General Insurance Information
All interstate moving companies are required to assume liability for the value of the goods which they transport. However, there are different levels of liability and consumers should be aware of the amount of protection provided and the charges for each option. Basically, most movers offer four different levels of liability under the terms of their tariffs and pursuant to federally approved Release Rates Orders which govern the moving industry. These four levels (options) are described below.
Option 1: Released Value
This is the most economical protection option available. This no-additional-cost option provides minimal protection. Under this option, the mover assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound, per article. Loss or damage claims are settled based on the pound weight of the article multiplied by 60 cents. For example, is a 10 pound stereo component, valued at $1000 were lost or destroyed, the mover would be liable for no more than $6.00. Obviously, you should think carefully before agreeing to such an arrangement. There is no extra charge for this minimal protection, but you must sign a specific statement on the bill of lading agreeing to it.
Option 2: Declared Value
Under this option, the valuation of your shipment is based on the total weight of the shipment times $1.25 per pound. For example, a 4000 pound shipment would have a maximum liability value of $5000.00. Any loss or damage claim under this option is settled based upon the depreciated value of the lost or damaged item(s) up to the maximum liability value based on the weight of the entire shipment. Under this option, if you shipped a 10 pound stereo component that originally cost $1000, the mover would be liable for up to $1000, based on the depreciated value of the item. Unless you specifically agree to other arrangements, the mover is required to assume liability for the entire shipment based on this option. Also, the mover is entitled to charge you $7.00 for each $1000 (or fraction thereof) of liability assumed for shipments transported under this option. In the example above, the valuation charge for a shipment valued at $5000 would be $35.00.
Option 3: Lump Sum Value
Under this option, which is similar to Option 2, if the value of your shipment exceeds $1.25 per pound times the weight of the shipment, you may obtain additional liability coverage from the mover. You do this by declaring a specific dollar value for your shipment. The amount you declare must exceed $1.25 per pound times the weight of the shipment. The amount of value that you declare is subject to the same valuation charge ($7.00 per $1000) as described in Option 2. For example if you declare that your 4000 pound shipment is worth $10,000 (instead of the $5000 under Option 2), the mover will charge you $7.00 for each $1000 of declared value, or $70.00, for this increased level of liability. If you ship articles that are unusually expensive, you may wish to declare this extra value. You must make this declaration in writing on the bill of lading.
Option 4: Full Value Protection
Many interstate movers offer a fourth level of added-value protection, often referred to as "full value protection" or "full replacement value". If you elect to purchase full value protection, articles that are lost, damaged or destroyed will be either repaired, replaced with like items or a cash settlement will be made for the current market replacement value, regardless of the age of the lost or damaged item. Unlike the other options, depreciation of the lost or damaged item is not a factor in determining replacement value when the shipment is moved under full value protection. The exact cost for full value protection may vary by mover and may be further subject to various deductible levels of liability which may reduce your cost. Ask your mover for the specific details of its plan.
Under these four options, movers are permitted to limit their liability for loss or damage to articles of extraordinary value, unless you specifically list these articles on the shipping documents. An article of extraordinary value is any item whose value exceeds $100 per pound. Ask your mover for a complete explanation of this limitation before your move. It is your responsibility to study this provision carefully and to make the necessary declaration.
These optional levels of liability are not insurance agreements which are governed by state insurance laws, but instead are authorized Released Rates Orders of the Surface Transportation Board of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In addition to the above options, your mover can also sell you, or procure for you, seperate liability insurance if you release your shipment for transportation at a value of 60 cents per pound per article (Option 1). Then, in the event of loss or damage which is the responsibility of the mover, the mover is liable only for an amount not exceeding 60 cents per pound per article and the balance of the loss is recoverable from the insurance company (up to the amount of the insurance purchased). The mover's representative can advise you of the availability of such liability insurance and the cost. If you purchase liability insurance from or through your mover, the mover is required to issue a policy or other written record of the purchase and to provide you with a copy of the policy or other document at the time of purchase. If the mover fails to comply with this requirement, the mover becomes fully liable for any claim for loss or damage attributed to its negligence.