When You Move Within Minnesota
All moves made within the State of Minnesota are regulated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT). Movers must obtain authority to operate in Minnesota, they must have liability and cargo insurance on file with the state, and they must file and have approved all of their rates and charges in a document-format known as a tariff.
However, even with all of these regulations, knowing your rights and responsibilities when you move can go far in protecting yourself from unnecessary problems.
When looking for a mover, be sure to call several movers to obtain initial estimates. Movers will either send over an experienced estimator to look over your goods and give you an initial estimate of the cost of the move or they will quote you an hourly rate for the move. If an estimator does come out to your home, it is your responsibility to show him or her everything you intend to move and any special services you may need. Be wary of a mover who gives you a noticeably low estimate. Also, check with MNDOT and the Better Business Bureau to obtain complaint figures for any prospective movers.
Some movers may have a provision in their tariff allowing for guaranteed pricing for goods that are pre-surveyed. However, by far most estimates are non-binding and should only act as an approximation of your moving costs so that you can plan financial arrangements in advance of the moving date. It is VERY IMPORTANT to make a written arrangement for credit or payment of the bill if the final cost of the move should exceed the estimated amount. If you have not made such an arrangement, the mover may demand and receive full payment for the total amount of the move no matter what the estimate.
Liability for damage during a move is determined prior to your move based on the coverage option that you select. Your coverage can be either "valuation" (which is like self-insurance by the mover) or "insurance" (in which case you should receive a certificate of insurance issued by the mover or by an insurance company). Unless you choose full replacement insurance, your coverage will be for depreciated value.
Under Minnesota law, you may choose one of three options to cover your intrastate (within Minnesota) move:
Option 1: 60 cents per pound per article.
This is minimum coverage, and you pay no extra. If your goods are damaged or lost, the movers maximum liability to you under this option is 60 cents per pound per article. Example: 10 lb. Lamp x 60 cents=$6.00. You would be given $6.00 for that particular lamp. To choose this option, you personally must write on the bill of lading "60 cents per pound per article" and sign it.
Option 2: Declared value.
You determine the total amount your shipment is worth and declare that on the bill of lading. That amount will be the movers maximum liability to you. Depending upon the movers tariff, there may be a charge for this type of coverage (i.e. 50 cents per $100 of value). Example: $20,000 shipment value x 50 cents=$100 charge. If there is a claim, the mover is not obligated to write out a check to you for the entire declared shipment value. Each damaged item will be repaired or replaced according to its depreciated value, not to exceed the shipments declared value (in this example the declared value is $20,000).
Option 3: Insurance.
Your mover can arrange for "trip transit insurance" in the amount you specify. A certificate of insurance, issued by either the mover or by an insurance company, must be provided to you. You can choose either depreciated or "full replacement" insurance. Be sure to ask if there is a deductible. Unless the movers tariff specifies otherwise, there will be a charge for this coverage. You may also want to check your own homeowners policy to see if it provides coverage.
Note: If you do not choose any of these three options, the movers maximum liability to you under the law is $1.25 times the weight of the total shipment. Example: Your shipment weighs 10,000 pounds x $1.25=$12,500 value. This coverage works the same way as a declared value (See Option 2). This is depreciated value, not replacement coverage, and there may be a charge for this type of coverage in the movers tariff.
Certain moving preparations are your responsibility and should be made before the movers arrive, even if the mover is to do both the packing and unpacking. Major appliances such as refrigerators, televisions, and washing machines require disconnecting and special services to protect them during the shipment.
Other items which are attached to walls or floors such as draperies, pictures, or tacked-down carpets should be removed and ready for shipment. Some moving companies may provide these services for you at your request and expense. Also, do not pack money, jewelry, important papers, or other valuable personal items with the shipment.
When the mover arrives and begins packing up your goods, the movers will often make notations on an inventory sheet or on the bill of lading that will reflect any pre-existing damage to your furniture. You should be sure that a proper description of the condition of your furniture is entered on the record. Before signing such a record, note on it any exceptions you may have as to the condition description.
For example, the driver may have noted that "desk is scratched." You may elect to add, for example, "on left side only" if this is the case. The more accurate the description, the more legal protection you have in the case of damage.
A bill of lading is a receipt for your goods and it represents the contract between you and the mover. Most of the terms on the bill of lading are prescribed by Minnesota Law. The bill of lading also makes reference to the rates and conditions of the mover's tariff, the legal document that is filed with the state that contains a mover's rates. You should make a detailed reading of the bill of lading to make sure that you understand the terms and conditions of the move.
Once your goods have been unloaded by the mover, the driver will ask you to sign the delivery receipt, the bill of lading, or the inventory sheet. Before signing any such sheet, be sure that any obvious damage or lost items are noted on the sheet. Telling the driver about these things will not mattermake sure that they are noted on the sheet. Do not sign any delivery papers until the delivery is complete.
As previously mentioned, the mover's liability for loss and damage is decided upon before the move is conducted. If you discover damage or loss to any of your items, ask for a claim form from the mover. Fill out the form, noting any damage or loss, and return it to the mover. Also, be sure to save any damaged items so that they can be examined by the mover.
You will have nine (9) months from the date of the move to file a claim with the mover. If the mover disputes the claim, you have two (2) years from the date of the disavowment to take the mover to civil court.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) can be very helpful in assisting consumers who are having problems with a mover honoring their coverage responsibilities for damage or loss. However, MNDOT has no authority to determine whether or not the mover is liable in particular circumstances, and the amount necessary to repair or replace items cannot be decided by the department.
If your new residence is not ready to move into, it may be necessary to have your goods stored for later delivery. If your goods are in storage for 90 days or less, the terms of the storage fall under the mover's tariff on file with the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
However, if the length of the storage period exceeds 90 days, you may need to sign a separate bill of lading for the warehousing of your goods. Warehousing of your goods fall under the regulations of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Therefore, the storage of your goods are subject to the rates, terms, and conditions of the mover's warehouse rate schedule on file with the Department of Agriculture.
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Avatar Moving Systems, Inc.
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