Understanding your movers liabilityMarch 31st, 2015
All moving companies are required to assume liability for the value of the goods that they transport. But there are different levels of liability, and you should be aware of the amount of protection provided and the charges for each option. The two different levels of liability that movers are required to offer are:
Option 1: Full (replacement) Value Protection
This is the most comprehensive plan available for the protection of your goods. Under this option, often referred to as “full value protection” or “full replacement value”, articles that are lost, damaged or destroyed will be (at the mover’s option) either repaired, replaced with like items, or a cash settlement will be made for the cost of the repair, or for the current market replacement value, regardless of the age of the lost or damaged item. Depreciation of the lost or damaged item is not a factor in determining replacement value when the shipment is moved under full value protection.
The exact cost for full value protection may vary by mover and may be further subject to various deductible levels of liability that may reduce your cost. Ask your mover for the details of their specific plan.
Under this option, movers are also permitted to limit their liability for loss or damage to articles of extraordinary value, unless you specifically list these articles on the shipping documents. An article of extraordinary value is any item whose value would exceed $100 per pound (for example, jewelry, silverware, china, furs, antiques, oriental rugs and computer software). Ask your mover for a complete explanation of this limitation before your move. It is your responsibility to study this provision carefully and to make the necessary declaration.
Option 2: Released Value
This is the most economical protection option, but this no-additional-cost option provides only minimal protection. Under this option, the mover assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound, per article. Loss or damage claims are settled based on the pound weight of the article multiplied by 60 cents. For example, if a 10-pound stereo component, valued at $1000 were lost or destroyed, the mover would be liable for no more than $6.00 (10 pounds x 60¢). Obviously, you should think carefully before agreeing to such an arrangement. There is no extra charge for this minimal protection, but you must sign a specific statement on the bill of lading agreeing to it.
These two optional levels of liability are not insurance agreements that are governed by state insurance laws, but instead are contractual tariff levels of liability authorized under Released Rates Orders of the Surface Transportation Board of the US Department of Transportation.
In addition to these options, some movers may also offer to sell, or procure for you, separate added liability insurance if you release your shipment for transportation at a value of 60 cents per pound per article (Option 2). This is not valuation coverage governed by Federal law, but optional insurance that is regulated under state law. If you purchase this separate coverage, in the event of loss or damage which is the responsibility of the mover, the mover is liable only for an amount not exceeding 60 cents per pound per article, and the balance of the loss is recoverable from the insurance company up to the amount of insurance purchased. The mover’s representative can advise you of the availability of such liability insurance and the cost. If you purchase this separate liability insurance from or through your mover, be sure to get a copy of the policy or other document at the time of purchase. Your homeowner’s insurance policy may also provide some coverage to you.