How to Prevent the 8 Costliest Moving Claims

moving insurance claims

Nobody likes claims. Your customers don’t want their belongings damaged, and you don’t want your reputation and customer satisfaction scores to decline. Fortunately, most claims are easy to avoid with consistent procedures and diligent employee education.

Below we’ve outlined the eight costliest moving claims and we provide tips to help you prevent them. To make it easier to train your team, we’ve included an infographic that outlines important reminders. Print and post it in your work areas for easy reference.

As we kick off the busy season, you can drastically reduce the incidence of claims, resulting in happier customers, better reviews and fewer headaches.




1. Dining Tables

The tops of dining room tables are damaged easily, especially when they’re made of glass, marble and stone. These tops often aren’t repairable, so it’s a total loss. In some cases, it’s possible to replace the top, but it’s the most expensive part of the table. Even refinishing a wood table can cost thousands of dollars!

We often see broken tables when they have only been wrapped in a blanket. To prevent this, glass, marble, stone and high-value wood tops should be crated.

2. Sofas and Oversized Chairs

Damage to upholstery and leather is quite common. These repairs are expensive, and many times require reupholstering, which can cost more than the sofa or chair. Scratched legs are also common. The photos we see often show the legs exposed. When customers see this, they focus their attention on it – they know damage is possible and look for it.

To avoid this, make sure the sofa or chair is fully wrapped. Be especially cautious with white or light pieces. You can use a cardboard crate to provide additional protection. If you need to squeeze the furniture through a doorway or hall that’s too tight, have the customer sign off on this first so you’re not liable. If you have to stand the sofa up on the end, curved arms require a “build up” to support the arm at the outmost part. You can use small solid cartons or six to eight folded pads for this. Stand the sofa with its back to the flush tier behind it and the feet facing the wall and ensure that nothing sharp is protruding. Also be careful when using knives to unwrap these items, as you could damage the upholstery.

3. Dining, Kitchen, Desks and Patio Chairs

We see damage to all parts of these chairs, but most damage occurs on the legs. Photos often show that the legs are not wrapped well. We also see chairs stacked with no protection between the chairs, which leads to rubbing and scratching. This often necessitates repairs of four to six chairs. If they are patio chairs, repairs may not be cost effective because of the need for powder coating and multiple repair sessions.

4. Lamps

Lamp shades and floor lamps are frequently damaged. Lampshades are usually dented or cracked, probably because the shade is not removed from the lamp or something heavy is packed with it or stacked on top of the lampshade box. We also see lampshades stacked together in a box, which can cause them to rub and scrape each other.

Floor lamps are often bent or broken. If possible, you can prevent this damage by taking them apart before packing.

5. Coffee Tables, End Tables and Nightstands

These items tend to experience the same damage as dining tables. If the top can be removed, do so, and pack it in a mirror carton. If it’s too big or if the value is high, you can crate it.

6. Beds

Bed frames, headboards and footboards often experience scratches, chips or gouges. This damage can be repaired, but it may be expensive because the bed needs to be taken apart, brought to a shop, repaired, brought back and reassembled.

Damage usually results from the bed pieces not being fully wrapped. Another frequent cause of damage is when side rails are placed together with nothing in between them.

7. Pictures, Mirrors and Televisions

Although these are different items, the damage is similar, and so are the packing requirements.

We frequently see damage to the frames or glass, as well as broken television screens. It appears that they either aren’t packed well enough, or heavy items are being placed against them, leading to breakage. We also see picture frames damaged from being packed together in a mirror carton, allowing them to rub and scrape. If the item is too big for a mirror or television carton, high-value items should be crated.

8. Piano and Large Safes

These items are among the most frequent claims, but claims tend to be expensive. The finishes can be difficult to match, pickup and delivery is expensive, and some repair firms will not even make repairs.

Piano damage often results from improper wrapping, assembling or disassembling. Damage can also occur if no piano boards or the wrong ones are used, or if they’re dropped. Piano firms have told us many times the pianos have been manhandled instead of being handled with care.

Safes get damaged from not being fully wrapped, causing nicks and scratches from the dolly. The last one claimed was $10,000 and weighed 1600 pounds empty. Another safe that was damaged also left tracks on the customer’s floor when the mover wheeled the dolly across it. The customers said that when they moved previously, third parties had been utilized for the safes. The lesson? If it’s not something you have been trained to move, or if you know it’s going to cause problems due to the size, value, equipment, or location, get a third party to handle it.

Protect Your Company from Preexisting Damage by Taking Photos

Sometimes items will have preexisting damage. The owners may know this, but other times, they may not be aware of it – until they inspect their belongings after the move, notice the damage, and assume you caused it.

Train your employees to note preexisting damage on the inventory form. Even better – take pre-move photos to provide evidence in case there’s a dispute. This is especially important for high-dollar items and items that are likely to lead to claims.

Watch Out for Dishes and Vases

While they aren’t the costliest claims, broken dishes and vases may be the most common claims. These items are fragile, and the various shapes can complicate packing. On top of that, they’re quite common, so there are lots of chances for things to go wrong. The good news is that these items aren’t usually expensive, so the average and total claims cost paid is relatively low.

To keep fragile kitchen items safe, cushioning is key. Cushion the bottom of the carton with crumbled paper, place crumbled paper inside glasses, wrap each item with paper or bubble wrap, create layers of more paper or bubble wrap between items, and fill the top of the carton with more packing paper. Bowls should not be on edge, but they can be stacked into each other. Plates and dishes should be upright on their side and glasses should be upside down.

Are you dedicated to claims prevention? Download our infographic and share it with your team. And if you’re not already an affiliate, consider becoming one.