It’s no secret that moving can be a stressful time. And working with a household goods carrier a mover can only add to the feeling. After all, you’re entrusting your belongings to strangers including treasured heirlooms, childhood toys, or expensive furniture.
Ideally, your move will be smooth and successful, but accidents do happen. Items get lost, or broken. So, then what happens?
Your mover is responsible for the value of the goods they are transporting. And under Federal law, interstate movers must offer two different liability options referred to as valuation coverage: Full Value Protection and Released Value.
Below, we’ll cover these options in detail, and offer additional advice and information to keep in mind regarding liability. You can also learn more inside the Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move booklet.
First up, Full Value Protection. As the name suggests, under this option, your mover is responsible for the full replacement value of lost or damaged goods. This is the more comprehensive option for protecting your items, but it is also more expensive. It should also be noted that this is the liability option your mover wi ll work under, unless you specify otherwise.
Under Full Value Protection, if any of your items are lost, destroyed, or damaged, your mover will offer to do one of the following for each item:
- Repair the item
- Replace it with an agreeable similar item
- Offer a cash settlement for the value of the item, or its repair according to current market value
One thing to keep in mind with Full Value Protection, is that movers may limit their legal responsibility regarding items of “extraordinary value”, or items whose value is more than $100 per pound. You should ask for a written explanation of this limitation before moving.
The cost of Full Value Protection also differs from mover to mover, and may include different levels of liability that can lower your cost. Be sure to ask your mover for written details of their plan.
Now, onto Release Value Protection. This liability option is highly economical, as it doesn’t cost you, the one moving, anything. It’s offered at no additional charge, but also provides minimal protection for your belongings.
Under this option, the mover is responsible for no more than 60 cents per pound per article. So if the movers broke your favorite solid gold statue weighing 200lbs, you would only be compensated $120.
If you choose this option, you will be required to sign a specific statement on the bill of lading or contract agreeing to it. If you do not sign, your belongings will be shipped under the Full Value Protection option instead.
Along with the Released Value option, movers may also offer to sell you third party insurance. This must be purchased separately, and is regulated by state law. Under this option, the mover remains responsible for the 60 cents per pound per article, but the insurance company will pay you for the rest of the loss, up to your coverage amount.
Third party insurance can also be paid for entirely separately yourself, from a different company. Before purchasing this, we recommend checking your homeowner’s insurance to check if you’re already covered.
If you’re moving within the same state, you should check with your state, county, or local consumer affairs agency or state moving association to learn about the rules and regulations governing moves within your state.
Finally, there are some points you should keep in mind regarding actions that limit a mover’s liability. These actions include:
- Packing perishable, dangerous, or hazardous materials without your mover’s knowledge
- Packing your own boxes. This makes it difficult to prove your claim against the mover.
- Failing to provide your mover with a written statement about articles of “extraordinary value”.
- Signing a delivery receipt for belongings if it contains language about releasing or discharging your mover or their agents from liability. Strike out this language.
- Failing to report loss or damage promptly. You have 9 months following the date of delivery to file a claim.
One final note: movers are required to participate in a dispute resolution or arbitration program to address your loss and damage claims. If you are not provided with information on your mover’s program, request it — movers are required to provide you with a summary that’s clear and easy to understand.
Ensuring you find a reputable mover can put many concerns at ease when it comes to liability and protecting your belongings. By using a search service like Zipmover, you can ensure that your mover is registered, and willing to make your moving experience a great one.