2013-09-27 / Community Events

Obtaining the best settlement for damaged property claims

Office of the Staff Judge Advocate

People who have suffered damage to their household goods during a PCS move, and want to obtain full replacement value for their property can file a claim online with the mover. The online claim is supposed to be more efficient and easier, yet can be become a nightmare and aggravating. Glitches with the online program or the moving company’s refusal to offer a fair settlement for the damages caused may “peg” a person’s frustration to a level that additional new damage to the property may occur. Rather than continue with the online aggravation, individuals can transfer your claim from the online system to the Fort Gordon military claims office located in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. There, the claim will be processed and adjudicated by the Fort Gordon JAG rather than online.

This article addresses the remedy for the problems claimants may encounter with the online claims system. Those problems range from network malfunctions to a moving company that refuses to satisfactorily resolve a claim. The online system does not provide online alternatives if the defence property system program is not working to the claimant’s satisfaction. Current law and regulations require personnel seeking the full replacement value for property lost or damaged during a PCS move to file a claim through the Defense Property System against the transportation service provider.

DPS is designed to place most of the claims process burden on the TSP. DPS allows the claimant to initiate, file, and provide substantiation online with the TSP. The TSP is responsible for obtaining the repair estimates as well as the repairs. For those items that cannot be repaired or that were lost, the TSP is responsible for paying the claimant the amount that it would cost the claimant to purchase an item of like quality. Most TSPs comply with their obligations and once the value of the damaged or lost item is substantiated, they issue payment to the claimant. There are exceptions to this general rule.

Claimants who are unable to satisfactorily resolve their whole claim or individual items in their claim with the TSP, may transfer the whole claim or just the disputed items to their local military claims office; thereby removing their claim from the online system. Transferring the claim to the MCO requires the MCO to process, adjudicate, and pay the claim rather than the TSP. The MCO pays the depreciated value of lost and destroyed items rather than the items’ full replacement value. Although the MCO will seek to recover from the TSP the full replacement value for the claimant’s property, these recovery actions often take an extended period of time before the government can forward the additional money to the claimant. The claimant will not receive the full replacement value until it is recovered by the MCO from the TSP. Transferring the claim to the MCO is much more user friendly than continuing to contend with the TSP or online issues.

Transferring the claim to the MCO requires the claimant to notify the MCO of the transfer. The online program appears to allow the claimant to accomplish the transfer with a simple click on the “Transfer to MCO” tab. Clicking the “Transfer to MCO” tab only partially accomplishes the transfer. Clicking the “Transfer to MCO” tab notifies the TSP of the claimant’s intent to transfer, allowing the TSP to stop work on the claim. The MCO receives no notice of the transfer and is unaware of the claimant’s desire to transfer the claim. The claimant must contact the MCO and provide it notice of the transfer. If the claimant does not directly notify the MCO, the claim remains without action. Upon receipt of the claimant’s intent to file with the MCO, the MCO will obtain from the claimant the information needed to settle the claim.

Should you decide to transfer your claim to the MCO, contact the Fort Gordon claims office before you click on the “Transfer to MCO” button. The Fort Gordon claims office can help resolve issues with the TSP without having to file another claim. Individuals can and should work to resolve as much of the claim with the TSP as possible, since they are required to pay the full replacement value. The Fort Gordon claims office will assist you with your claim against the TSP by reviewing the TSP’s offer, by making recommendations regarding your response to the offer, and by providing assistance in the rebuttal process or with any other issues in the process. If not satisfied with the offer from the TSP, have the Fort Gordon claims office review the claim to ensure a fair settlement.

The MCO’s mission is to ensure proper compensation is paid for loss of property caused by government contract movers. It’s recommended to contact the Fort Gordon claims office prior to initiating a claim in DPS. The assistance and information available from the claims office will put you on the right track to obtaining the full compensation due for lost and damaged household property. To contact the Fort Gordon claims office, call 791-3630 or 791-6542.

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