Claims Advice for PCS moves

Moving is something all Soldiers are familiar with. Unfortunately, moves often result in loss and damage of the items being shipped. Whether it is a scratch on a family heirloom, or a box of your favorite compact disks that disappears during the move, such losses can be traumatic. The military claims system is designed to help Soldiers recover for such losses. It is also designed to ensure that the carrier responsible for the loss and damage is held accountable. This article will explain the military claims system and explain ways you can ensure fair compensation for any loss and damage you suffer during a PCS move.

Before the Move
The best way to ensure you will be compensated for loss and damage during a move is to take a few precautions before the move. This is the best time to document what you own and to ensure that you have the insurance coverage that you need.

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See related PCS move advice

During the move

After the move

he first thing to consider is whether you need additional insurance protection. You can either purchase your own insurance or, for moves within the continental United States, you can buy additional insurance protection through the transportation office. If you do not purchase insurance, the Army claims office can only pay the depreciated replacement or repair cost of your lost and damaged items. This is because the relevant claims statute only allows payment for current market value and not full replacement cost. In addition, the claims office has certain maximum amounts payable for specific items; for example, the maximum for stereo equipment is $1,000 per item and $4,000 per shipment. If you need more protection, you should consider buying insurance.

Most private insurance contracts will reimburse you only for items lost or destroyed during shipment; they usually will not cover damaged items (items which can be economically repaired). Some insurance companies provide full replacement cost protection; this means that if your ten year old television is destroyed they will pay to replace it with a comparable new television. Each insurance policy is different; it is important to find out if the coverage satisfies your needs before your move.

For moves within the continental United States you can also arrange for two types of insurance through the transportation office. Option 1 or higher increased released value insurance will provide you with a greater dollar amount of protection for individual items. For example, if you purchase Option 1 insurance and your stereo is destroyed, the carrier will pay you the depreciated value of your stereo up to the full amount the protection you purchased, regardless of the $1,000 maximum amount allowable for stereo items. Option 2 or full replacement protection entitles you to the full undepreciated value of your lost and destroyed items. For example, if you purchased Option 2 insurance and your stereo was destroyed, the carrier should pay you the cost of a comparable new stereo. If your stereo is merely damaged, however, the carrier has the option of repairing it. Both Option 1 and Option 2 insurance are purchased from the carrier, so your payment will ultimately come from the carrier. Your local transportation office or claims office can explain the procedures for filing an insurance claim against the carrier.

Documenting what you own is perhaps the most important thing to do before your move. Ensure that you save receipts, bills, appraisals, high value item inventories, and other proof of ownership. These important documents should never be shipped with your household goods. Ship them separately or, better yet, hand-carry them. This way, if your entire shipment is lost, your proof of ownership will not be lost as well. An excellent way to document what you own is to take pictures or videotape of the items in your house immediately before the move. If you have an extensive compact disk collection, or a number of Hummel or Lladro figurines, this is an excellent way of demonstrating the extent of your collection. Ensure that you videotape the open jewel covers of your compact disks, showing the disks inside. Pictures and videotapes have an added benefit; not only will they show what you own, but they will also demonstrate the condition of your items. If the movers scratch your dining room table, you will have a much easier time proving that the scratch occurred during the move if you have a picture of the table taken immediately before the move. Carry the photos and videotapes with you; do not ship them.