Moving with Movers: Understanding the Documents You Sign

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Understanding the documents you sign is something that customers should know when moving with professional movers. Here are some tips to understanding the paperwork before signing and what to ask so you understand all the legalities about your move. We want all of our customers with Mesa Moving & Storage to feel safe and happy during their move. Many feel too embarrassed to ask to explain the fine print before signing, such as when we purchase a car or when a document looks complex because we feel it makes us look unintelligent, but there is nothing wrong with asking! It will save you more hassle and issues in the future.


Customer is referred to a “shipper”, and when the shipper is not well informed about valuation, coverage of personal belongings, inventories, and exclusions for liability many instances there is a misunderstanding. Most of the paperwork has to do with loss prevention.


One of the most important things to understand is valuation. Valuation simply means the “degree of worth” of the shipment you are sending with the moving company. You will be asked to declare the value of your shipment and how much coverage you want in the event there is damage, including if your entire shipment were destroyed through some type of accident. It is important to know how much all your belongings are worth.


Talking about damage to your belongings is not something anyone likes to think about, anymore than you would if you were in a car lot buying a new car. Talking about the risk of damage isn’t a palatable topic in any industry. But in reality you know that in the back of your mind before you drive your new car off the lot, you need auto insurance to protect you from the “what if”. Moving is no different. Everything you spend years accumulating will be loaded onto a truck and transported on highways and roads where there is risk. Therefore, moving companies offer coverage for you belongings while they are being shipped.


It is important to know that you are not purchasing insurance from the moving company, you are purchasing coverage, known as a tariff provision, based on the value, or valuation, of your entire shipment. If you don’t purchase any additional coverage, your moving company will only be liable for sixty cents per pound per item if it is damaged. To put it in perspective if you have a DVD player that is destroyed and it weights two pounds, the settlement you would receive would be $1.20. That is not very much; especially if something were to happen to your entire shipment, so most prefer to purchase full value protection to have adequate coverage for you belongings.


If you purchase additional coverage, such as a type of full protection coverage you will be charged based on the value that you place on your shipment. The exact cost may vary on mover and have minimum purchase amounts, as well as deductibles.

Having full value protection is not replacement insurance, but it does give the mover the options of:

  1. Repairing any damages to an item to its original condition
  2. Paying for such repairs
  3. Replacing the article with an article of like kind
  4. Paying you the cost of a replacement article at the current market value


Many people believe that when they have, “full coverage insurance,” on their belongings they believe that if anything (even a scratch) were to happen on anything they own it will be replaced. That is not how moving coverage works.


When something is damaged the topic of what is repairable and what is not may become subjective. Do not hurry and read and understand your paperwork before signing it, that way you don’t have regrets and frustrations if damage occurs. Before you sign, ask your salesperson or moving coordinator who explains your paperwork to you and make sure you understand what you are signing and what type of coverage you have for you move.


Another term to be aware of is PBO, this means cartons are “packed by owner.” If the moving company packs the cartons for you this is CP or “carrier packed.” Moving companies do not cover items in cartons that they did not pack, because they have no control over the quality of the packing. Make sure you have packing protection and padding if you are packing cartons yourself.


It is important to understand exclusions and limits of liability that occurs with any coverage your moving company provides. Make sure to understand these terms and feel free to ask your mover. It is what you should do to protect your belongings in the event something is lost or damaged.


Inventories are something you will need to sign when you arrive to your destination. The inventories are a list of everything that is being shipped, and you must sign them before and after your move to make sure everything is delivered. It is your responsibility to walk through and check off everything and most importantly that you make notes on if anything is damaged during the unloading.


When you check off everything on your inventories and sign that everything is received, you are stating that there are no missing items. Take the time to do a careful walk-through before the movers leave; if anything is not checked off on the inventories take time to locate it. If you sign the document and find something is missing or damaged make note of it on the inventories before the movers leave. Both you and the driver should mutually confirm, document, and sign for any cargo or loss and any residence damage.

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Gallacher, Ken. Moving without a Scratch. 2010. Print.


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