Military families are called upon to make a lot of sacrifices to help keep our country safe. One of the most common and time-consuming sacrifices is moving to a new duty station. With all this moving, many military families are more likely to have property damaged or lost during the move.
The National Military Family Association found that nearly 70 percent of families have had a problem with damaged goods during their last PCS. Nearly a quarter of those with damage decided not to file a claim because they missed the deadline or found the claims process too complicated.
Early planning and awareness of the claims process will prevent you from getting saddled with uncovered damaged goods. Check out these tips for packing, unpacking and claiming to guide you through the entire process.
A smooth PCS starts before anything gets on the moving truck. Even though the moving company will most likely create its own inventory list, it may help you in the long run to make your own basic list to keep track of everything while it’s being packed as well as when it arrives at your new place. Take pictures of items you think will likely break and write down the serial numbers on all your expensive electronics.
It’s also a good idea to try to make the time to be there with the movers as they pack everything up. Knowing that everything is actually on the truck and having a general idea of what is in each box will immensely help as you unpack.
This is also the best time to make sure everything is packed up safely. Keep an eye on expensive and one-of-a-kind items you can’t replace. Add extra packaging to fragile items to protect them from damage and to avoid the claiming process.
Once you’ve arrived at the new place, make sure you have your personal inventory list on hand to take an immediate survey of whether everything has made it there in one piece. Look for missing or damaged items and document them on this form and have the driver confirm it. Make sure you have the driver’s signature on the DD form 1840 before they leave.
If, after completing the form, you stumble upon a broken item you feel you aren’t responsible for, be sure to assess your options before calling your local claims office. If you have homeowners insurance that will cover items damaged during a move, check with them first. The military may not cover items for individuals with active homeowners insurance so taking it straight to the military could be a waste of time.
If you don’t have homeowners insurance that will cover the damage, you have 70 days from the moving date to file a completed 1840R form at your new claims office. The final claim you turn in will include the following documents.
- Copy of PCS orders
- Written statement explaining the loss as not your responsibility
- Copies of inventory sheets
- Claim for Loss or Damage to Personal Property (DD Form 1842)
- Demand on Carrier/Contractor (DD Form 1843)
- List of Property and Claims Analysis (DD Form 1844)
- Denied personal insurance request if applicable
You are still able to turn in and add to the items claimed on the 1840R within 70 days of your PCS but after that, the government will not cover items. Keep your move well organized so you aren’t stuck paying for damaged property that wasn’t your fault.