What Residents Moving from Houston Should Know about the Valuation of Their Possessions

The valuation of possessions being trucked in any move of a person, family, or business from Houston to some other locale – or from anywhere to anywhere – is stringently regulated by the federal government.

man putting books in a moving boxYes, by and large, your moving company is legally liable for any loss of or injury to your household goods at any time during the haul. It’s also liable for loss and damage while its crews are handling your possessions in fulfillment of any other Houston moving services you authorized. Such services should be spelled out on the bill of lading: packing, unpacking, disassembly and reassembly, for example.

There are, however, limits to your moving company’s liability. Those limits are determined by the federal Surface Transportation Board’s Released Rates Order. You can look at a current copy of it here.

The essential thing is, know what choices are open to you for the safety of your belongings. And know your Houston moving company. Just because a mover tells you his business is “fully insured and bonded” is no pledge that your possessions themselves are automatically covered. Also, your local mover being affiliated with a leading national van line is no promise that you’re protected either. In both cases, you may be required to acquire added third-party liability insurance. Your mover could offer to sell it to you, but he has no legal obligation to do so. Ask questions when you first talk in order to figure out  precisely what’s necessary.

Keep this in mind when you’re researching your choices here in Houston: Two different degrees of moving-company liability pertain to interstate moves – Full Replacement-Value Protection and Waiver of Full Replacement-Value Protection, or Released Value.

 A-1 Freeman Moving Group Houston Moving Terms Infographic


Without doubt, Full Replacement-Value Protection gives you the most all-embracing coverage. But selecting it means the price of your move will be higher. With this level of liability (subject to allowable exceptions in your mover’s tariff), your mover will either take care of whatever repairs are advisable to reconvert a damaged piece to the condition it was in when you first gave it to him and his crew … or he’ll replace it more. Regardless of what valuation you and your mover mutually consent to, it has to appear on your mover’s tariff. Note also that movers are empowered to limit their Full Replacement-Value liability for loss or damage of pieces valued exceptionally high. Those would be belongings valued at $100 or more per pound, such as jewelry, antiques, silverware, china, oriental rugs, and so on. Get an explanation of all this from your mover. Ultimately, though, it falls on your shoulders to declare accurately.

If you go for a Waiver of Full Replacement-Value Protection, or Released Value, you will, of course, be getting minimal liability protection. But you won’t pay anything for it. What this level of protection does is limit your mover’s liability to no more than 60 cents per pound, per article. Obviously, that wouldn’t give you enough of a reimbursement to replace any item valued above 60 cents per pound! Things like stereo equipment, gym equipment, computer hardware, and computer software are thus significantly more at risk. That’s something to think about before you sign a contract!

You could, though, have one other option: your present homeowner’s policy. Go over it and consult with your insurance agent to see if there’s anything in it related to coverage of goods during a relocation. If so, you might find the minimum level of mover liability coverage – Released Value – acceptable.

Just make sure you understand what degree of protection your moving company is including in his quote: Full Protection or Released Value. That way, your move won’t slap you with any totally unanticipated surprises!


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