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Moving Cross-Country, with a Collection


Mandingo Rex

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On February 23, 2008, I lost everything I own in a cross-country move from Raleigh, NC to the Bay Area in California.

n11814341_35666136_4866.jpg

 

Here's the photos of the accident:

MOVING TRUCK FIRE

 

I moved with Allied Van Lines, who my company paid to move me to the west coast. About 4/5 of the way on the trip, the rear axle of the 18-wheeler locked up, and the rear end of the trailer caught fire, fueled by the brake lines, and my entire shipment was lost.

 

In addition to losing everything I own – furniture, clothing, electronics – I lost several collections that were very dear to me, including my Transformers.

 

I lost my entire Masterpiece and Alternator collection, which was complete except for Ultra Magnus and Swerve. I had customs, and duplicates of a few molds. On top of that, I lost nearly 500 DVDs, all the comic books I've collected from the age of 8 (I'm now 25 as of this writing) and my entire portfolio. I'm a designer by trade, and this was perhaps the worst loss... I lost not only all my work, backed up on DVDs and hard drives, but also my printed/published work, my working files, and all my computer equipment. There was nothing left from the accident, and the moving company is only insuring me for $5/lb. Which comes to to a grand total of $18,500. I have figured I had roughly between $35,000 to $45,000 worth of stuff that I lost in the fire.

 

Fortunately, I had a renter's insurance policy that I took out on my new apartment, 3 days before the accident. Unfortunately, it was only for $25,000. And my insurance company will only add an additional $6,500 on top of the mover's insurance, so that my coverage comes to $25,000. (minus a $500 deductible, of course).

 

Dipping into my own savings, I have been able to fairly quickly reacquire the majority of my Alternators/Masterpiece figures, along with the bits and pieces to one day rebuild my customs (I'm 90% done buying, waiting on the delivery, and still have a few figures here and there to buy).

 

GET INSURANCE:

If ANYONE on this board has a large collection of anything, please either get it appraised and insured, or make sure you have insurance on your home or apartment that is at least double what you may think you have. Renter's insurance is something I'd always passed on, but luckily got, even though it won't cover completely. It never hurts to have renter's or home owner's insurance, even IF the mover's have insurance. Get the most insurance possible via the movers, but don't leave it up to them entirely, as I'm living proof that they are not adequate.

 

GET THE RIGHT COVERAGE:

If you can, sit down and figure out what you own. It could take a few hours, at most, to make the most comprehensive lists. Start with big things, but don't forget small things. I went room-by-room and listed everything from furniture, to listing bulk items such as "office supplies" or "tools" with an estimated mass-value. Then insure it for at least 50-100% more, just to be safe. There's always things you'll forget. For $150 for a year, I get $25,000 coverage for renter's insurance through AAA. Shop around.

 

WHEN PACKING, DON'T MARK VALUABLES:

Movers are cheap hired hands in most instances. It's not their stuff they're moving, and they (generally) don't care if it gets broken. "Someone" else will take care of the damages, or won't even notice. Document with the moving coordinator that you DO have valuable collections, anything over $100/lb. That can be anything from jewelry to DVDs, or toys for that matter. But do NOT mark on the box "Valuables". I would suggest packing your own boxes, considered "PBOs" (packed-by-owner) and they usually are not allowed to go through them. Wrap items safely, and pack items like blankets or pillows around them... This cushions them, and can also mask any valuables as well. If you do mark boxes, mark them with discreet codes that you would understand. "Put TF: MPs" instead of "Transformer Masterpiece Collection", etc. Also, don't forget, they probably don't care about your property getting damaged.

 

TAKE VALUABLES WITH YOU:

If you don't have that many valuables to pack, then by all means, take them with you. Pack them on the plane in your carry-on luggage, or take them in your car with you. Oftentimes, moving companies that move cars allow up to 100lbs of extra stuff in the trunk, and chances are, a single car carrier driver won't go through your stuff, unlike having 2-5 movers possibly going through your belongings, picking out what they want for themselves or damaging.

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Also, do NOT use Allied Van Lines. The move went fine (apparently) until the accident happened, and it's just snowballed from there. They loaded things up and were careful on the initial loading/packing process, but dealing with them in the aftermath has been a nightmare. They called me TWO DAYS after the accident happened (it happened on a Saturday) to tell me that everything I owned was gone. They were supposed to deliver on Sunday, the day after the accident. Despite calling them all day Sunday, it wasn't until Monday that I got a return call, which I thought was to tell me they were just running late. I didn't realize just how "late" my shipment would be.

 

Here's a little something for people to help me "advertise" for Allied:

Downloadable Cut-Out Burning Allied Truck

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That sucks man. Good thing you have insurance. AAA is a great place to get insurance and if you're a member, you get a discount. I just switched to them for my insurance and they were the best price I got (I am a member too). Renters insurance is so cheap that you should get it no matter what. Hopefully you're getting back on your feet.

 

This brings up another important thing to consider doing. Take an inventory of what you own and make a few copies of it. Give a copy to your insurance company, put a copy in a safe deposit box at a bank, even give one to your parents or a relative you trust. This way, for whatever reason, you should always have a copy available when needed. Take pictures of everything too to include with the inventory file. It's a lot of work but it is worth it.

 

I've kind of worked on this myself and I need to finish it.

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As soon as I get my living room furniture delivered (I've gotten the bedroom and dining, and a bunch of kitchen stuff replaced... and 95% of my TFs have been bought for RIDICULOUSLY cheap prices on eBay, it's taken some scouring, but I've managed to replace most of them, and most of the bits to re-build my customs) I am going to photograph EVERY room, and upload photos to my website, but also Flickr, and put them in a private view folder.

 

I also plan to scan my receipts for large items (luckily for me, I've been usually buying a LOT of stuff at one time, on one receipt... like my furniture, and tons of stuff from Target) and keep digital backups somewhere secure online...

 

That's another thing I'd suggest... I KNOW receipts can add up and just be paperwork that takes up space, but it's good to keep them backed up for at least 5 years, if not longer. Especially for larger items like furniture, electronics, etc.

 

Having eBay or Amazon histories, and also buying with credit cards helps too. This is one instance where a paper trail comes in handy.

 

That sucks man. Good thing you have insurance. AAA is a great place to get insurance and if you're a member, you get a discount. I just switched to them for my insurance and they were the best price I got (I am a member too). Renters insurance is so cheap that you should get it no matter what. Hopefully you're getting back on your feet.

 

This brings up another important thing to consider doing. Take an inventory of what you own and make a few copies of it. Give a copy to your insurance company, put a copy in a safe deposit box at a bank, even give one to your parents or a relative you trust. This way, for whatever reason, you should always have a copy available when needed. Take pictures of everything too to include with the inventory file. It's a lot of work but it is worth it.

 

I've kind of worked on this myself and I need to finish it.

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  • 1 month later...

If I ever have to use a moving service like that I'm packing boxes of rocks and lead weights!

 

When my brothers and I were kids, my family was moving back from San Francisco to Washington and our toys just happened to disappear from the move, we had used a moving service. We were big into Transformers then, granted it just wasn't toys that went missing.

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Wow, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I couldn't imagine losing everything I owned so quickly, especially by a company that has little to no compassion to someone in your position.

 

I am a commercial insurance agent, and while I don't usually deal with personal insurance (homeowners, car, life) I can let you know that there is a company who offers insurance policies by The Hartford for individual collections. The website is www.collectinsure.com, and their rates are very cheap - My annual premium is $103.00 for $20,000 worth of coverage.

 

It's not a bad way to insure your collections, and you won't have to worry about your "contents" coverage in your homeowners policies paying for new Transformers instead of new furniture for your home.

 

On another note, you might want to look into the moving company's Commercial General Liability policy. They typically have coverage for damage to other people's property in their care, custody, and control... proving that there was some sort of negligence on the company's side. Perhaps a lack of maintenence on the trucks can be proven?

 

If I were you, I would gather up all of the information that you have from this move, and ask an attorney for a free consultation.

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We used Allied (through the Army) when we moved from NC as well...they pretty much broke our baby grand piano, and scratched up several other pieces of furniture. The cutout is cute (though a little spiteful...not that I don't totally understand). I imagine you flew to Cali instead of driving cross-country, I would have guessed that you'd have taken some of your more valuable things with you. It seems like a dick thing to ask now, but did you think about bringing backup copies of your work with you personally?

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