There’s a lot at stake when you move. There’s the money you’ll spend, your memories, and your treasured possessions. And while most moves go smoothly, accidents do happen and your goods may be lost or damaged during shipment.
The Carrier is liable for the value of your goods while in their possession. However, there are different levels of liability. The level you choose will determine the type and amount of reimbursement you will receive if an item is lost or damaged. Be aware of the various types of protection available and their charges.
The two different levels of liability are also explained in Your Rights & Responsibilities when You Move, a booklet movers are required to provide an interstate move customers by Federal regulations.
Under Federal Law, interstate movers must offer two different liability options referred to as Valuation Coverage: (1) Full Value Protection (2).Released Value.
1. Full Value Protection
Under Full Value Protection the carrier is liable for the replacement value of lost or damaged goods in your entire shipment. This is the more comprehensive plan available for protection of your goods. Unless you select the alternative level of liability described below – Released Value. If any article is lost or damage while in carrier’s possession, the carrier will, at its discretion, offer to do one (1) of the following:
- Repair the item.
- Replace with like item
- Make cash settlement for the current market value of the item or cost to repair.
Under this option, the carrier is permitted to limit his liability for loss or damage to articles of extraordinary value, unless you specifically list these items on a High Value Inventory. An item of an extraordinary value is any item whose value exceeds $100.00 per pound.
The exact cost for Full Value Protection varies by carriers and may be subject to various deductible levels of liability that may reduce your cost.
2. Released Value
This is the most economical protection available since it is offered free of charge. However, the protection is minimal. Under this option the carrier is liable for no more then 60 cents per pound per article. For example, if the carrier had damaged your coffee table valued at $400 but that weighs 40 pounds you will only be compensated $24.00 (60 cents x 40 pounds).
Full Value and Released Value are NOT Insurance policies governed by State insurance laws; instead, they are a Federal contractual tariff levels of liability authorized under Released Rates Orders of the Surface Transportation Board of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Most carriers will offer you to purchase Insurance through the most popular Moving Insurance companies such as: MovingInsurance.com, Bakers International, etc.
If you choose the Released Value, the carrier will still recommend you to purchase additional insurance. The cost of this insurance is not included in the move and must be purchased separately by you. This is not Valuation Coverage governed by Federal law – it is regulated by State law. If you purchase insurance, the carrier will remain liable for the released value of 60 cents per pound per article but the insurance company will recover the rest of the loss based on coverage purchased. You must obtain a copy of you policy or other written record of the purchase prior to the move. You may also purchase insurance from a third party of your choice. However, before purchasing insurance, check your Home Owner’s Insurance Policy to see if you are already covered.
Keep in mind
Some of your actions may limit your Carrier’s liability. This includes:
- Packing perishable, dangerous or hazardous materials in your household goods without carrier’s knowledge.
- Packing your own boxes. You may consider packing your own household goods items to reduce your costs, but if items are damaged, it may be more difficult to establish your claim against the carrier for boxes you packed.
- Failing to notify your carrier in writing about articles of extraordinary value.
By law, for interstate moves (state to state), you have nine months from the delivery date or from the date the delivery was made available, to file a claim. For Intrastate / Local moves (within the same state) as detailed on the back of the Bill of Lading as different states have different regulations.