In the moving industry, an item worth more than $100 per pound* is a high value item. We often think of antiques, collectibles, jewelry, and electronics as high value items. And they are. However, don’t forget about expensive shoes and clothes, computer software, furniture, musical instruments, and important documents.
When you purchase insurance coverage from your mover, most moving companies will ask you to declare all high value items on an inventory form. Without this form, movers are only liable for $100 per pound per article. What does that mean? It means if you bought a 2-pound purse for $500, the moving company is only liable for $200 (i.e., 2 pounds x $100 = $200). What about your extensive video game collection? Or all those comic books you’ve had since childhood? Yep. Those are probably high value items.
It is in your best interest to complete a high value inventory form. The form helps you, and the movers, identify high value items. Movers usually take very good care of high value inventory. They use the form to make sure your items are delivered in good condition.
*Note: The definition of a high value item varies across moving companies. For example, some companies do not use the per pound measure. Instead, items worth more than $1000 are considered high value items. Ask your moving company representative how the moving company defines high value items.
Are There Any Guarantees?
Although the form is an inventory of items worth more than $100 per pound, it does not guarantee you will receive the full value of the item when you make an insurance claim. When you make a claim, you must state the amount of the claim. For example, a desk you bought for $1000 is scratched during the move. It is unlikely you will make a claim for $1000, or that the moving company will pay a $1000 claim. Instead, you may ask for $50 to repair the scratch.
Additionally, the high value inventory form does not provide proof of the item’s actual value. Before you move, get high value items appraised. For items that are not appraised, track down your receipts and make note of the purchase price of the items. Keep your receipts in one place (e.g., scan them and email them to yourself, print them and seal them in an envelope, make pdfs and save them on your computer). You may only have days after your move to file a claim. Don’t waste time searching for receipts. Familiarize yourself with your moving company’s policies and procedures for making insurance and damaged property claims.
You probably won’t get the original value for the item, but you may receive the purchase price minus depreciation (i.e., what the item is worth after subtracting the cost of wear, tear, and age). You may also receive replacement costs (i.e., what it would cost to buy the item today). For example, 10 years ago, you bought the latest model television for $1000. Today, you can get a similar television for $250. The moving company may only honor a claim for $250. Is this fair? Probably. A 10-year-old television has seen a lot of wear and tear, and a similar television bought today costs much less than $1000.
Listing items on a high value inventory form does not mean the items are fully covered. Even if the moving company provided the form, completing a high value inventory form does not guarantee your items are insured. Ask your mover about insurance coverage options and costs. Get information about insurance coverage in writing. Make sure you understand your options.
Filing an Insurance Claim
When you file a claim, use your judgement to decide what the items or repairs are worth. Do not be surprised if the moving company makes a counter offer for your claim amount. If you do not accept the counter offer, you may have to provide a written explanation for why you should get more money for that item. Use your receipts, appraisal values, and before and after pictures to justify your claim.
You should also file claims for damaged items that are not listed on the high value inventory form. For example, you bought 4 plates for $12. A mover dropped the box and you now have a box full of broken plates. File a claim for the plates. Although the items are not high value, the moving company is liable for the property damage.
Check and Double Check
Whether you purchase coverage through your moving company or not, always list your items on a high value inventory form. Use the form to keep track of your high value items before and after the move. When you arrive at your new home, make sure you account for your items before the movers leave. Check and double check.
If possible, transport high value items yourself. Keep them within sight to make sure they arrive safely at your new home. Take pictures of your items, record serial numbers, and write detailed descriptions so you can identify the items if they are lost or damaged during your move.
If your moving company has a high value inventory form, use the company’s form. Otherwise, use the Order Your Life High Value Inventory Form.
See Non-Allowables: Items Not Allowed on Moving Trucks for more information about high value items and personal possessions.