this is a receipt handed to you on moving day.

Should I fix my broken items before or during the claim?

Under all circumstances, do not try to fix or dispose of anything after you identify damages. Attempting a repair or disposal of an item before or during a claim will void your contract and prevent you from receiving a reimbursement, repair, or replacement item.

Think of it this way: You wouldn’t take your car to the mechanic immediately after a car accident if you wanted your car insurance company to assist with repair costs. You would need to wait for approval from the company before taking the next step. Moving coverage works in much the same way.

Are movers liable for items that break in self-packed boxes?

Customers often pack boxes independently to avoid paying for additional help from a moving company. However, if the packed items were loosely thrown together with little care and something broke, the item would not be covered by valuation unless there was physical damage to the carton. Moving companies will normally cover damages if the movers pack the boxes themselves. If you choose to do so yourself, it’s incredibly important to pack your boxes with detail and precision.

4. Contact Your Mover and Provide Details

Now that you have all the information necessary to file a claim, you should contact your mover:

  • You may begin the claims process by calling your moving company directly or by filling out a claims form online; a customer service representative can often guide you through filling it out.
  • Your submission window may range from 30 days to 9 months, depending on the distance moved. That’s why it’s essential to understand your window to file a claim (as discussed in step #1) so there are no surprises.

Who evaluates my damages/losses once I file a claim?

Moving companies often utilize third-party adjusters to evaluate and repair damages for same-state, interstate, or international moves. If the item is beyond repair, it will be replaced or cashed out with something similar, or the predetermined value will be replaced. If the item can be repaired, a contractor will fix it. As discussed in step #2, it’s essential to understand your coverage because it will determine how an accident or loss during transit is made right for a customer.

5. Wait for Reimbursement, Replacement, or Repair

The time it takes to see the results of your moving claim can vary on several factors, including the claim's complexity, the moving company's policies, and the parties' responsiveness. If you are unsatisfied with your moving company's offer, you can seek arbitration with the FMCSA dispute settlement program. The FMCSA Handbook also states that customers can settle a dispute in court.

How would a company like Bailey’s Moving & Storage settle someone’s claim for losses or damages?

Now that you understand the general idea of filing a claim for losses or damages, let’s use Bailey’s Moving & Storage as an example. For starters, we operate an independently-owned moving company with warehouses in Utah and Colorado. We perform every type of move imaginable, but we couldn’t do it without the help of our partnership with Allied Van Lines.

Bailey’s Moving & Storage can operate alone when making a local or intrastate (same-state move), but Allied helps perform interstate and international moves. Allied has a global network of other moving companies like Bailey's that work together to move customers worldwide. Therefore, if a customer needed to file a claim with Bailey's for a same-state move, our company would handle the claims process internally. For interstate and international moves, Allied would handle the claim.

Where can I find the resources to start a claim at Bailey’s Moving & Storage or Allied Van Lines?

Allied Van Lines has the following information on their website regarding claims and customer service:

  • To reach the Tracing area on issues of loss of an item or an overage, e-mail or call 1-800-470-2851, Option 2 prior to filing your claim. Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm EST.
  • To file a claim online (U.S. domestic), click here.
  • To reach the Claim Services Department (for moves WITHIN U.S. or BETWEEN U.S. and Canada), e-mail or call 1-800-470-2851, Option 2, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm EST.
  • Intra-Texas Claims Use the "US Moving Services Statement of Claim" to file a claim online for an intra-Texas move or contact us through e-mail at: US Claims Claims for intra-Texas moves must be filed within 90 days of delivery. Complaints concerning the Household Goods Carrier's claim handling should be directed to the TXDOT's Motor Carrier Division 1-800-299-1700.  TXDOT MCR7143.
  • To reach Customer Service for moves within the US or between US and Canada) email or call at 1-800-470-2851, Option 3, Monday thru Friday, 8 am to 6 pm EST.

In Summary: Moving Coverage and Filing a Claim with Your Mover

When hiring a full-service mover, you should know how to protect your move. You can accomplish this by maxing out your coverage, packing your valuables with care, and selecting a reputable moving company to avoid heavy losses. But regardless, your mover should always be able to remedy your moving issues in a professional and timely manner. If they don’t, you can settle the dispute outside of the claims process using the resources in this blog article.