By Capt. Robert Webster Duffie Jr.
Legal Assistance, Claims Officer
Stuttgart Law Center
It is PCS season again at USAG Stuttgart! This means that on-top of all the out-processing, flights, and other things to do, you have to prepare to ship your property to your new home.
Unfortunately, property is sometimes damaged during the shipment process. Thankfully, there are ways to receive compensation for those losses. Before you embark on this exciting journey, take some time to read the helpful tips below on how to ensure that if this happens to you, you will receive just compensation for the damage.
Before the movers come, create a photo inventory of all of the property that will go into your household goods shipment. If you later need to make a claim, a photo is hard to dispute. Also, photograph the condition of your home on moving day before the packers arrive, just in case the moving company causes any damage. This will allow your landlord to file a claim against the moving company and help you keep your security deposit.
During the move, make sure high-value items are listed on high-value inventory. Don’t sign the mover’s inventory until you understand and agree with everything listed. If you disagree with what is listed on the inventory, make sure you write it in the remarks section. Furthermore, it’s advisable that you invite family, friends and neighbors to your house to keep an eye on the packers. It’s impossible for one or two people to keep track of everything going into the boxes and unto the truck. Finally, have the packers show you the inside of each box before they tape it. You can make additional notes on the outside describing exactly what’s inside.
When you receive your HHG shipment, document any pre-existing damage of the property and plan where you might want your furniture to go. Make sure to check all the walls and floors of your new home for damages caused by the movers before they leave. Once again, this will allow your landlord, or in case you own the home, yourself, to file a claim for these damages.
Lastly, document any visible damage to your household goods on the Notice of Loss or Damage at Delivery Form as they come into the house. This form will be signed by both parties before the movers leave, however, do not let the movers rush you into signing this document, make sure you have thoroughly checked all of your property and annotated any damages on the form before signing.
Remember, in order to file a claim for damages to your HHG, you must file a notice of loss or damage to the Transportation Service Provider (TSP) within seventy-five (75) days. You then have nine months from the date of delivery to submit the actual claim to the TSP for full replacement value. If you wish to file a claim for depreciated value with the Military Claims Office, you have two years from the day of delivery to do so.
When you go to pick up your privately owned vehicle at the Vehicle Processing Center (VPC), thoroughly inspect it and annotate all new damages on the Vehicle Inspection and Shipping Form (VISF). The VPC may make you an offer on the spot as compensation for damages. However, be forewarned; depending on the type of damage, the VPC’s offer may be significantly lower than the actual cost of repair, and if you accept this offer, you will not be able to file a later claim for the same damages. Any damage found after you drive off the military installation is presumed not to be shipment related, making it extremely difficult to prove that the damages were shipment-related and thus payable. Therefore, do your due diligence at the VPC and ensure that you note any visible damage on the VISF.
Following the recommendations above will take some of the stress out of your PCS move this summer.
PCS without the stress
If you have any questions concerning claims or the claims process, please call the Stuttgart Law Center at 0711-729-4152 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.