Understanding how van lines, agents and household interstate moving and relocation works

Christopher Noblit
Van Line Guide

The information in this document is intended to provide you with a broad overview of the "van line system" of moving and storage and introduce you to the different parties involved in your interstate van line relocation. (in addition to providing an overview of how the van line system functions). It is also intended to outline each party's responsibilities and begin to inform you of your rights and responsibilities when you move. Please take the time to read this document thoroughly, as it contains information that will help you solve any problems that may arise quickly and, hopefully, to your satisfaction. In addition, please keep in mind that communications between you, the van line carrier, the booking, and the origin and destination agents (see below) are vital to the success of your move. So if you have any questions, don't be shy...ask!
Table of Contents

  • Who is the "Booking Agent"
  • Who is the "Origin Agent"
  • Who is the "Hauling Agent"
  • What is the Van Operator (The Driver) Responsible For?
  • Who is the "Destination Agent”
  • Establishing liability for loss or damage
  • How to file a claim for loss or damage
  • The "Statement of Additional Services" document
  • General relocation tips

Who Is The Van Line "Booking Agent"
You or your company has placed your move directly with the booking agent. The booking agent is responsible for setting up and managing your move. The quality of the booking agent's service - how well the agent sets up and manages the move - will be the single largest factor in determining whether or not you will have a high-quality relocation.

Who Is The Van Line "Origin Agent"
The Origin Agent (who, for private "C.O.D." moves, is often also the booking agent) is responsible for providing you with the following services at origin:

  • Estimates the size and the cost of your move.
  • Provides a crew to pack boxes (if you or your company has ordered this service).
  • Provides a crew to be hired by the driver to remove your belongings from your home and load the moving van.
  • Provides storage at origin if you or your company have requested and approved this service.
  • Advises the Booking Agent and/or your van line's customer service team of any problems at origin.

Who Is The Van Line "Hauling Agent"
The Hauling Agent (who, for private "C.O.D." moves, can often also function as the booking agent and the origin agent) is responsible for providing the truck and the driver to load, transport, and deliver your shipment

Who Is The Van Line Van Operator (the van line Driver)
Your van operator is responsible for providing you with the following services:

  • The van operator prepares the "Household Goods Descriptive Inventory" (see the below for important information regarding the Inventory).
  • Hires and supervises adequate helpers to load your shipment at the origin and unload it at the destination. Inside pickup (removing the goods inside the origin residence) is included.
  • Transports your shipment from the point of origin to its final destination (unless your shipment is stored at an origin or destination agent's warehouse).
  • The driver will place everything you have moved inside your new home in a location that you specify.
  • The van operator should reassemble any articles that he or she dismantled at the origin. Please note that this does not include unusual articles such as swing sets, waterbeds, sheds, etc... which may require a 3rd party service reassemble.

Who Is The Van Line "Destination Agent"
The Destination Agent is responsible for providing the following services at the destination:

  • Provides a crew to be hired by the driver to unload the truck and place your belongings inside your new home.
  • Provides a crew to unpack cartons (if you or your company has authorized unpacking service). Note that movers do not put the contents of unpacked cartons away into cabinets, drawers, or closets. The result of unpacking service is, therefore, quite often disorganized and cluttered. You may want to consider unpacking the boxes yourself.
  • Provides storage at destination if you or your company have requested and approved this service.
  • Advise the van line and/or your booking agent of any problems at the destination.

Establishing Liability For Loss or Damage
If any of your goods are lost or damaged while in transit or storage, it is imperative that you correctly document that such loss or damage occurred while the shipment was in the mover's care. This is accomplished with the "Household Goods Descriptive Inventory" (prepared by the driver at origin). The inventory establishes what is being moved and each item's condition when the mover takes possession. By signing the Inventory at origin, you are acknowledging what was moved and its condition when the mover took possession. Upon delivery, you will be required to sign the inventory again. Any loss or damage to your shipment articles that occurred while your shipment was in the mover's care must be noted on the inventory at this time. If you fail to do so, your claim may be denied! Look your goods over thoroughly after they've been unloaded. If any are missing or damaged, note it on the mover's Household Goods Descriptive Inventory copy.
In addition to the standard household goods shipment inventory, your mover should present you with a “High-Value Inventory” on which you must disclose articles of extraordinary value. If you do not receive such a form, notify your move coordinator and ask what the procedure is for disclosing high-value items. Items of extraordinary value are defined as those having a value greater than $1,000. Typical household goods items that frequently have a high value are currency, coins, jewelry, precious metals, precious or semi-precious stones or gems, gold, silver or platinum articles, including silverware and service sets, china sets, crystal or figurines, fur or fur garments, antiques, oriental rugs or tapestries, rare collectible items or objects of art, computer software programs, manuscripts or other rare documents of course. Other items may also fall into this category and must be identified. The High Value Inventory is designed to protect you and your mover, so please make sure you list all your high value possessions on such a form.

To File A Claim For Loss or Damage
To file a claim, call the booking agent, destination agent, or the van line and request a claim form be sent to you. When settling your claim, you will be dealing directly with the van line and local repair/appraisal firms. However, if you are experiencing a problem with the settlement process, your booking agent may be able to help. Please remember that you must prove that the loss occurred while the shipment was in the mover's care (the Household Goods Descriptive Inventory is the key document here). Also, you must prove the value of lost or missing items with old receipts or appraisals. As of this writing, you have nine (9) months to file an interstate claim with the van line carrier. However, do not delay; file your claim as soon as possible.

The "Packing, Unpacking & Statement of Additional Services" Document (The "Pack Slip")
These documents detail the number of cartons the mover provided and/or packed, applicable "Long Carries," "Stair Carries," "Elevator Carries," Additional Labor hours, and other information affecting the cost of your move. Definitions of these services should be shown on the reverse side of this document. Remember that you are approving charges by signing this document. It is imperative that the quantities listed accurately reflect the work that is performed during your move.
General Relocation Tips

  • Please don't make travel plans for packing, move-out, move-in or unpacking day. Plan on being occupied with the service being provided for the entire day.
  • Keep your telephone functioning through the planned loading day. Likewise, try to have your new telephone installed and functioning for move-in day at your new (destination) residence. You or the movers may need to communicate with the outside world.
  • All personal items of high value, such as jewelry, coins, prescriptions, etc... are best carried with you when traveling to your new residence.
  • Remember to note missing or damaged items on the Household Goods Descriptive Inventory upon delivery. Failure to do so could result in denial of your claim!
  • Remember that when filing a claim for missing or damaged items, you must substantiate any loss with proof of value and ownership. This can be accomplished through canceled checks, sales receipts, a homeowners policy, or appraisals.
  • Never throw out an item that has been damaged! The van line's appraiser or repair firm may want to inspect it, and if you dispose of a damaged item, your claim may be denied due to the article not being available for inspection.
  • If you cannot be at your residence on the day of packing, loading, unloading, or unpacking, you will need to name an agent or representative to act on your behalf and supervise the movers, as the movers may have questions requiring immediate answers.
  • You or your company has been provided with an estimate for the cost of your move. Only the services detailed on this estimate are approved. Any required additional service should be approved by you or your company before it can be performed.

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