We've all heard the horror stories of items that didn't survive the move, whether it was Great Grandmother's china, the crystal vase that you saved for months to buy, the now-scratched armoire ... the list is endless.
You can argue that moving crews won't be as careful as owners when it comes time to safely transport your possessions. But in fairness, it's also true that in some cases owners have not properly packed valued items.
That a box you pack yourself is one that your movers can't see inside; nor do they know that the contents have been packed according to their standards. That's why it's critical that you understand the terms of your moving insurance coverage.
If you want to hire a company to individually wrap and pack all of your valuables, they might be happy to accommodate you -- in exchange, of course -- for a fee. If you're like the vast majority of homeowners, however, you'll be packing your own possessions -- or at least most of them, including your precious valuables -- and so you'll have to assume responsibility for their safe transport.
Depending upon your insurance coverage and the policies set forth by your moving company, there are some items that you're better off moving yourself. Take, for instance, your jewelry. As you review your inventory with your moving company, you'll probably be asked to fill out a separate document which asks you for a list of your high value possessions.
The items on this list should receive additional coverage in the event of loss, so make it your mission to ensure that all of your "high-value" possessions are recorded. Otherwise, they'll receive "standard" coverage, which will be inadequate.
In any event, many would argue that you're better off moving your jewelry and other priceless or irreplaceable items -- such as heirloom glassware, small antiques or valuable collections -- by yourself, simply for the sake of peace of mind.
Is shipping with movers safer? That's anyone's guess. If you've found a highly-recommended moving company with whom you're comfortable, and you've decided to have the movers transport your most valuable items, be sure to notify them -- both verbally and in writing -- before packing begins so that your special goods may be labeled accordingly and transported with additional care. Get receipts in writing when goods are picked up. Also, it makes sense to make a photo record of valued items.
You should provide this extra notification even though you would have already completed a high-value inventory and reviewed your bill of lading on which those items are listed. It never hurts to repeat yourself for the sake of your valuables, just in case you're working with a crew of several individuals, some of whom may not have been adequately briefed.
Moving companies are required to give every customer a bill of lading, something which serves both as your receipt and your contract ensuring the safe transport of your possessions. Make sure that you read it and fully understand its terms before you sign . In addition to outlining your total charges, the bill of lading also lists the estimated total value of your transported possessions, and most important, the amount of the mover's potential liability (depending on insurance coverage) in the event your possessions are damaged or lost.
Is there anything that movers won't transport? In some cases (depending upon the company, of course), movers will refuse to transport house plants because they'll rarely survive the stress of moving. The company will inevitably be faced with a disgruntled customer whose dissatisfaction is rather unjustified given that movers specialize in transporting large, heavy items and personal possessions that have been carefully packaged. Plants are out of their realm and should be.
Before you select a moving company, contact your local chapter of the Better Business Bureau to find out if any complaints have been issued against a given mover and how they have been resolved.
Also, contact your insurance broker to see other forms of coverage are available to you.