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Chapter 7:

Insuring Your Belongings

Whether you hire a professional moving company or decide to do the move yourself, you can never guarantee that all of your belongings will arrive undamaged. Damage can occur while the items are loaded or unloaded, in transit, or in the storage. Sometimes, items and boxes are lost.

It is extremely important to make sure that your belongings are adequately insured before you move. The following topics will help you choose the right way to insure your move:

  1. Basic carrier liability (released value)

  2. Declared value protection

  3. Full value protection

  4. Extraordinary value items

  5. Homeowners insurance

  6. How to file a claim


Basic carrier liability (released value)

Basic Carrier Liability is also often called Limited Liability and is the minimum coverage required by law. There is no extra charge for this type of protection.

It is the most economical option available. The level of coverage for interstate moves is 60 cents per pound per article. For local moves it is 30 cents per pound per article, but this may vary from state to state, so make sure to check it with your mover.

Loss or damage claims are settled based on the pound weight of the article multiplied by 60 cents (or 30 cents for local moves).

Let's see how it works:

Among the goods you moved to your new home in a different state was a TV that you bought a year ago for $1,000. The TV arrived in million pieces.

Under Basic carrier liability you can file for 60 cent per pound reimbursement from the moving company. The TV weighs 100 pounds, so you will receive 60 dollars. Not much.

This type of insurance coverage definitely wouldn't be enough to replace your broken or lost item with a similar one. If you agree to this option you will be asked to sign a specific statement in agreement on the bill of lading.

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Declared value protection

This coverage is based on depreciated value of an item regardless of current replacement cost. Your valuables are somewhat protected under this option, but you pay for it.

The whole shipment is covered at a value not to exceed the dollar amount declared by the customer on the day of the move. The mover assumes liability for the entire shipment at an amount equal to $1.25 times the weight of your shipment, and you will be charged $7 for each $1,000 of liability assumed.

Let's see how it works:

Your shipment weighs 4,000 pounds. You purchased Declared Value Protection for $28, and under that plan the mover was liable for loss or damage of up to $5,000.

From the example in the previous chapter, assuming the depreciated value of your damaged TV is $800 you should receive the full amount, and still be liable for $4,200 in case some other items are damaged, lost, or destroyed.

If you haven't chosen another option you will be automatically default to this plan, and the mover is entitled to charge you $7 for each $1,000 of liability assumed.

You can also define your own value for your shipment. This option is called Lump Sum Value. If your shipment weighs 4,000 pounds the Declared Value Protection is $5,000, but if you decide you want to be better protected you can declare that your shipment is worth $10,000. It only makes sense if your shipment is really worth $10,000 or more, and for that option you will pay $70 instead of $35.

To obtain this coverage please consult your mover for additional charges and rules.

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Full value protection

Full Value Protection is also often called Extra Care Protection (ECP), and it is only offered on interstate moves. Under this option everything will be covered up to the replacement value of the 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.

If the mover packs things into boxes, they will be covered with the same coverage. If you packed the boxes yourself, then this coverage will only be valid if the box shows external damage (dented, crushed, etc). If this is the case, keep the items in the original box until the claim is handled.

This is the most comprehensive insurance plan available for the protection of your goods while in transit. Costs vary depending on the mover. However, you can reduce it by choosing a higher deductible. The three options are: zero deductible, $250 deductible or a $500 deductible.

Let's see how it works:

In the previous example, your TV was purchased a year ago for $1,000. You decided to purchase ECP with $250 deductible for your move.

After the move you can file for $750 reimbursement for the damaged TV ($1,000 original value minus first $250 not covered by the mover).

With most movers there is a minimum amount of coverage you can take. That minimum is usually $5.00 for every pound of your shipment.

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Extraordinary value items

Extraordinary Value Items are defined as items having a value greater than $100 per pound per article. Those items include:

  • Antiques
  • Crystal
  • Art Collections
  • Currency
  • Furs
  • Precious Stones or Gems
  • Coin Collection
  • Cameras
  • Figurines
  • Oriental Rugs
  • Silver and Silverware
  • Video Cameras
  • Computer Software
  • All extraordinary value items in your shipment must be identified. You need to notify your mover in writing that they are in your shipment.

    If you have any of those items in your shipment you must complete and sign a High Value Inventory sheet prior to your move. Only then you will be liable for full value protection for you extraordinary value items. Otherwise, in the event of a claim any settlement will be limited to the valuation you declare for the entire shipment and the liability of the mover for loss of or damage to those items will be limited to no more than $100.00 per pound per article.

    Please note that the protection for items of extraordinary value is not available for shipments, which are released to the value of 60 cents per pound per article (basic carrier liability option).

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    Homeowners insurance

    Most homeowner insurance policies cover about 10 percent of the value of your personal property, including coverage for breakage and theft in transit, minus the usual deductible. Check with your homeowners' insurance company to find out what coverage you may have and when this ends.

    In many cases the policy will be void once you close on your old home, so it will not cover your move anymore. 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.

    If you will need to file a claim with the insurance you will have to prove that the mover was responsible for the loss or breakage. You will not be compensated if the items were damaged as a result of poor packing done by you.

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    How to file a claim

    In the event of loss or damage you will be required to write a description of the items that are damaged or missing, and mail or fax it to the moving company. You have 9 month to file a claim, but make sure that you inspect your goods for loss or damage as soon as they arrive to your new home. Make records for the damages you find. It would be a good idea to take some pictures of your items before the move.

    Usually, for long distance and international moves the mover is required to itemize all the items on an Inventory Form, often referred as the "Bingo Sheet". Make sure to check that you received all the items mentioned on the Inventory Form. In case items are missing or damaged ask the driver to indicate that on both his and your copies. If you come across a damaged item after the driver has left your residence, do not throw it out. An adjuster will need to see the item as evidence of the damage and to assess a dollar value for the claim.

    You are still required to pay the mover in full and on time. The mover must respond to your claim within 30 days, and resolve the issue within 120 days. If you plan to file a claim call the moving company office and ask to speak to the claim department representative.

    The moving company may send someone to examine the damaged goods and you will be asked to complete a claim form. You will need to fill it out and mail of fax back with other evidences.

    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.

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