It was one of those situations I never thought I’d find myself in. It happened during my first big move after college. Upon receiving a fancy new job in Los Angeles, I started to make arrangements to head from Minneapolis to the West Coast.
While I was under the impression that moving company scams are something that only happened to other people, I should have been more realistic - moving company theft can happen to anybody. However, if you have a big move on the horizon, there are many steps you can take before, during and after the moving process to avoid falling into the same moving fiasco that I did. Join me as I explain how I handled moving company theft and what you can do to avoid it.
1. Find a Reliable Moving Company
Prevention is always the best medicine. Before you learn what to do if you experience moving company theft, it’s important to know how to prevent it. In my case, I thought researching Yelp reviews and comparing prices was plenty of research before settling on a good moving company. However, in order to truly protect yourself, there are several other steps you can take.
First off, check the moving company’s USDOT number by going to websites such as Better Business Bureau and American Moving and Storage Association. These sites will feature reputable moving companies and will have information if a company has been cited for theft. Also, researching moving company reviews on such as sites such as mymovingreviews.com will allow you to get more pertinent information about each company.
Lastly, ask for recommendations! Utilize your friends, neighbors and family when settling on the right moving company. While obtaining social proof doesn’t guarantee that you’ll avoid moving company theft, it’ll drastically decrease the chances that you’ll encounter it.
2. Obtain Proper Moving Insurance
After moving forward due to the great price offered by a particular moving company, I was ready to sign on the dotted line. However, not only did I make the mistake of not conducting proper research, I also failed to pay close attention to the types of moving insurance policies offered by the company. My moving company was quick to present their basic insurance policy called declared value coverage which provides coverage based on the weight of your items and not the value. As the insurance policy was as cheap as the moving company, I was sold. However I failed to realize that they were getting the better end of the deal by selling me this more affordable yet very basic coverage policy.
When purchasing moving insurance, make sure to obtain complete value protection. Assessed value coverage is a better choice if you have a lot of small items of great value such as jewelry and electronics. You can determine a set amount for the worth of your goods and buy a premium based on this estimate. Some moving companies do not offer this due to obvious reasons. In this case, purchase separate moving insurance or simply give your business to a company that offers proper value protection.
3. What to do When You Realize Moving Company Theft
Moving day came and went and it wasn’t until a couple of days later while unpacking that I realized - some valuable items were missing. At first, the thought of moving company theft didn’t even cross my mind but as I frantically tore through box after box it was clear that something wasn’t right. After a thorough search of my old apartment and my new place I finally realized that I had experienced moving company theft.
I immediately got on a call with a moving company rep who advised me that if I hadn’t purchased valuation coverage, they can only reimburse me for the lost items at a rate of .$60 per pound. It was clear that the moving company wanted to stay away from admitting that moving theft may even have occurred. I was furious.
When my moving company failed to take action against my claim, I was forced to contact the FMCSA to file a complaint. To do this, I first had to take notes of what was missing and the estimated value of each item. Using this information, I filed a claim immediately (you have a 9-month window after the move to do so). I also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau
to help my case. My faulty moving company had three months to respond with a settlement offer for my claim and thankfully, they did. Once I received my settlement, it was almost enough to cover the items that had been stolen.
Moving company theft or scams is something no one should have to deal with, especially during a hectic time like moving. While taking steps such as conducting thorough research can help you avoid it, purchasing proper moving insurance and knowing who to contact and what to do after the fact can help resolve the problem faster and easier. Moving is an exciting time so protect yourself from moving company theft so you can truly enjoy the journey.