When moving from one home to the next, particularly if it involves interstate travel, you should be wary while hiring a long distance moving company to assist you. It's always best to be aware of your rights or, in other words, the responsibilities of the moving company you hire and your responsibilities towards them.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has provided detailed guidelines on “consumer protection regulations” that are built to safeguard your (the clients) interests along with the cross country movers you are working with.
Why You Need to be Aware of Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move?
It is your responsibility first and foremost to be aware of the legalities involved when working with out of state movers. Most people do not know their rights and responsibilities, which can cost them later. Not all companies may be nice enough to let you know about the legal responsibilities involved during the hiring process and the final move; others may even try to take advantage of your ignorance. This is why it is important that you read up on your rights and responsibilities before hiring a long distance moving company.
Hire Only Registered Movers
Hiring a household goods registered moving company means that you are dealing with a professional company that is in compliane with DOT, state, local, and insurance regulations. These laws can vary widely by state making it even more important to hiring a long-distance moving company registered with the FMCSA.. This means that the company is legally registered to “engage in interstate transportation of household goods” and can provide you with the proper insurance, transportation, and valuation services.
Such moving companies are usually assigned a USDOT number that is listed with the FMCSA. You can look up if a company is registered at the FMCSA protect your move website, or you can call the FMSCA at (202) 366-9805 for licensing inquiries and (202) 385-2423 for insurance inquiries. (The FMCSA also advises to avoid brokers in this regard.)
Your Rights / The Moving Company’s Responsibilities
Let's start with your rights. The FMCSA regards the consumers having their belongings shipped as "shippers" and household good carriers as the “movers''. Here is what the FMCSA regards the rights of the shippers:
Your first right is to receive all the specific documents and associated services from the movers you hire, which they are legally required to provide. (Note that these only apply to interstate movers). Here is the information you should expect to receive:
All HHG movers (HouseHold Goods movers) engaging in interstate moves are legally required to provide information on their Arbitration Program. The mover’s arbitration program includes the procedure involved in settlement of disputes outside the judiciary courts.
Arbitration hearings may include a whole tribunal or an individual arbitrator, and while it is an alternative to court action, their decision is final and binding.
One other major service the cross country movers must provide is information regarding what would happen if your goods were lost or damaged. As a shipper, you should be able to request a company claim form from the mover and look for dispute settlement. Damage reimbursement is largely based on the moving company's specific policies regarding claims, but all HHG movers are required to reimburse most damages at a rate of $.60 per pound.
The final important part is the transportation charges involved. These charges, as mentioned earlier, should be made available to you in the published form, usually referred to as a tariff and should also be contained in the moving estimate.
Your Responsibilities / The Moving Company’s Rights
Moving on to the responsibilities of the shipper hiring the out of state movers, here is what you are responsible for:
Your first responsibility is to ensure that you understand the terms and conditions involved in the contract you sign, also known as the "bill of lading," and you understand the legalities involved in case of any issue during your move. You must also be careful while selecting the household goods mover or broker you hire.
Your next responsibility is to be available at the time your household goods are being shipped and at the time they are being received at their destination. If you cannot be available, you should send a representative to receive these goods in your stead.
The moving company you hire is legally required to provide you with a written estimate of costs required and a tariff entailing all service charges. You, as a shipper, are also required to make payment in the amount both parties agreed upon when the time comes. If you cannot pay the charges on a binding estimate, your mover is legally allowed to place your shipment in storage until the charges are completely paid off.
It is your responsibility to immediately file a claim for the loss or damage of your household goods when necessary.