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Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Got a damage claim against movers? Good luck with that

QUESTION: I recently moved, and the moving company damaged a piece of antique furniture. I'm getting only a few dollars in compensation, much less than the value of the furniture. What can I do?
ANSWER: I get lots of complaints about moving companies. Unfortunately, these complaints can be difficult to resolve because many people end up agreeing to one-sided terms that favor the company.
Before you choose a mover, check its reputation. There are unbiased websites that can help you with this. And read the contract, trying to renegotiate any terms that you find objectionable.
Some contracts stipulate that packing your own boxes will limit your right to make a claim if anything in those boxes is damaged. So you might want to pack the less expensive items yourself. Check your homeowner's insurance to see if it has coverage for your move. If it doesn't, buy damage insurance because movers typically have to reimburse you only for damaged or missing property based on the weight of the item -- often just 60 cents a pound or less. Get coverage for the full replacement value of the items.
It's also important to document the condition of your items before the move. Take photos and keep complete lists of what's in each box. Consider moving extremely delicate or sentimental items yourself. If you do make a claim against your mover, document all communication, make the claim in writing as soon as possible and follow the specific instructions provided by the mover and insurance company.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. Send him questions online at sunsent.nl/mR20t7 or follow him on Twitter GarySingerLaw.

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