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How do I find an insured mover near me?

Finding the best moving company near you may feel a bit intimidating, but you will likely find that it isn’t so tough once you start the process. There are a few basics to keep in mind, and plenty of good quality choices out there. One of those fundamentals is insurance, and understanding how moving insurance works will help you develop a comfort level with choosing your moving vendor and getting started.

What kind of insurance do moving companies have?

First, let’s establish the difference between insurance and valuation. Moving companies are not insurance providers, and they can’t sell insurance. Sometimes a mover may refer to their valuation coverage as insurance coverage or protection. Generally, this reference is intended to make it easier for the customer to understand.

In interstate moves, governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA, the moving company is liable for any damage or loss that takes place during the transportation of your shipment or during the provision of any additional services contracted for on the bill of lading (such as packing, unpacking, and storage). The extent of that liability is determined by the Surface Transportation Board’s Released Rates Order. Still, it is also contingent upon the selection you will make when pricing your move and choosing a vendor.

The estimate that the moving company will give you must include the cost for Full (Replacement) Value Protection. If anything in the shipment is lost or damaged (with some exceptions), then the mover must either repair it, pay to have it repaired, replace it with the same or similar article, or pay you the replacement cost. There may be a deductible applied to losses, and movers can exclude certain items of extraordinary value unless you declare their existence on the shipping documents. “Extraordinary value” is defined as anything over $100 per pound, so you will need to list everything of value, including jewelry, silverware, dishware, antiques, and other high-worth items. The total shipment value is subject to limits as well and should be agreed on by you and the mover in advance, in writing.

The moving company will also offer you the opportunity to waive the Full Value Protection in favor of “Released” Value coverage. They will make this option available to you at no additional charge beyond the price of the move. However, the coverage is minimal, as it is limited to $0.60 per pound, per item. Unlike the Full Value Protection, this coverage does not support reimbursement of a loss for any individual article beyond the separate weight calculation for that item. For example, if your 20-pound high-tech racing cycle is destroyed, the maximum reimbursement amount is $12.00, even if it is valued at $1,000. The same holds for your flat-screen television, your first edition books, and anything else of value. Honestly, it’s hard to think of many items in your house that you can replace for $0.60 per pound, so consider this choice carefully.

You can also choose to use the Released Value coverage provided by the moving company and purchase additional insurance from a third party if you prefer. You may want to check with your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance provider about their offerings for short-term coverage of your household contents while they are being moved as a supplement to your regular policy.

What if I am moving locally—will my mover still have insurance?

Suppose you are moving within one state and choose a moving company that doesn’t fall under the FMCSA provisions’ jurisdiction. In that case, that company will still be subject to regulations from a state agency that requires it to carry and offer insurance, so make sure you ask and consider whether the coverage is adequate for your needs.  If you are working with a smaller company, you may also want to review the organization’s corporate liability coverage, particularly the worker’s compensation insurance. Movers sometimes slip and fall or sustain other injuries, and if it happens in your house, it is essential to ensure that their employer has the appropriate protection.

 

What else do I need to know about moving insurance?

Some actions you take may make it more difficult for you to successfully file a claim even if you have the Full Value Protection, so planning ahead may help.

  1. Movers may not accept liability for damage to something that you packed. If you pack the glassware, for example, and the box you place it in isn’t damaged, but the glassware breaks, the mover will say that the fault is yours, not theirs. If the box is damaged, then the mover will have to accept the liability for the contents. If you are doing your packing, consider engaging the moving company or a specialist to prepare and protect any high-risk items that require extra attention.
  2. If it isn’t on the inventory, it didn’t disappear. Whether you pack or the movers pack, anything that is important to you needs to be listed individually on the checklist that the movers create when doing the estimate. This step is vital for the estimate to be accurate, and it also provides verification for you if something goes missing. A box labeled “Office” doesn’t validate your claim that a laptop is missing if the inventory doesn’t list a computer. Also, since a laptop is a high-value item, it needs to be identified separately anyway.
  3. Don’t pack anything hazardous without telling the movers. They will let you know all the items they can’t take in the truck, and you may be tempted to sneak a few cans of paint or a scuba tank into your boxes on the sly. If something happens and your contraband causes a fire or explosion, your coverage is void. Prohibited materials include ammunition, poisons, radioactive material, even nail polish and polish remover, paint and paint thinner, propane tanks, gasoline and motor oil, charcoal, and pool chemicals.

What should I do if something is missing or damaged when I receive my delivery?

First, when you accept the delivery of your household goods, carefully review the receipt you are signing. It should not include any language that releases your mover from liability or says that you have received everything. If you see those references on the document, strike through them before you sign it. You have nine months from the time of delivery to file a written claim of loss, but you should examine the shipment as soon as you can. If something is missing or damaged, notify the mover promptly.

Moving companies that perform interstate moves must participate in an arbitration program to facilitate the resolution of loss and damage claims. Ask potential vendors about their programs before you hire one. Ask how many claims they have experienced and how they have been resolved. You can also check the FMCSA site for information about their complaint history and safety record. When you check the companies’ references, ask the past customers if they had any disputes and how the problem was resolved.

 

 

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