By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleJuly 12, 2012
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (July 12) -- The Office of the Staff Judge Advocate Claims Office offers Soldiers and Department of Defense permanent change of station movers several tips to recoup money from damaged goods.
Among the first and most important, according to Claims Office Chief Gregory Hand, is to create an inventory of all household goods moving with the transportation service provider. This inventory should have receipts and other proofs of ownership and costs associated with the household goods.
Proper documentation helps movers attain Full Replacement Value for loss and damaged items during the PCS move. Instituted in 2007, FRV provides full reimbursement to personnel whose property is damaged or lost while in the custody of a transportation service provider.
"The key is in being organized," Hand said.
Martin Leibolt, Joint Personal Property Shipping Office, Washington Area chief of quality control division, recommends residents ship larger items such as furniture and refrigerators through the TSP.
"Don't ship small items and sentimental items," Leibolt said. "These items can be easily loss or stolen during a shipment." Leibolt recommends movers carry said items with them.
During the move, members should verify their inventory matches the TSP's at pick-up and note any disagreements about the quality of the household goods on both inventories.
After the move, Hand said movers should document any loss or damaged goods on a TSP notice of loss or damages form.
The form, filled with all complaints and disagreements, must be submitted to the TSP within 75 days of delivery. Submission of notice through the Defense Personal Property System, an online system, is preferred for DPS shipments; however, the mover may submit notice through the military claims office or mail the notice document directly to the TSP if online notice is not possible.
Leibolt said the website provides video tours and other instructional information to help users. Movers can contact JPPSOWA with any issues using DPSS.
Hand recommends movers contact the claims office with any difficulties within 70 days to allow the office time to meet the 75 day requirement. After the complaint is filed, movers must also make a separate claim to the provider within nine months of the delivery.
The TSP has 30 days to respond to claims and make an offer to replace or repair some or all of the items within 60 days of receiving the claim and the information needed to make a decision.
Once the 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.
Hand said individuals can seek a settlement with the MCO for losses exceeding the maximum limits, for all disputed items or specific items that the TSP and mover didn't agree upon during the settlement. Hand stressed that the TSP's offer is not an "all or nothing" deal for the mover.
"We encourage members to make sure they preserve their right to file for those items in which they may disagree with the TSP," Hand said.
If the nine-month deadline for filing a claim with the provider is missed, Families can still submit a claim within two years of the delivery but the reimbursement will likely not exceed depreciated value.
Essential items, such as a refrigerator or medical equipment, are an exception to the claims timeline. The TSP must reimburse or replace these items within two days of a mover's request. A mover has seven days to make said request.
If a TSP declines to provide or pay for an essential item or fails to respond to notification within the two business day period, the customer may file a claim for essential items directly with the MCO.
Hand said the biggest mistake movers make during the entire claims process is throwing away items. The TSP has a right to inspect the damages before making a decision on how to proceed.
"Do not throw things away until you've given the carrier the right to inspect. If they authorize you to dispose of it, take a picture of it for future reference," Hand said. "What we consistently see is the carrier consistently denies claims because the member has thrown away items before the carrier had a chance to inspect."
A mover can request the TSP inspect damages immediately, which then gives the TSP two days to inspect and make a decision.
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.
Contact the JPPSOWA quality control division at (703) 806-4900.
To read previous installments of handling the PCS move season click on these links:
Visit www.move.mil to view the DPS program.