Moving Tips - Insurance and Liability


Moving companies must assume liability for the value of the goods that they move. The level of liability can vary. You need to be aware of the amount of protection and the charges for each option. Insurance is often the area in moving that people know very little about. As a result of this it is often the area in which people make poor choices. Movers are required to provide you with information on what it will cost you to place a value on your shipment.

You should be provided with a brochure "Here's What You Need to Know About Placing a Value on Your Household Goods Shipment Before You Move" or this information may be included in "Your Rights and Responsibilities when you move" brochure. Be sure you actually read these brochures so you can accurately put a value on your shipment.

Check with the local Better Business Bureau to get information on how the mover has handled claims in the past. In the unlikely event you have loss or damage as a result of your move you have nine months to make a claim however you are still responsible for paying for the move in a timely fashion.

This is generally COD or cash on delivery on the day of unloading. The mover is required to respond to your claim within 30 days and the issue must be resolved within 120 days. In the event that arbitration is chosen to resolve the issue and you are not satisfied with the outcome of the arbitration process you may sue for damages.

Basic Carrier Liability-Released Value:
This is the often called limited liability and is the minimum coverage required by law. This insurance is covered in the base price and does not cost you any extra money. It is the most economical option available however your goods are covered to no more than 60cents per pound per article. This is the level of coverage for an interstate move. This minimal amount of liability that must be provided to any consumer when transporting goods is called "released value".

The coverage for local moves is commonly 30 cents per pound however this can very from state to state. Loss or damage claims are settled based on the pound weight of the article multiplied by 60 cents. If you have a 10 pound TV and it is destroyed in transit, you would be entitled to a total of $6.00 for the replacement of the TV. Obviously this will not replace the TV with this amount of money so think carefully before agreeing to it. If you agree to this option for insurance coverage you will be asked to sign a specific statement in agreement on the bill of lading.

Declared Value Protection is coverage is based on depreciated value of an item regardless of current replacement cost. The whole shipment is covered at a value not to exceed the dollar amount that you, the customer, declare. With this option the mover assumes liability for the entire shipment at an amount equal to $1.25 times the weight of your shipment. For example, if your shipment weights 8,000 pounds, the mover will be liable for loss or damage up to $10,000.

Though you have made no specific arrangements for this plan you automatically default to it if you have not chosen another option and the mover is entitled to charge you $ 7.00 for each $ 1,000 of liability assumed. A charge of $70 will be added to your bill for additional liability if the declared value of the shipment is $10,000. Under this arrangement if a 10-pound item valued at $ 1,000 is damaged, the mover is liable for up to $1,000, based on the depreciated value of the item. Your valuables are somewhat protected, under this plan, but you pay for it.
To obtain this coverage please consult your mover for additional charges and rules.

Full (Replacement) Value Protection:
This option is often referred to as full replacement value protection. With this plan, any goods lost, damaged or destroyed during the move will be either repaired, replaced or a cash settlement made at the movers discretion.

This is the most comprehensive insurance plan available for the protection of your goods while in transit. Costs vary depending on the mover however by choosing a higher deductible you may be able to reduce the cost. Remember that coverage with deductible reduces the premium however you will be responsible for the first $100.00, $250.00 or $500.00 of loss or repairs depending on the deductible amount. The mover can protect himself from loss or damage to high value items i.e. value of over $100 per pound unless you list these goods on the shipping document. Jewelry and furs are examples of high or extraordinary value items.

Talk with your movers so you can get a clear understanding of your options and make more informed choices.

Extraordinary Value Items:
Items considered to be of extraordinary value must be identified. You must advise your van line agent in writing that they are in your shipment. These items are defined as items having a value greater than $ 100.00 per pound per article. For example:

  • Antiques
  • Crystal
  • Precious Stones or Gems
  • Art Collections
  • Currency
  • Silver and Silverware
  • Cameras
  • Figurines
  • Video Cameras
  • Computer Software
  • Furs
  • Coin Collection
  • Oriental Rugs

If you include items of extraordinary value in your shipment, a High Value Inventory sheet must be completed and signed by you prior to your move. In the event of a claim, any settlement is limited to the valuation you declare for the entire shipment.

If you fail to list all extraordinary value items and/or fail to sign the High Value Inventory sheet, the van line liability for loss of or damage to those items will be limited to no more than $100.00 per pound per article, based upon the actual weight of the article (does not apply to shipments under the "basic carrier liability" option).

You must declare the total amount of the released value that you declare for your goods. This total should include the value of items, including all items of extraordinary value. Record the total value on the bill of lading. Please note that the protection for items of extraordinary value is not available for shipments, which are released to the van line's value of 60 cents per pound per article (basic carrier liability option).

Please also be advised of items not to pack, like food or flammable items.

Homeowners Insurance:
Some homeowner's insurance policies cover household goods while in transit. Check with your homeowner's insurance company to find out what coverage you may have and be sure to check out when this ends. If the policy is void once you close on your old home it may be of little use to you as this is most likely when you will be moving.

If you are fortunate enough to have coverage make sure you contact the insurance company and ask them to explain the level of coverage and what exactly is covered. In the event you need to file a claim with the insurance you will need to prove that the loss or breakage is due to mover's negligence. No money will be paid out due to any items damaged due to poor packing by you.