Recommendations and Requirements for Interstate Household Goods Moving Companies (From a Legal Perspective)

 

I often get asked by my moving company clients what they must do in order to comply with federal interstate household goods regulations, and beyond that, they ask me what they should do in order to protect themselves against liability.  This post will explain, on a general level, some of the more common questions that I receive from clients, as well as general recommendations for the interstate household goods mover.  This post is not intended to be legal advice, and is not in any way a legal recommendation on how to handle a particular situation.  Furthermore, it is not meant to be an exclusive list of requirements and recommendations.  Moving companies should seek legal counsel to assist with any legal matters.

Interstate household goods moving companies must:

  • Be licensed;
  • Have adequate levels of insurance;
  • Publish a tariff;
  • Complete several mandated documents on every move that they perform (including the Bill of Lading, Order for Service, Inventory, and Estimate;
  • Provide customers with the DOT publications entitled, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” and “Ready to Move“;
  • Provide customers with an in-home, visual estimate if the customer lives within 50 miles of the carrier’s address, unless the carrier obtains a visual estimate waiver signed by the customer;
  • Explain the STB-mandated valuation information available to shippers, along with an explanation of valuation deductibles, if applicable;
  • Update moving documents to reflect the new STB valuation rules;
  • Complete and maintain driver files, log books, alcohol and drug testing, an accident register, a separate and independent claims file, and truck files;
  • Maintain current copies of insurance filings, BOC3, and MCS-150;
  • Keep all job files for the minimum required number of months;
  • Have in place Carrier Agreements / Hauling Agreements with each Carrier that the company does business with;
  • Have Broker-Carrier Agreements signed if the moving company does business with household goods brokers;
  • Notify customers of any shipping delays and deliver the shipment with “reasonable dispatch.”
Interstate household goods moving companies should:
  • Have available for every move a “Revised Written Estimate” which will be used if, on the day of the move, the customer is shipping additional items than what was originally estimated;
  • Have available for every move a “Shipper Power of Attorney” form which can be used to authorize a 3rd party to sign at delivery;
  • Have available for every move an “Optional Services / Post Contractual Services” form which can be used to allow the household goods moving company to charge for items that were not-anticipated at the time of writing the estimate;
  • Create a packing materials order form if the company would like to sell packing materials;
  • Have a Storage Agreement template on file if monthly storage services are available;
  • Utilize a “50 Mile Visual Estimate Waiver Form” so the carrier does not have to perform an in-home visual estimate;
  • View the carrier’s USDOT record and complaint history periodically;
  • Respond to claims, complaints, and inquiries professionally and timely;
  • Notify customers immediately if any change in delivery schedule, rates, prices, or other relevant information is discovered.

Helpful interstate household goods moving company links:

 

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