1. The following tips will help you ensure that if any of your property is lost or damaged in shipment you can file a well-documented claim and be paid what you deserve.
2. The inventory is the most crucial step in the process.
3. You simply must control the packing and inventorying of your household goods. If items are not listed on the inventory, you may not be paid for them when you file a claim.
4. One of the most common complaints is that there were a lot of packers and movers; this made it hard to watch everything. Nevertheless, you or your agent must understand that you have to exercise some control and authority. If you are so overwhelmed by the packers or movers that you cannot observe your property being packed or listed on the inventory, call the Transportation Office. If you can't be present, make sure your spouse or agent knows what to do and arranges for help if necessary. If all else fails, make a statement of the inventory describing the problem.
5. Make sure that the packers write adequate descriptions of the contents on the boxes and later on the inventory. While the packers do not have to list every item, they should write the general category of the items on the outside of the boxes. The general category of each box (e.g. living room, master bath, toys, etc.) should also be written on the inventory.
6. List items that would normally wouldn't be packed in a certain box. Examples: tools packed in a box marked "clothes"; a lamp packed in a box marked "garage items". If you later claim for an item that would not reasonably be expected to be found in a certain box, you may not be paid for it.
7. Ensure that the carrier employee who fills out your inventory is accurately describing the condition of your property. If you disagree with his/her notations on preexisting damage, write your exceptions at the bottom of each inventory sheet.
8. High value items must be listed on the inventory.
9. Prepare your own personal inventory and gather substantiation of your major items. Before your move, make a list of the major items you own (i.e. furniture, electronic equipment, art objects). List the purchase prices and dates for these items and gather receipts, paid bills, pre-shipment appraisals to prove it. Then take photographs to show the condition of the property. Keep this information separate from your household goods. Keep it with you when you move.
10. With good inventories (personal and mover's) and substantiation of ownership and value, you will be in good shape. After delivery, you still must promptly fill out the DD Form 1840/1840R to report any loss or damage.
a. This is a pink form and critical in the household goods claim processes. You must understand the role of this form and handle it properly.
b. The DD Form 1840 is filled out at delivery. The 1840 is the front side of the form. It is called the "Joint Statement of Loss or Damage at Delivery." Although many deliveries are rushed, you should take all the time you need to list any loss or damage that you noticed during delivery of your household goods.
c. What is the DD Form 1840R? It's the reverse of the DD Form 1840 and has a different title: "Notice of Loss or Damage."
d. The DD Form 1840R must be completed with a list of all damages not noted previously. It must be received by the nearest claims office within 70 days after delivery. If you mail it, allow plenty of time for it to get to the claims office within 70 days. Receipt by the 70th day allows the claims office to dispatch a copy of the DD Form 1840R to the carrier by the 75th day as required by agreement with the carriers.
e. Why is the DD Form 1840R important? Two reasons: --The Government might conclude that any items not listed on a properly completed and timely filed DD Form 1840R were either not shipped or were not damaged in shipment.
--The Government will deduct the amount that it could have recovered from the carrier, had a DD Form 1840/1840R been timely filed, from any amount payable to you on your claim. IN MANY CASES, THIS "POTENTIAL CARRIER RECOVERY" DEDUCTION WILL RESULT IN ZERO PAID FOR ANY ITEMS NOT LISTED ON THE DD FORM 1840R. The reason is that the Government can usually recover 100% of the carrier's liability in the majority of shipments. But if you don't report the loss or damage on the 1840R, the Government can't recover and in turn will not pay you.
f. Even if you have a large shipment, you must complete the DD Form 1840R within 70 days. This means you need to do all your unpacking to make sure you have found all loss or damage so that you can report it. It is permissible to file more than one DD Form 1840R if you discover loss or damage after you filed the first form, but all DD Form 1840s must be filed within 70 days. (There are some limited exceptions to the 70 day rule, but you shouldn't rely on them, unless absolutely necessary, as you may risk not being paid for items reported late.)
g. Be careful to record correct inventory numbers for all items; even items missing from cartons.
h. Before filling out the DD Form 1840R, make sure you reverse the carbons!
i. Ask the claims office for help with the form if you have any questions - don't let the 70 days expire without reporting all losses and damages.
j. One final comment - Submitting a DD Form 1840R to a claims office does not constitute filing a claim. In other words, even though you submit a DD Form 1840R within 70 days, you still must file a formal claim within 2 years of the date of delivery of your shipment.