Moving can be an extremely stressful experience. Some individuals contract with a professional moving company in order to make the moving process easier.
There are several reasons why an individual may hire a moving company, which may include, but are not limited to:
- Peace of mind that the movers know how to best handle the individual’s belongings and keep them safe;
- Assurance that the movers will be reliable, whereas relying on family and friends to help during a move may be troublesome;
- Assurance of a specific date and time in which an individual’s belongings will arrive to their destination, as most moving companies pride themselves on providing prompt and professional services; or
- An efficient solution for handling heavy or bulky items.
These are just a few reasons why an individual who is moving may decide to hire a professional moving company as opposed to moving themselves or relying on family and friends. It is important for an individual to do their research prior to hiring a moving company in order to ensure that their belongings are protected.
Some of the steps that an individual can take to find a reputable moving company include:
- Obtaining referrals;
- Gathering cost estimates;
- Carefully reviewing the moving contract; and
- Reviewing the moving company insurance policy.
An individual can obtain referrals by searching the internet or by asking family and friends if they have used certain moving services which they would recommend. In addition, if an individual is working with a real estate agent, the agent may be aware of some reputable professional moving companies they can contact. It is important to work with individuals who have good reputations in order to protect belongings and have them delivered in a safe and timely manner.
When gathering cost estimates, it is important to be aware that moving companies will likely not provide a full, comprehensive cost estimate without first seeing an individual’s belongings as well as estimating how much work it will take to complete the job.
An experienced moving company, however, will be able to provide an individual with their best estimate. It is advisable to gather at least three estimates prior to making a decision because the estimates will likely be similar.
It is best to avoid any companies who appear to be charging considerably less than others in the area. Another cost effective measure is hiring a company that has its own trucks because they will likely cost less than those who are required to rent trucks.
It is important to review moving contracts prior to signing. Reputable moving companies will readily answer any questions a potential client may have prior to signing a contract before signing it.
The contract should at least cover an individual’s responsibilities as the client as well as whether the moving company will subcontract the work. The contract should also include provisions regarding what will occur if the individual’s property is damaged or misplaced.
A moving company will maintain limited liability and recovery from the company may also be limited by the type of insurance the company carries. An individual may wish to purchase additional insurance for their move if they have particularly expensive or meaningful belongings.
Is a Moving Company Liable for Damaging My Possessions?
Yes, a moving company is liable for damaging an individual’s possessions, but only up to a certain amount. Federal laws require that all moving companies provide a minimum amount of liability coverage for their possessions when they move.
The amount, however, is typically minimal. If an individual is crossing state lines, the moving company is liable for 60 cents per pound of the individual’s possessions.
If an individual is moving within the state, the coverage must meet the minimum requirement of that state, however, this is typically only 30 cents per pound. Because the weight of items for an average move ranges from around 1 ton, a small apartment, to 7 tons, a large house, the coverage typically ranges between $1,200 and $9,000 of protection.
Considering that an average television weighs around 10 pounds, the moving company would only be liable for $6 of repairs or replacement if the TV was damaged. This is why an individual should consider purchasing additional insurance for their items if they hire a moving company.
What Kind of Additional Insurance Can I Get?
Federal laws require that moving companies offer three types of insurance, including:
- Declared value protection;
- Lump sum protection; and
- Full value protection.
Under a declared value protection plain, the weight of the entire shipment is multiplied by $1.25 to determine the total amount of liability. Each individual item, however, is protected for its fully depreciated value.
This means that if a stereo worth $1,000 suffers $200 worth of damage, the moving company will pay $200. If, however, the stereo is lost, the moving company will pay the full $1,000.
The moving company, however, will not pay more than the maximum amount of coverage. The price of this type of insurance is typically charged at a rate of $7 per $1,000 of liability.
Lump sum protection may be useful if an individual’s possessions are worth significantly more than their poundage. The individual can declare the actual value of the items instead of the $1.25 times the poundage requirement discussed above.
Under this plan, the moving company will assume the liability for the entire amount but will only charge the $7 per $1,000 of liability fee. This type of coverage is a good choice for moving art, jewelry, or other high-end items which are worth much more than their weight.
The full value protection plan is the most comprehensive of the three types of insurance. This plan ensures that the moving company will be required to replace or repair all of the items at their original value and no limit to the coverage applies.
Because this type of insurance completely protects the individual’s items, it will be more expensive and the actual price will vary between companies. The price is also affected by how much of a deductible the individual is willing to provide, which is typically in $250, $500, and $1,000 increments.
Are There Any Other Protections I Can Take?
There are some states that do not hold moving companies liable for any items they do not pack themselves, so an individual should inquire regarding the policies in that area. In addition, an individual should always research the moving company thoroughly prior to entrusting their possessions to them because the industry is rife with scammers and extortionists.
If an individual still owns their previous home, their possessions may be covered by their homeowner’s insurance, which is far more protective than any of the policies discussed above. Because most individuals move after selling their home, this may not apply.
An individual can contact their homeowner’s insurance representative for more information.
Do I Need an Attorney?
It can be extremely difficult to sue a moving company if something goes wrong during a move. If you have suffered damages because of a moving company or if the moving company refuses to deliver or has lost some of your items, a qualified insurance attorney will be very helpful in getting your items or damages back.
The federal laws governing these issues are very complex, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible who will be able to explain what your rights are and your coverage in the situation. Your attorney can also assist you in filing a lawsuit to obtain damages, if possible.