Movers’ Valuation Options
Most professional van lines offer a type of loss and damage coverage called ‘Valuation’. It covers your shipment against loss or damage caused by mover error or mishandling while transporting and handling your goods. Valuation isn’t all-risk insurance and acts of God may not be covered perils. Valuation limits and exclusions may be found in the mover’s tariff or in your storage agreement.
If you store your goods as part of a move covered by a ‘Bill of Lading’ contract (Storage in Transit or SIT), the valuation may only remain in force for a specified period of time. If the coverage expires, any claim for damage due to transportation or storage in transit must be submitted to the mover within a limited grace period. Depository valuation on a permanent local storage agreement normally does not expire; however, coverage is not transferable and unless the storage lot is delivered by the same firm, new coverage should be arranged with the delivering van line. The second mover will not assume liability for packing performed by the first mover so unless they completely repack the order you may have no recourse against either mover for concealed packing damage.
If you are going to move long distance and store long term, insurance may offer better protection than valuation coverage. Insurance coverage is transferable so long as your goods remain in the custody of a licensed mover or warehouse facility.
When the driver loads your goods he will make a written inventory of the furniture and the cartons. He will put a numbered tag on each item and describe its condition or contents on the inventory list. A special declaration must be made for any items valued at over $100 per pound of weight and if you want the contents of high value packed items to be covered for ‘mysterious disappearance’, you should request an inventory of carton contents called a ‘piece count’, for which a labor charge may apply. The mover will unpack those cartons and re-count at delivery to assure all enumerated items are present.
At delivery, it is up to you to check each item off the inventory list as it is received. If anything is lost or damaged, a notation should be made on the DRIVER’S copy of the inventory before you sign it.
60¢ PER LB PER ARTICLE – At no additional charge, most relocation tariffs hold the mover responsible for loss or damage occasioned by mover error for up to sixty cents per pound of weight per article. On a fifty pound item, you could recover up to $30 for loss or damage on that article if the loss or damage was due to mover error. It is very limited coverage. Most furniture items and personal articles are worth much more than 60¢ per pound.
CASH VALUE COVERAGE – For a premium based upon your declaration of value, this depreciated value coverage is offered on local and statewide moving and storage services. The MINimum value you can declare is $2.50 times the weight of the shipment in pounds, but this is often not sufficient. Be sure to order coverage for the actual value of the contents of your shipment. If a lost or damaged article is fully depreciated, settlement will normally be based upon the sum which could have been expected from the sale of the item at an auction or yard sale (fair market value).
REPLACEMENT VALUE COVERAGE – For a slightly higher premium, this coverage is available on local, statewide and interstate moving and storage services. If something is lost or destroyed by the movers it will be replaced with something of like kind and quality. If something is damaged, it will be repaired up to the cost of replacement. MINimum coverage is usually $6 times the weight of the shipment in pounds; however, household goods normally cost more than $6 per pound to replace and fine furniture is much higher. It is important to cover your goods for the proper amount. In order to cover high value articles (valued at $100 per pound or more) for full value, a special declaration must be made on a separate inventory list.
If Valuation Coverage Expires
If the coverage offered on a ‘bill of lading‘ move expires while your goods are in storage, you should immediately procure new coverage from the firm warehousing your goods. The new coverage will not cover damage which may have occurred in transit nor is it likely to cover concealed damages or breakage of fragile articles unless the entire shipment is inspected, repacked and reinventoried.
If you are moving long distance and you know in advance that you intend to store long term, you should consider purchasing insurance which can cover your goods both in transit and in storage for an indefinite period of time while your shipment is in the care and custody of a licensed mover or public warehouseman.