What to Do When a Moving Company Loses Your Belongings

Moving can be a stressful experience, and it can be even more so when something goes wrong. Whether it's mislabeled boxes, forgotten items, or stolen belongings, it's important to know what to do when a moving company loses your stuff. First, take the time to carefully check each room and all the boxes for any mislabeled items. If you're able, visit your old home to check if anything was left behind by mistake.

You can also contact your neighbors, real estate agent, or landlord to help you check. If you're sure that an item is missing, contact the moving company right away. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Make sure to note what is missing and its value.

It's also a good idea to take pictures of all your belongings before the move and keep them with you for comparison once the move is finished. If you suspect that some items have been stolen by the moving company, you have nine months to file a claim. It's helpful to have documents that prove missing items; for example, if you discover something is missing at the point of delivery, keep it with you. The responsible moving company then has one month to acknowledge receipt of your claim and three more months to respond with a settlement offer.

A responsible moving company will do whatever they can to correct the situation. They may try to locate lost items or reimburse you for damage. The best thing to do in this situation is to file a claim, which will be easier with the following guidelines from the Better Business Bureau (BBB): report the situation to law enforcement. If local laws are being violated due to the moving company failing to deliver your items or holding them hostage for further payment, police officers may be able to take action.

Losses can also be due to both your carelessness and ignorance of the moving agency. This is especially common when unloading items into the new home. Carriers may deliver items only to leave them at the entrance. If this happens in a rental neighborhood, property at the entrance could easily end up in other people's homes.

Some less reputable moving companies hire day laborers during peak moving seasons who haven't received professional training. It can also happen if the company uses a truck for two moves and an item is forgotten in a corner of the truck. It's important to document the condition of your property prior to the move in order to prove damage during the moving claim process if your items break, scratch, or break during the move. For an additional cost, some moving companies offer Total Value Protection which makes them responsible for reimbursing you for the full value of lost or damaged items or replacing them with items of similar or equal value. Nobody wants to think about it, but unfortunately it happens: there are unreliable movers that let people's things disappear.

The best way to prepare for any potential damage is by documenting their condition prior to the move. If something does go wrong, you'll have proof that it wasn't due to your carelessness. The Ground Transportation Board (part of the Department of Transportation) says federal law allows moving companies to assume limited liability for losses in exchange for charging customers a lower fee. When deciding on a mover, it's important to find one that provides quality service and won't lose your belongings. If moving agents lose items, you'll receive more money than if they were just damaged - but it won't be enough if those lost items were expensive. Take your time researching several moving companies and ask for quotes so you can decide which offer works best for you. Since they are not long-term workers of the company and may not even work for them in the future after their move, catching them is very difficult and they don't have much to lose if they are eventually caught.