Moving can be a stressful ordeal without any extra considerations, but when you're trusting a moving company to transport your household goods or possessions with extraordinary value, it can add an extra degree of anxiety to a move.
You may have noticed when choosing a mover that many companies advertise that they are "insured." When you use a legitimate, licensed moving company, however, you'll be given different options for valuation so you can choose the coverage that fits your needs.
Here, you'll find all your questions about moving valuation answered: what it is, what it does (and doesn't) cover, and whether it's worth purchasing full value protection for your move in the end. Here is your complete guide to moving valuation.
What Is Moving Valuation?
Moving valuation is coverage for items that are lost, destroyed, or damaged during a move, and it is the carrier’s maximum level of liability.
The federal government mandates that every licensed moving company must offer two levels of protection for the value of the cargo they're carrying when they move your household goods to a new home:
Released Valuation - Free
Also referred to as "basic carrier liability," released valuation mandates that for anything lost or damaged during the move, the moving company must reimburse you at 60 cents per pound per article. This guarantees that the company is liable for lost or damaged goods, but in the end, doesn't end up covering anywhere close to the actual value of the lost or damaged items. Most moving companies include the released valuation option in the base rate of a move at no additional cost to you.
Let's say you have a computer that's 5 lbs. You paid 1,200 dollars for it initially. Maybe the current value (with depreciation) is 1,000 dollars, giving it an actual value of 200 dollars per lb. If it gets damaged during a move, the moving company will only be mandated to reimburse you 3.00 dollars, highlighting the shortcomings of released valuation.
Full Replacement Value - About 5-6% of Total Weight
An option that tends to better account for the value of your possessions, albeit at a higher cost, is called "full replacement value." With this valuation, your possessions are covered for their current replacement value. This valuation is based on a value of your goods at $6.00 per pound and a minimum shipment value of $6,000.00. The weight of your shipment is multiplied by $6.00 to determine the carrier’s maximum liability in the event of loss or damage. For example, if your shipment weighs 10,000 pounds, the carrier’s maximum liability for all loss or damage will amount to $60,000.
The cost of this valuation is usually about 5-6 percent of the weight of your shipment. This means if you're belongings weigh 10,000 pounds, you’ll pay about $500- $600 dollars for this coverage when you move.
When a belonging of yours is damaged or lost during a move, the mover will choose between offering full reimbursement of the current value of the item, replacing the item with a like replacement, or having the item repaired when applicable.
Separate Liability Coverage - Variable
Valuation is not insurance. However, some movers may offer insurance coverage in addition to the valuation options required by the federal government. The costs and amounts of coverage associated with these plans vary between states and individual moving companies. Because there is so much variability in these plans, make sure you read your policy carefully if you opt for this route.
Declared Value and Other Considerations
If your move is extraordinarily valuable, you may want to declare the value of your shipment.
Ask your mover about your valuation options. You may decide to declare the value of your shipment rather than basing the value on the weight of the shipment. Some movers will do their coverage this way by request, allowing you an additional level of risk protection. You should understand that a moving company’s liability for items of extraordinary value (items valued at greater than 100 dollars per pound) is limited to 100 dollars per pound unless you notify the mover in writing before the move that such items will be included in your shipment. If you do not place a declared value on your shipment, the moving company’s maximum liability will be limited to $6.00 per pound times the weight of your shipment or a minimum shipment value of $6,000.00.
Before you move, make sure you understand your valuation options. If you use a legitimate, compliant company, you shouldn't run into any unforeseen circumstances, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
Before you decide to purchase any coverage from the moving company you choose beyond the basic released valuation, check with your homeowner’s insurance policy. Depending on the source and level of homeowner’s insurance you have, your policy may include riders for relocation protection, or offer you separate relocation coverage that may be a better value than anything offered by a moving company.
Is Moving Valuation Worth the Cost?
Ultimately, whether or not full value protection is worth the cost comes down to the value of your move and your willingness to accept risk. In an ideal case, you won't end up needing moving valuation, but if you're hiring a company to move valuable items, a higher level of coverage can offer some much-needed peace of mind.
To estimate your approximate moving cost, use our Moving Cost Calculator.