Valuation vs. Insurance

It is a Federal Law that all interstate moving companies must offer a customer at least two liability options which are referred to as valuation coverage. The two different options are called (1) Full Value Protection and (2) Released Value.

(1) Full Value Protection

Unless you specifically ask for the other coverage option, the Released Value option, most moving companies will give you Full Value Protection. This is considered the more comprehensive option in which the moving company is responsible for the replacement value of any items that have been damaged, broken or lost. Should this happen, the movers will either simply repair the item, replace it with a similar item, or reimburse you for the cost to repair the item or the market value cost to replace it.

The Full Value Protection plan allows the moving company to adjust their liability for items of exceptionally high value unless the customer specifically lists these items on the shipping documents. Articles whose value is over $100 per pound are considered high value items. Some examples of these items are jewelry, antiques, china, furs, etc. It is recommended that you always ask for a written copy of the movers’ policy regarding high value items before hiring them.

Full Value Protection plans’ costs can vary depending on whether or not the mover offers different levels of deductibles. Again, ask your movers for written details on the cost for this particular plan.

(2) Released Value

Because it is offered at no additional cost, it may be tempting to choose this plan. But, keep in mind that this really provides no real coverage should something happen to your item(s). The way the Released Value plan works is this: the mover will not reimburse you for more than $0.60 per pound per item. So, for example, if you had a 10-pound antique statue worth $1,000.00 that was damaged by the movers, they would only have to give you $6.00 as compensation.

Keep in mind that with this plan, you are essentially insuring your items by their weight, not their value. There is no fee for the Release Value plan, but you will need to sign the contract or shipping documentation to confirm this as your plan choice, otherwise the moving company will default to the Full Protection Plan and you will be charged accordingly.

Remember that neither of these insurance options are controlled by State insurance laws. They are Federal contractual tariff plans authorized under Release Rates Orders of the Surface Transportation Board of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Third Party Insurance

If you choose the Released Value protection plan, the moving company may offer to sell you or help you obtain additional insurance through a third party. This insurance is not included in the basic plan and you would be responsible to purchase it separately. Third party insurances are governed by State law, not Federal law like the above mentioned valuation options. If you opt to purchase separate coverage from a third party, you are still entitled to receive the $0.60 per pound per item under the Release Value plan, but you would receive the rest of your reimbursement from the third party insurance company for up to the amount of insurance you purchased. If you hire a third party insurance policy through the moving company, they legally must provide you with a receipt or confirmation at the time of purchase.

You are also entitled to purchase additional insurance on your own. Before doing so, you may want to check into your homeowner’s policy as you may be covered during a move.

Always check with your state, county or local consumers affairs agencies or state moving association if you are moving within your current state as rules and regulations regarding moves aren’t always the same in every jurisdiction.

Another thing to note is that there are some things you can do to make sure any claims won’t be denied in the unfortunate event of a loss or breakage of any of your possessions:

-Do not pack perishables or hazardous materials without the movers’ consent.

-If you decide to do your own packing to save money, keep in mind that if something breaks, you may not be able to prove that the mover caused the damage. They may turn down your claim saying the items weren’t packaged correctly.

-Do not choose the Released Value protection plan if your possessions are valued at more than $0.60 per pound.

-Do not forget to notify the movers, or indicate on the bill of lading, any items of high value.