Welcome to Pandora’s box in piano moving or any moving for that matter. The biggest problem we have in North America is we assume that just because we hire some piano movers or any mover for that matter, that if there are any problems, it is not our problem. The reality is, it is your piano (not the movers) and if something goes wrong, at the end of the day, it is your problem since you are the person looking at the piano everyday. So if this article looks to long for you and you want the short version of this article: Use a reputable piano mover and make sure you pay the extra money for the insurance coverage to a value that you are most comfortable with. You are less likely to have damage with a reputable piano mover and more likely to have any problems taken care of it if something does go wrong. For those that want to know the more: We probably should start discussing this myth buster style.
Is your piano move fully insured? The answer is NO, there is no such thing and if there was it died with the economic and insurance crisis. I know a lot of piano movers and household movers that tell people they are fully insured, but just because the mover is insured, doesn’t mean you are insured for what you think you are. The best way to think about this, is to think about your car insurance. When something happens to your car, what do you have to do? File a claim and pay your deductible. Oh look, did you notice the accident just cost you something (the deductible) and it may not have even been your fault. If you haven’t paid your insurance and you don’t pay your deductible, your claim gets denied meaning you have nothing but a damaged car. Do you really think piano moving damage claims are any different? If your car gets a dent, are you entitled to a new car? I wish! All you are entitled to is the cheapest means of repair the insurance company will pay for. Say your car gets written off, do you get a new car? No, you get what the insurance company thinks it is currently worth. Are you getting where I am going with this?
How do I know what value my piano is insured for? This answer is actually easier then most people think. There are two things in Canada that set the rules of how this work in Canada and is the only thing that any insurance company is interested in when all hell breaks loose when things get damaged. Basically the “Bill of Lading Act” and the “Truck Transportion Act” set these rules out and your ignorance of what these acts say does not mean they do not count or matter. Basically there must be a bill of lading that travels with the goods in question (piano) which says what the carrier (piano movers) is liability for in moving your piano. When no bill of lading is present there are defaults that fall into place which you may or may not have heard of: $2 per pound. Basically in summary the Truck transportion Act states that when nobody is smart enough to talk or ask about insurance, the default value the piano mover or carrier is liable for is $2 per pound of weight of the item damaged. So in Laman’s terms: If the piano weighs 500 pounds, do not expect more than $1000 coverage for it. If the piano bench is 25 pounds, than do not expect more than $50 coverage and this is assuming there is no deductible.
So how do you get more insurance? You have to declare a value on the bill of lading that controls the movement of the piano. Now this next point is really important: If you raise the declared value to more than $2 per pound, the carrier or piano mover is going to charge you more to move the piano. Why? It is simple, the higher the risk and exposure for the piano mover, the more expensive the piano move is. You may not like or agree with this, but it is just the way it is.
When I got a quote the Piano Mover I called told me I am fully insured! That’s nice and the guy next door that cheats on his wife tells his wife he isn’t cheating on her as well whenever asked. My question to you is if they didn’t ask you what the declared value on your piano should be, how are they going to make sure that the right value appears on the bill of lading. They probably didn’t even ask the make, model and age of the piano is, so how do they know the value to put down. They aren’t and don’t. The bill of lading is going to read the defaults of value per pound. And to make matters worse, if the piano mover is a household mover, their bill of ladings generally read $0.60 per pound which is even less coverage. So the only way you are going to have a fighting chance of full coverage is if they are a reputable outfit and stand behind their workmanship as an act of good will on their part in these type of situations. You wonder why so many people complain about movers and how they didn’t fix anything that they broke: Well this is why.
I thought I was insured, but when something got damaged, nothing got fixed. What happened? Basically you used an unreputable piano mover. Your damage claim is only as good as the person or company that is standing behind it. There are a lot of uninsured piano movers or regular movers that say they are insured but are not. There are a lot of insured movers that have such high deductibles that they only insurance you are going to see is if it comes directly from them, because the damage claim is less than their deductible with their insurance company. There are some movers that work out of their homes and have next to nothing to their name. Do you think the words “I’m going to sue you”, really mean anything to them?
I paid cash, but found out afterwards I forfeited all insurance! It seems like everyone is hoping to stiff the taxman these days by paying cash, but some deals are too good to be true. Why do the trades and movers like people like you? Because you just gave them the ability stiff the taxman and screw yourself out of any insurance coverage you might have had in one shot and it was your idea! They could drop your piano off the back of the truck and smash it, steal it if they wanted and not have to worry about any legal ramifications, because you are the one that wanted to commit fraud. You say no way: I’m telling you that there are people out there that have paid movers to steal their goods. If there is no bill of lading or paperwork, basically it didn’t happen. Sue them, that is fine, what do you think the judge is going to think of you: you have no legal evidence that they picked up the piano (cash means no paper trail) and you are admiting to commiting fruad. Can we say case dismissed and lets place charges against you. Be smart: pay the tax, do the paperwork and stay insured.
Think about this for just one second: Is saving $5-10 bucks on a move or not paying the tax, worth moving the piano with no insurance. Piano are worth too much, to move uninsured. If they fall over, they cause to much damage to the piano and whatever it hits to be uninsured. Use a reputable professional that you know will stand behind his work.