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My movers damaged my things while they transported them to storage. What can I do?

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Question:

I used a moving company over a year ago to put some of my things in storage. We just moved the stuff out and lots of things came out badly damaged because of the way they were wrapped, moved or piled up in the storage unit. Is there anything I can do about this now?

Answer:

The trick to dealing with this is acting quickly, says Lior Rachmany, CEO and founder of Dumbo Moving+Storage. "Notify the movers as soon as possible and use the original inventory sheet and any other evidence of the previous condition of your goods to report the damage," he says. "Also, take photos of all damaged items before submitting a claim."

And leave things as is. "All damaged items should be kept untouched until the moving company arrives. Do not move the boxes and do not try to fix broken items," says Rachmany.

But the fault does, indeed, lie with your movers, says Adam Doron, CEO of Unpakt, a company that lets you compare different moving companies and choose the right one wisely.

"Moving companies should keep the inventory items wrapped and protected while in the storage facility. Some don't do so since they want to reuse the protective materials rather than have them just lying in the warehouse protecting a customer's furniture items," Doron says.

"If the customer booked their move with the moving company directly, and their items were damaged either during the move or while in storage, the best thing to do is file an official claim with the moving company directly or the insurance provider that they purchased insurance from. If you have photos of the items that you had moved, be sure to include those in your claim to either the insurance company or to show your moving company," Doron says.

It's highly unlikely that your personal apartment insurance will cover this kind of thing, says Jeff Schneider of Gotham Brokerage, a Brick Underground sponsor. "Some policies will cover theft in the course of a move.  Fewer will cover breakage, and usually breakage of fragile items like china, crystal or glass will be excluded or limited."

And the fact that this particular issue happened over a year ago can be another challenge, Schneider says. "It can impact your ability to have a claim processed especially if it is now difficult to tell what happened and when." 

According to Rachmany, you have up to 90 days to make a claim with your moving company once you receive your belongings from the storage unit. "It doesn't matter how long your items are in storage. The time frame for your claim begins once you remove your items from storage," he says.

Note: Most movers will not pay more than 15 percent of the cost of the move.

But avoid something like this happening again, consider taking out coverage with the movers beforehand, advises Schneider. Also, make sure  you get copies of the aforementioned documents, like the inventory sheet--and keep them safe.

Doron notes that Unpakt protects its customers from this type of scenario. 

"If any damages occur, a customer is only requested to inform Unpakt and our support team approaches the moving company for a resolution," he explains. "If the movers did not follow Unpakt's service standard (protecting each item, wrapping etc.) we issue a refund to the customer based on the damages."


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