By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleMay 18, 2012
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (May17) -- Protecting personal property is perhaps one of the most important concerns for Families experiencing Permanent Change of Station relocations during the upcoming summer moving season.
Servicemembers and Department of Defense civilians can protect their possessions by taking advantage of the Full Replacement Value program during government sponsored moves.
Instituted in 2007, FRV provides full reimbursement to personnel whose property is damaged or lost while in the custody of a transportation service provider.
Servicemembers must notify the transportation provider of all damage and loss within 75 days of the delivery. They must also make a claim to the provider within 9 months of the delivery.
When a claim is filed, the TSP maximum liability on all shipments is the greater of $5,000 or $4 times the net weight of the household goods shipment or the gross weight of the unaccompanied baggage shipment. The transportation provider's liability does not exceed $50,000.
Gregory Hand, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate Claims Office chief, said individuals can seek a settlement with the military claims office for losses exceeding the maximum limits.
Providing timely notice to the transportation service provider is extremely important even if a claimant does not take advantage of the full replacement value program.
"I strongly recommend that an individual makes those damage entries immediately," Hand said. "I think it helps the member's case by making an entry at delivery. If a damage or loss entry is made at delivery for a specific item, there's timely notice for that item even if the member does not get the form to the provider or the claims office within 75 days.
"If there's a problem with submitting a notice of damage or loss, we tell people to come here," Hand added. "We'll look at your documents and make sure the transportation provider gets notice of the damage or loss that you'll be claiming."
The provider has the right to inspect the damaged items once the notice forms are received. They can settle the claim by repairing or paying to repair damaged items.
"If it's not economically repairable, the settlement damages paid are based upon the full replacement value and not the depreciated value," Hand said.
Most movers can use the Defense Personal Property System on the move.mil website to submit a claim. If the mover has difficulty in using the DPS program or disagrees with the settlement offer by the provider, the mover may contact the military claims office, who can assist with the DPS program or mediate between the mover and the provider.
If the 9-month deadline for filing a claim with the provider is missed, Families still can submit a claim within two years of the delivery but the reimbursement will not exceed depreciated value.
Hand said the key to receiving full reimbursement is properly documenting property ownership prior to the move.
He recommends Families create a household goods inventory, take digital photos, and scan receipts of their property to show proof of ownership and the value of an item.
"If there's anything missing in their move then they can show it later on, particularly if there's a question about the value of the item," Hand said.
Hand, who has served in claims for about 23 years, stresses that personnel document all property.
He mentioned his own claims experience after a move to Germany in 1989 when many of his personal items were missing. Although the mover had not entered a pair of speakers on the shipment inventory, Hand had photos and owner's manuals showing proof of ownership in addition to the entries of other stereo components on the inventory.
"I still remember the settlement letter saying, 'We almost didn't pay you for your speakers but you had such good evidence of ownership and value,'" said Hand who received a depreciated reimbursement.
Transportation personnel will make their own inventory list during the moving process and will take note of any perceived pre-existing damage to property. It is extremely important that the member carefully review the inventory to ensure that it is complete and accurate.
Hand said Families should voice disputes about the transportation provider's inventory to the transportation office.
"Don't sign the inventory if you don't agree with something," said Francisco Castillo, Joint Personal Property Shipping Office, Washington D.C. Area, freight rate specialist.
JPPSOWA selects the transportation service provider for PCS moves, but Castillo said the organization doesn't handle damage claims. The JPPSOWA assists during the PCS move by ensuring a servicemember is authorized for a government sponsored move and by providing counseling advice for movers.
JPPSOWA personnel discuss weight allowances with movers and inform them of items that can't be shipped, such as flammable equipment.
Personnel who are moving overseas for two to three years may store property in a JPPSOWA facility.
Castillo recommends those on PCS orders use the Defense Personal Property system during the move.
The system allows servicemembers to request a transportation provider, file claims and settle disputes with moving companies online.
The DPS system requires Internet Explorer to run, which means Macintosh users must download the web program to their computers, according to JPPSOWA's website. Visit www.move.mil/home.htm to use the DPS system. Visit the Fort Belvoir OSJA Claims Web site at www.belvoir.army.mil/sja/newsite/claimMain.asp or contact the claims office at (703) 805-2315/4395 or for more information.