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Your Responsibilities and Rights when Moving

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Your Responsibilities and Rights when Moving
Your Responsibilities and Rights when Moving

The regulations of the FMCSA define the responsibilities and rights of interstate household item transporters and interstate shippers in order to protect consumers. It is each individual’s responsibility to read and comprehend the terms of a moving contract and know how to react if problems appear. 

Interstate Transportation

FMCSA rules apply to auto transportation companies engaged in interstate moves and also to the brokers that organize these transports. The mover is required to provide certain services accompanied by specific paperwork. He/she is bound by this rule only if he carries household goods via a motor vehicle to another state in the United States or internationally. This specific rule is not applicable if the move is made within a business area or between 2 locations of a state in the U.S.

Legitimate Brokers and Movers

Brokers and movers need to register with the FMCSA in order to legally handle the interstate moving of household items. A broker can arrange the shipment of goods, but he cannot arrange line-haul carrying. A household item mover is the one that executes the transport of your items.

Household movers or brokers are required by law to provide clients certain information before the actual move: 

  • An estimate (provided in writing),
  • The specialized brochure “Ready to move” (either on paper or a link to view it online),
  • Details concerning the arbitration program of the mover,
  • Notice on the accessibility of the mover’s rates (in writing), 
  • Details on the handling claims process,
  • The moving responsibilities and rights booklet (or a link to view it online).

It is not recommended to hire movers and brokers that aren’t registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, that refuse to do an evaluation of your items, and who demand to be paid only in cash. The registration of a mover or broker with the FMCSA can be verified through the website protectyourmove.gov or by directly calling the association.

Your Responsibilities 

Customers have responsibilities to themselves and to their movers. These include: 

  • Verifying all the documentation supplied by the broker or mover;
  • Making themselves available for both the pickup and the delivery of the shipment at the announced time. They can also nominate someone to handle this matter on their behalf;
  • Notifying the company if something changed regarding the shipment (e.g. the addition of other items);
  • Making the payment in the previously agreed method and amount;
  • Filling loss, delay, or damage claims promptly if needed.

Estimates

Interstate moves have two important components that need to be understood: the available types of offered estimates and the liability of the mover in case of damage or loss. Movers offer two kinds of estimates: non-binding and binding. The selected type will determine the calculation method of the shipment’s cost. The estimate will include information regarding 2 options for liability coverage: 

  1. Replacement / Full Value Protection;
  2. A Waiver of Replacement / Full Value Protection (payment of 60 cents for each pound of the declared value).

Movers are required by the FMCSA to provide estimates in writing for each shipment they handle. Verbal quotes are not considered official estimates, as it is mandatory for them to be presented in writing. The written estimate must contain all charges: advances and accessorial charges, transportation, etc., and it must be officially signed and dated by both the mover and the customer.

For transports within a radius of 50 miles of the mover’s office, the estimate should be contingent on an official survey of the household items, unless the requirement is waived in writing by the customer before loading the shipment. 

A broker can supply an estimate in the name of a mover only if he possesses a written agreement between him and the carrier and if he uses the published rates of the mover.

If circumstances change before loading the shipment, the mover and the client can change the charges’ estimate upon agreement. A mover cannot modify an estimate if the shipment has been loaded.

Incomplete or blank estimates should not be signed, as they could be used to alter the transport’s terms, including the rates, without the customer’s consent or knowledge. 

Binding Estimates

By signing such an estimate, a client is assured that he will not be requested to pay a higher amount of money noted in the document. However, if additional items are added to the shipment or if additional services are requested, the client and the mover may fall in agreement to either comply with the initial binding estimate, transform the existing estimate to a non-binding one, or negotiate a new estimate.

If another binding estimate is not provided in writing by the mover, or if he does not put in writing his agreement to transform the estimate into a non-binding one before loading your goods, the initial estimate remains in effect. In this particular case, the carrier should not collect or charge an amount higher than the sum stipulated in the initial binding estimate.

In the eventuality where unpredictable circumstances like stairs, elevators, needing permits to park, etc. appear at the delivery point, the transporter is permitted to bill for the extra expenses after a period of thirty days from the delivery date. Services resulted from impracticable operations are paid at the time of delivery, but they cannot exceed 15% of the charges that are normally paid at delivery. The client will be charged for other pending fees in thirty days.

If the client is not able to pay all of the fees on his binding estimate, the mover can place the articles in storage at the expense of the client until the charges are paid in full (including the storage fees).

Movers may ask for a random fee in order to draft the quote.

Non-Binding Quotes/ Estimates

Non-binding estimates provide clients with an approximate cost for the move. While it is reasonably accurate, such an estimate does not offer any guarantee regarding the final costs of the transportation service. The document must specify that the final cost may change depending on the weight of the objects, the services you’ve picked, and the published rates of the mover. Therefore, the sum that will be requested in the end may not be the same as the amount mentioned in the non-binding quote. 

Non-binding estimates must be presented in writing. They should clearly specify the load that is to be transported and the ensemble of services provided. Movers cannot request a payment higher than 110% when delivering your belongings if they‘ve given you a non-binding quote. However, the client must pay in full all fees. The remaining charges, if applicable, will be billed by the carrier after a period of 30 days.

Movers must give back the customer’s possessions, if he/she pays 110% of non-binding estimates, or 100% of binding estimates and an additional 15% of impracticable operations fees (depending on the situation). If movers do not hand over the goods, they violate Federal law by holding the items hostage. 

Client’s Claims and Mover’s Liability

Movers are generally liable by law for damage or loss that happens during the shipping process or when performing related services identifiable through the moving contract.

The level of the liability is controlled by the Released Rates Order of the Surface Transportation Board. Additionally, the mover may try to sell a 3rd party’s liability insurance. 

Movers are liable for the monetary value of the shipments they manage. There are 2 applicable liability levels for interstate shipments: 

  • Full Value Protection
  • Waiver of Full Value Protection. 

It is imperative that clients understand the applicable charges and the protection offered by each option. 

Full Value Protection

While it increases the price of a move, this liability level offers the highest level of protection for household items. The initial estimate received from any mover includes the costs of this liability level. For a shipment to be moved with a different liability level, the client needs to remove Full Value Protection. Using this liability level, subject to the exceptions presented in the mover’s rates, carriers will choose a course of action in the eventuality of the loss, destruction or damage of an article in his custody. Therefore, they may: 

  • Repair the item in order to reinstate the condition it was presented in at the pick-up or pay the client for the price of those repairs,
  • Replace the item with an identical article, or pay the client for the price of the replacement.

The final cost of the move, with the Full Value Protection liability included, varies from one mover to another, and it may even be subject to diverse deductible levels which could reduce the amount that needs to be paid in the end.

The minimum amount you need to pay to get Full Value Protection for a transport is $6 for each pound of cargo. However, movers are allowed to request a larger sum for the minimum liability rates. The charges applicable for the Full Value Protection service must be specified in the mover’s rates and presented to the client. 

Movers are allowed to limit the liability for damage or loss of items of great value, if the client does not specifically name those articles in the paperwork. Items of great value are those whose value surpasses $100 for each pound (e.g. silverware, furs, china, jewelry, computer software, oriental rugs, antiques, etc.). Clients should ask their carrier for a comprehensive explanation of the limitation before the move. Clients have to write down the proper declarations concerning their shipment. 

Waiving Full Value Protection for your Move

A minimal protection is conferred through the released value option, offered to all clients at no additional cost. By waiving the full value protection, the company covers as liability a maximum of 60 cents of each pound in the shipment. For example, in the eventuality where a stereo component of 10 pounds with a value of $1,000 was destroyed or lost, the carrier would have to pay only $6. 

3rd Party Insurance

When clients choose to purchase 3rd party shipment liability insurance, either directly from the mover or through the mover, they are entitled to a written record / a policy of the purchase. If movers do not comply with providing documentation, they become liable for claims of goods’ damage or loss attributed to the displayed negligence. 

Goods shipped under a carrier’s contract can be subjected to arbitration if a dispute occurs either over damage or loss claims. However, such disputes are put under arbitration if the policy is issued by an external insurance company, as their operations are not sanctioned by the FMCSA. Insurance providers are sanctioned according to the law in their respective states.

Reducing Normal Liability for Movers

The following actions may reduce or limit the liability of movers in case of damage or loss to your items: 

  1. When the omissions or acts of a client are the cause for the damage or loss of an item. These include improper packaging for containers or the inclusion of dangerous, hazardous, or perishable materials in the shipment without announcing the mover. Transporting hazardous materials together with household items without having informed the mover is forbidden by Federal law.
  2. When the client opts to sign a Waiver for his Full Value Protection, but the shipped household items have a value higher than the released liability level of 60 cents for each pound. 
  3. The client declares a lower value for the shipment.
  4. The client fails to notify the carrier in writing concerning articles with a value higher than $100 for each pound. (If the mover is not notified, the client qualifies for a full recovery of the sum lost as long as the amount is not higher than the declared full worth of the shipment.)

Damage and Loss Claims

Movers usually take all available precautions to ensure that while household goods are in their care, there won’t be any items damaged, destroyed, or lost. However, despite all precautions, items are sometimes destroyed or lost during the transport. In those situations, clients have cause to get a claim filed with the mover and receive compensation.

There’s a period of nine months since the delivery date during which clients can file their claims.  The request should be made in writing directly to the carrier or to the 3rd party insurance company in order for the claim to be processed. After the submission, the carrier has thirty days to recognize its receipt and 120 days from that moment to provide a disposition to the client. 60-day extensions might be allocated to the mover when the claim can’t be properly processed or is annulled within the next 120 days. 

Claims of Delay

Claims of delay are only processed if the client contracted guaranteed services for delivery and pickup from a specific carrier. The mover will specify penalty entitlements in his contract for any delivery or pickup delays.

Moving Paperwork

Incomplete or blank documents should not be signed. Before signing any documents, clients should verify that they are complete. The only missing information that is acceptable for moving documentation are the real weight of the articles, for non-binding estimates, and unplanned expenses that might appear in transit.

Service Order

Movers are required to make a service order for each shipment. Any service order should contain the following fourteen elements:

  • The address, name, and USDOT number of the mover.
  • The name, telephone number and address of the client.
  • The information (name, telephone number, and address) of the agent or office making the delivery, or of the office closest to the cargo’s destination.
  • The phone number where the client may contact the mover or the assigned agent.
  • At least 1 of the 3 following times and dates:
    1. The pickup and delivery dates agreed upon between the two parties,
    2. The time period for the entire shipment agreed upon by the two parties,
    3. If the shipment takes the form of a guaranteed service, the guaranteed times and dates for transportation, delivery, and pickup are needed. The mover should enter any per diem or penalty requirements as agreed with the client.
    4. The addresses and names of other vehicle carriers that are known to take part in the shipping process.
    5. The payment method accepted at delivery. It should be the exact same payment type that was specified in the quote.
    6. The conditions and terms for the total payment, including notice for any minimum fees.
    7. The max. sum the mover will ask for, according to the information entered in the estimate, in order to give the goods at delivery when the transport is marked as collect upon delivery.
    8. A description of all accessory or special services, as well as of the minimum volume or weight fees that apply to the transport.
    9. The registration or identification number the carrier gives to the transport.
    10. Information on charges for transports that have non-binding estimates: a reasonable accurate estimation for the fees, as well as the maximum sum (110% of the estimate) the carrier will request at delivery in order to release the goods to the client.
    11. Information on charges for transports that have binding estimates: the sum a carrier will request according to a binding estimate, as well as the payment terms.
    12. Contact information for the client so that he can receive notifications on the fees before the time of delivery if the client requests this information.

The client must receive the service order’s copy once it is completed, as it is a crucial component of the contract between him and the carrier. If the client decides to delay or cancel the move, or if he decides to use a different carrier, he should have the order canceled. If the shipment is cancelled more than 3 days after the service order is signed, the mover may apply a penalty charge.

The service order provides the client with approval of the contracted services (in writing) for a particular shipment. The document details the delivery and pickup dates of the shipment, the contracted liability, as well as any particular services that the client requested. It also gives the carrier an address and phone number where he can contact the client during the transport.

The service order also details the assessed charges for the move. If the client opts for a non-binding quote, the service order will detail the sum related to the charges, the chosen payment method, as well as fees that may appear before the loading of the shipment. If the client moves according to a binding quote, the service order will detail the costs that must be covered and the payment terms. The service order must be signed by both the mover and the client for it to come into effect.

The mover has to supply a written change to the service order, if either him or the client change any of the delivery or pickup dates they agreed upon, or if they agree to change any information in the estimate. The document that details the change must accompany the service order.

Inventory

The mover must make an inventory of the transport. These notes are normally taken while loading the shipment. Any unusual wear or damage of any item must be listed in the paperwork. The goal of the inventory is to register the condition and existence of each article before it gets shipped away.

At the end, both the client and the carrier have to sign the documentation on each page. The client should verify that every article he’s moving is in the inventory, and that the state of each one is accurately registered, before signing the document. The client can specify if he is in disagreement with any of the information registered during the inventory. If an article is found damaged or missing at the moment of delivery, the client can reference to the notes made during inventory to recover his loss.

The client will receive a copy of the paperwork that he must attach to his copy of the moving contract. The inventory documentation represents the receipt of the client for the transport.

When the items are delivered, it is the client’s responsibility to have the shipment checked against the articles listed in the inventory. If the client discovers new damage, he should note it in the inventory documentation. The client should bring any new damage or problems to the carrier’s attention and demand that he note the situation on his inventory copy as well.

When the entire shipment gets unloaded, the carrier will ask the client to sign his inventory copy to prove that he received all the listed articles. The client should not sign the document before making sure the information noted is valid and appropriate annotations have been made in case of damaged or missing articles. It is not legal for movers to ask clients to sign paperwork that releases them from any liability for damage or loss to the transport in order to deliver their property.

Bill of Lading

The mover has to draft a contract for any shipment he handles. The information written in it must coincide to the one written on the service order. The driver that handles the loading process has to hand the client a copy of the bill of lading either before loading the items or at the same time. The contract is of high importance and the client should not misplace or lose it, as he should keep it at hand until the time of delivery, or until all claims are settled and all charges are paid.

This contract obliges the client to pay all the charges associated with the services that were performed and the carrier to provide all the requested services. It’s the responsibility of each client to read the contract before signing it. If a client is not in agreement with the information written in the moving contract, he is entitled to refuse signing it until he confirms the information is valid.

The contract is meant to name the carrier and specify the time and date when the shipment is meant to be conducted. The client should verify this portion of the document and make sure he agrees with the registered dates for delivery and pickup. The conditions and terms of the payment are also registered in the bill of lading along with the maximum sum that should be prepared at delivery for a transport contracted using a binding quote/estimate. 

For transports operating through non-binding quotes, the contract will not mention a total amount for the charges, because the sum cannot be defined before weighing the shipment. However, all other relevant information regarding the shipment should be noted in the contract – except for any unforeseen expenses that might occur on the road and the weight of the cargo which will be calculated after the weighing process. 

Any moving contract must contain information on the following elements:

  • The address and name of the moving company, or those of the carrier that is issuing the contract. 
  • The addresses and names of all of the movers that will take part in the transport.
  • The address, telephone number, and name of the carrier’s contact office for any issues associated with the transport.
  • The accepted payment method at the moment of delivery. The information on the payment must coincide with the information put on the service order and on the estimate.
  • The address, telephone number and name of the client should be noted. This way, he/she may get informed about possible changes. The information is necessary if the transport is made on a collect-on-delivery basis.
  • The dates for delivery and pickup for all the services that are not guaranteed.
  • The delivery and pickup dates, as well as entitlements and penalties for the client under the written contract.
  • The real date for the pickup.
  • Identification information for the automobiles in which the mover will load the items.
  • The conditions and terms for paying the charges, as well as a notice for the minimum payment. 
  • The maximum sum that will be requested from the client, according to the estimate of the mover, in order for him to receive the shipment at delivery, for transports where the payment is to be collected upon delivery.
  • Proof of insurance purchased from the mover or from a 3rd party insurance company, as well as the sum of premium insurance.
  • All attachments to the contract. Each attached document is officially part of the contract. If the mover didn’t provide the following documents at a previous time, they should be attached to the bill of lading:
  1. The non-binding or binding estimate,
  2. The service order,
  3. The inventory paperwork.
  • The 2 liability options that the client will select from.

The contract’s copy must remain with the shipment during transportation, whether it is with the mover or with the designated agents. At the moment of loading, the contract has to be with the driver that is in charge of the move. 

Freight Bill

When the client pays the transportation bill, he will receive the freight bill from the mover in order to identify the provided services and the cost for each one. It is not unusual for carriers to use one of the contract’s copies as the freight bill. However, if a transport is operated using a binding quote, the freight bill must contain information on every service, the rate / service, and the cost for every service. If any of these details are missing from the freight bill, the client should not sign the document. 

The mover has to deliver a transport if 100% of a binding quote is paid or 110% of a non-binding quote, as well as the cost of extra services that he requested after the execution of the contract and fees for an impracticable operation, as long as they do not exceed 15% of the other fees due at the moment of delivery. If the client does not pay the moving costs in time for delivery, the mover can, under the signed contract, refuse the delivery of the shipment. The carrier may place the goods in storage, at the expense of the client, until the due costs are paid in full. 

For shipments where the client made the payment in advance, the mover has to present his copy of the freight bill for every charge that occurred during the transport in a period of 15 days since the date of delivery, excluding Federal holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

For transports paid at the moment of delivery, the transporter must present the freight bill for any charges during delivery, or at his discretion, in maximum 15 days since delivery (excluding Federal holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays). Any bill for extra fees according to the total weight of the transported articles will be issued after thirty days from the delivery date; taxes of impracticable operations that were not acquitted when the cargo was delivered are due in a period of 30 days maximum since the invoice was issued. 

The transporter’s notices and freight bills must contain the following information:

  1. Late payment penalties,
  2. Credit extension periods,
  3. Finance or service charges,
  4. Charges for collection expenses,
  5. Terms for any applicable discounts.

Weight Tickets

The mover has to get weight tickets for all shipments that are transported under non-binding estimates. Each time a cargo is weighed, the weight master must release and sign a weight ticket. If the weighing is done using one scale, the records can be registered on a single ticket. Weight tickets have to accompany the freight bill. 

Weight tickets must include the following information:

  • The scale’s location and name.
  • The date on which the items were weighed.
  • Weight entries’ identification (tare, net, or gross weights).
  • The identification number of the company’s or the mover’s truck.
  • The responsible shipper’s last name as it is registered in the contract.
  • The registration of the mover or the number of the contract.

Collecting Charges

The transporter must issue a truthful expense or freight contract for each transport he operates. The client will have to pay one of the following sums at the moment of delivery:

  1. 100% of the fees noted in the binding estimate.
  2. 110% of the fees noted in the non-binding quotes.

The client will have to pay for any additional service he requested after the execution of the contract (e.g. extra delivery or pickup, storage, waiting time) that weren’t added to the quote. He must also pay any fees related to impracticable operations as long as they do not exceed 15% of the other fees due in the moment of delivery. Any unpaid service will be billed to the client after the delivery of the shipment. 

The client should check what payment methods are accepted by the mover. The information should be presented in writing by the mover in the service order and the transportation contract. The client should not assume that the transporter will accept credit card payments unless this is indicated in the contract and on the service order. 

If the client fails to pay the sum due at delivery, the transporter can refuse to perform the delivery and place the shipment into storage at the expense of the client until the amount due is paid in full. FMCSA regulations specify that the mover is able to collect taxes before unloading the shipment after having arrived at the destination.

If a shipment is moved by multiple trucks, the carrier can request for each transport to be paid when it is delivered. The client may delay paying fees until the delivery of the shipment in full only at the discretion of the mover. The client should inquire the transporter about this fact when he contracts his/her services.

The mover is entitled to collecting charges for the portion of the goods that was delivered successfully. As an example, if a shipment has a binding quote of $1,000 to transport 1,000 lb. of items and only 50% of the items get delivered successfully, then the carrier can collect just $500 (50% of the quote). If the signed estimate is a non-binding one, then the mover is entitled to 50% of the fees as long as they do not exceed 110% of the non-binding estimate (max. $550).

The mover is unable to collect or ask the customer to pay additional freight fees (including taxes for terminal or accessorial services) when the shipment is destroyed completely or lost during transport, unless the destruction or loss was caused by an omission or act of the client. 

Pickup & Delivery

The client and the mover should agree upon the delivery and pickup dates before the move. The transporter must enter the dates when drafting the moving contract and the service order. When loading the shipment, the mover is bound to perform the services detailed in the contract.

The transporter might refer to the time frame during which the client can expect the delivery to be made as “delivery spread”. This would signify that the goods could arrive at any given time during the specified time frame. However, a full-day notice is usually given before the arrival of the shipment. If the client is not available to receive the shipment during the announced delivery spread, he risks having the articles put in storage at his expense.

When the mover and the client pick a specific delivery date, the client must be available to take on the delivery. The same principle applies when the client and the transporter agree upon alternate dates for delivery.

The client should not allow the shipment to be delivered or picked up ”soon”. The dates agreed upon should always be clearly defined.

Movers will usually agree to date changes requested by their clients as long as the changes do not cause unreasonable delays or inhibit other scheduled transports. However, the carrier is not obligated to modify the delivery date and can place the articles in storage at the expense of the client if the customer is not able to receive the shipment on the date they agreed on.

The mover may not provide a service only in case of a “force majeure” event, meaning that an unforeseen circumstance outside the carrier’s control appeared. For example, in the event of a serious storm that prevents a carrier from delivering the shipment as mentioned in the contract, the mover cannot be held responsible for the damages that might result from the nonperformance. 

If the transporter fails to deliver or pick up the goods on the agreed upon date, and the client has expenses that he wouldn’t have had otherwise, he may recover his money from the carrier through claiming a delay of the shipment.

The mover has to give written notice to the client in case the storage time is bound to expire with the following information:

  • The date when the in-transit storage will convert to permanent storage.
  • The nine-month time frame after the date when the storage becomes permanent, in which the client can file claims for damage or loss of his shipment against the mover if the damage or loss of the articles took place during storage or while in transit.
  • The ending time of the carrier’s liability for damage and loss.
  • The date and time when the goods of the client will start being subjected to the regulations, charges and rules of the storage facility management.

Weighing Transports

If the carrier operates under a non-binding quote, he has to determine the real weight of the transport using a certified scale if he wants to calculate the legal rates for the shipment. If the mover operates under a binding quote, the rates will not be affected by the weight of the goods. Therefore, there isn’t a need to weigh the shipments handled according to binding quotes. 

Most carriers apply a minimal weight charge for each one of their transports. If a shipment weighs less than the carrier’s min. weight, its paperwork should have the minimum applicable price on the service order. If the mover does not inform the client of these costs and his goods weigh less than minimum, the client can pay the going rate for the real weight of the shipment.

Weighing the shipment usually takes place in a local area or in the city where the pickup is scheduled. The company’s representative will weigh the truck before the pickup, and then weigh it once more after loading the goods. The difference between the 2 weights comprises the shipment’s weight.

The carrier may also have the shipment weighed at the moment of delivery. In this scenario, the representative will weigh the truck with the cargo on board before weighing it a 2nd time after having unloaded everything. With each weighing, the driver has to obtain a signed weight ticket from a certified scale’s master. A copy of those tickets must be attached to client’s copy of the contract. Shipments lighter than 3,000 lb. can be weighed using the scale from a warehouse.

The client has the right to be present when the weighing of the shipment is performed. The mover must inform the client of the time and place where the weighing will take place. A good opportunity must be created for the client to see the process of weighing if he wishes to participate. The client can waive his right to be present during the weighing, but he has to renounce it in writing.

In case the client is suspicious of the accuracy of the shipment weighing at origin, he may request for it to be redone before the cargo is unloaded. The carrier cannot charge the client for reweighing his items. However, the final applied rates will be made according to the newly defined weight of the shipment.

If the client requests notifications of the charges and weight of the shipment, the moving company must comply. However, this is only the case if the transport is to be paid for upon delivery. The requirement is also dependent on supplying the client’s contact information. The mover must notify the client at least a day before the time of delivery excluding Federal holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

The 24-hour notice requirement may be disregarded by the mover if one of the following situations occurs: 

  • When the shipment is weighed by the mover at the place of delivery.
  • When the delivery and pickup take place in 2 consecutive weekdays, if the client agrees.
  • When the total sum paid at the delivery point is 110% of the charges that were initially estimated.

How to Resolve Disputes with the Mover

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains the rules on processing damage and loss claims. If the client cannot reach an agreement with the mover, he may ask for arbitration. All movers have to participate and provide a summary of the program before having the client sign the service order.

Arbitration gives a client the chance to settle damage or loss claims, and even some disputed types of charges with the help of a 3rd party arbitrator. The client may find that submitting an arbitration claim is a more convenient and cheaper way to recover a claim than filling a legal suit against the mover. 

While the client can choose not to use arbitration, it can be mandatory for the mover. If a client requests it for a claim lower than $10,000, the mover is obligated to submit himself to the arbitration and the decision of the arbitrator will become binding to all involved parties. However, if the claim is higher than $10,000, the mover can choose not to submit himself to arbitration. If he does agree, the decision of the arbitrator becomes binding to both the client him. 

The client may also pursue civil action to seek out legal jurisdiction instead of arbitration. 

Clients have to resolve damage and loss or disputes on moving charges they might have with their mover on their own, as they are in a contractual agreement. They are both bound by the following conditions and terms:

  • The conditions and terms negotiated prior to the move.
  • The conditions and terms the client accepted when he signed the contract. 
  • The conditions and terms the client accepted when he signed for the delivery of the shipment.

The client can request arbitration or take the moving company to court in order to settle any dispute. If the carrier refuses to finish a shipment unless a specific sum is paid to which he is not entitled, the client should contact the FMCSA and request assistance. 

Things to Remember

  • Movers are obligated to make written estimates. They can either be non-binding or binding. Non-binding quotes are merely approximations, so the fees that need to be paid upon delivery can be bigger than the specified sum.
  • Clients should not sign incomplete or blank documents. Each document should be verified before signing. The only things that can be missing at the moment of signing are the real weight of the goods (for non-binding estimates), and unforeseen expenses that might appear in transit.
  • The client should get informed on the responsibility of the carrier for damage and loss, as well as the differences between insurance and the valuation of the shipment. 
  • The client should understand the liability type he chooses and think if 60 cents for each pound of the shipment is enough to cover the value of the goods, or if he needs to purchase extra insurance.
  • The client should notify the mover if his shipment contains items of high value, those worth more than $100 for each pound.
  • The client may observe each weighing of the shipment, as well as request an additional reweigh at no extra cost.
  • The client should confirm with the carrier the payment methods accepted on delivery.
  • The client should consider settling disputes by requesting arbitration.
  • The client should check if he is dealing with a mover or a broker, and if the partner is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
  • The client should not sign any delivery receipts if they specifically release the movers from liability. Such language should be stroked out before signing the paperwork. You can also refuse the delivery if the transporter does not agree to give a corrected receipt for it.
Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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