First, let’s talk about liability. All moving companies are required to assume liability for the value of goods they transport. However, there are different levels of liability. As a Smart Mover, you need to know what’s covered and what isn’t.

Da law she say: The mover is required to assume liability for the entire shipment at $1.25 per pound times the weight of your shipment.So, if your shipment weights 4,000 pounds, the mover is liable to you for loss or damage up to $5,000 (4,000 x 1.25 = 5,000).

The mover can charge you $7 for each $1,000 of liability, however. Under this arrangement, if you shipped a 10-pound painting valued at $1,000 in your 4,000 pound shipment, you could collect for the full value of the painting if it was lost or damaged. Under this plan, your valuables are somewhat protected, but you pay for the protection. Of course, if your painting is valued at $10,000, you’ll get no more than the coverage limit for the entire shipment: $5,000.

What if the value of your shipment is more than $1.25 per pound? You can buy additional liability protection from the mover. You do this by declaring a specific dollar value for your shipment.

If you declare that your 4,000 pound shipment is worth $10,000, the mover will charge you $7 for each $1,000 of declared value, which in this case would result in a charge of $70.

If you ship articles that are unusually expensive, such as art or antiques, be sure to declare their full value in the declaration. You must do this in writing.

Movers can limit their liability for loss or damage of valuable things unless you specifically list them on the shipping papers. Valuable things are those worth more than $100 a pound.

The least liability a mover can assume for your stuff is called the released value. This value is not more than 60 cents per pound, per article. So if that 10 pound painting mentioned earlier was lost or damaged and you had agreed to a released-value shipment, the mover would have to pay you a whole six bucks!

So you’ll automatically get—and pay extra for—mimimal value coverage unless you sign the bill of lading clause that says you want the no-extra-cost “release value.�?

Any other options? Yes! Most movers offer another plan: added-value protection. It simply means more coverage—and more cost. If you think you’ll need it, be sure to ask your mover about it. Each mover will have a different program and costs.

There’s one more option: You go get a moving insurance policy from your household insurance agent. In fact, you should check with the agent before you move as your stuff may be covered in transit.

Thoroughly confused yet? Let’s summarize your options:

  • Your load automatically gets minimal value insurance and you get charged for the extra coverage…
  • Unless you sign a waiver and get release value coverage at no extra cost…
  • Or you purchase additional insurance from your mover…
  • Or you have or buy additional coverage from your homeowner insurance agent.

Insurance is always expensive—until you have a claim. Then it’s cheap!

Moving Tips

Movers liability law is subject to change. For interstate moves, check with For in-state moves, check with your state’s commerce or transportation department.