It’s essential to consider what might happen in the event that your belongings are damaged during the course for your move. Are movers responsible for damage? The short answer is sometimes. The next most important question is how to protect yourself from incurring financial loss through damage to your belongings. Professional movers take pride in their work so you can be comfortable knowing that they will not engage in risky practice or intentionally damage your belongings. Accidents do happen though and it’s best to prepare for the ‘what ifs’.
What is the Law in New Zealand?
The consumer protection laws in New Zealand are helpful. The Contract and Commercial Law Act ensures that movers are liable for the loss and damage of your belongings while they are in their care. The Consumer Guarantees Act covers your losses if the mover doesn’t provide their service with reasonable care and skill.
You still need to understand the finer details in the contract between you and your moving company. A signed contract between you and your mover is legally binding, so your contract will be the final say in the event of damage or loss.
Goods carried at ‘owner’s risk’, means that your moving company is not liable for any unintentional loss or damage.
Goods carried at ‘declared value risk’, means that the carrier is liable for loss or damage up to an agreed upon amount as specified in the contract.
Goods carried ‘on declared terms’, means that the mover and the customer can negotiate all the terms of the contract.
Goods are carried at ‘limited carriers risk’ if there is no contract in place. In this instance, the mover is liable for unintentional loss or damage of up to $2 000 for each separate item.
In addition, in the case of intentional damage by the moving company, they will be held liable for the full cost of your damages regardless of the contract in place.
Get Insurance for Extra Protection
Some moving companies offer insurance but others will require you to get insurance directly through an insurer. Many movers stipulate that your goods will be moved ‘at owner’s risk’, in which instance insurance is essential. Even if your moving company offers some protection, you may still need third party cover in the event of fire or theft. Read your policy thoroughly so that you know exactly what your cover entails.
Damage Through Negligence
Your moving company won’t take the fall in instances of negligence. If you pack and unpack your own belongings, they are unlikely to take responsibility for any damage. The same goes if you insist on helping with the move on the day, these conditions are in place because professional movers have the expertise and experience to mitigate risk to your belongings. Another area of negligence is that of packing items which are flammable, valuable, illegal or perishable.
In the unlikely event that your moving company has incurred damage to your belongings, you have to double-check your contract and your insurance before reporting it immediately. Your contract is likely to stipulate a time period in which your claim must fall. If you have trouble settling the claim, you can lodge a claim with the dispute’s tribunal.