Movers damaged my antique pool table. But I have insurance. Or do I?

When Michael Miller’s 100-year-old pool table is damaged during a move, he’s assured that insurance will cover the repairs. But now it won’t. Was he misinformed?

Question: I’m having trouble with a 100-year-old, Brunswick-Balke-Collender pool table that belonged to my father. I hired a company called Diamondback Billiards to move the table from Mesa, Ariz., to my home near Flint, Mich. During the negotiation of pricing for the crating and shipping, we agreed upon a $10,000 insured value for the table.

Several of the pool table components were damaged during shipping.

I’ve been back and forth with a manager and the president of the company. There have been many phone calls, voicemails, and emails. I’ve sent them documentation of the damaged pieces, along with an estimate for repair from a local Brunswick certified technician.

I’ve given them every piece of information that they requested, but I keep getting stalled. The last request claimed that the freight company was looking for a receipt for the purchase of the pool table. I advised them that my father purchased it around 1972 and passed in November of last year. I have no idea if the document still exists.

The response from Diamondback Billiards last March was, “I will take care of it.” I haven’t heard anything from them since. Can you help me get the $4,800 it will cost to repair the pool table? — Michael Miller, Flint, Mich.

Answer: Your shipping company should have delivered your pool table to Michigan without a scratch. I mean, that’s what movers do, right? Otherwise, you could have saved a few bucks and asked uncle Bob to move it in his pickup truck.

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But this case became very complicated very quickly. It turns out Diamondback had only assured you of its insurance verbally, but had never provided you with any documentation. Diamondback picked up and crated your father’s pool table, but used a third party for transportation, so it was just the middleman.

Of course, that’s no excuse. You gave your money to Diamondback and received assurances that it would ship the pool table to you — and that if it failed, you would be insured for any damages. Then, when the pool table was damaged, it started a frustrating process of contacting the other shipping company in order to pay the claim. That shouldn’t have been necessary.

I’m impressed that you got through to the president of the company. Often, top-level managers like to hide behind their assistants, who send you form letters. That didn’t happen to you. But I’m concerned that you seemed to spend a little more time talking on the phone than creating a necessary paper trail. Never mind the fact that you didn’t also get the insurance information in writing.

The importance of a paper trail can’t be understated. If you’d had a confirmation of your insurance and assurances from Diamondback in writing, then you would probably have your $4,800 by now.

The rest is just details. That includes the outsourcing to the third party — which, by the way, is not your concern. It also includes all the necessary documentation for your insurance claim. Everything would have been worked out.

I contacted Diamondback on your behalf. It reached out to the transportation company it used, which indicated your claim had hit a snag. The insurer requested a receipt for the pool table, and it did not exist. Diamondback clarified that the table was an antique, and passed the information along to the shipping company, which, in turn, shared it with the insurance company. Your $4,800 claim is being processed.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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