Who's liable when items get lost or broken during your move?

December 8, 2014

A move always entails some risk. But did the movers mess up, or are you at fault? Here's what you need to know aboutwho's liable when items get lost or broken during a move.
The last thing you should do when items get lost or broken during a move is to panic or take your frustration out on the employees. Stay calm, examine the situation and follow this advice:

Reread the contract

First of all, know that any reputable moving company will be bound by the good practices and guidelines of the Canadian Association of Movers, as established by Consumer Affairs. Note these guidelines are not "mandatory".

  • The quote or contract you have on hand should explain among other things, the company’s liability limits, as well as their insurance policy number and any other applicable insurance options you paid for.

Resolving a dispute

In the case of loss or damage, the onus is on you to first prove it. If you become aware of the incident when the movers are present, be sure to have them acknowledge the damage or loss. Then, get the acknowledgement in writing and with a signature.

  • If loss or damage occurs, notify the moving company immediately. Offer at least one solution to the company that could be mutually effective. This is a starting point for negotiation, so be ready to find a common ground and be open to solutions.

Good faith on both sides

In theory, the company must ensure that a complaints department is set up in order to quickly resolve disputes pertaining to loss, damage, unexpected surcharges, delays or neglect. After all, damaged or lost items are the inherent risks their profession.

However, it is up to you to be aware that, without adequate insurance coverage for your items and valuables, you may be in trouble. To that end:

  • Coverage terms must be discussed beforehand and all promises should be confirmed with the mover’s insurance company.
  • Additional fees for extra coverage may be applicable. All insurance details should be clearly stipulated on your quote.

*TIP: To avoid specific problems from the outset,you should handle and transport all jewellery and valuables yourself.

If negotiations fall through

  • Send the company a notice or a summons to pay for the damage. You can also send a written request to the Canadian Association of Movers and notify them of your complaint.

Guidelines set forth by Consumer Affairs advise that the moving company responds in writing within 30 days. They also recommend that movers resolve the issue within a 120-day limit.

  • Be sure to document your claim and notices in the event that legal recourse is unavoidable. Include all paperwork, dates of phone calls, photos and appraisals. It is evidence you will need to back up your complaint.
  • Another option to avoid getting the courts involved is to refer to a mediator or to go to arbitration.

In the end, lost and broken items during a move are always a risk—and why insurance is necessary. When done properly, figuring out who is liable can be quick and relatively stress-free.

Who's liable when items get lost or broken during your move?
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