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AMSA's Dispute Settlement (Arbitration) Program

Changes in AMSA's Dispute Settlement (Arbitration) Program Effective Next Month,
New Consumer Brochures Required
by Dave Hauenstein, AMSA VP for Compliance Services and Government Affairs
Beginning in 1996, interstate movers were required, as a condition of maintaining their registration, to offer neutral binding arbitration on interstate shipments for individual shippers as a means of resolving certain types of disputed claims. In 2006, pursuant to the Household Goods Movers Oversight and Reform Act, the requirements were expanded to include both: 1) Disputed loss and damage claims, and 2) Disputes regarding additional charges that are billed to the shipper after the shipment was delivered.

Under these regulations, two types of disputes fall within the statutory requirements for arbitration for interstate household goods movers:



Disputed Claims for Loss & Damage to the Articles Transported in the Shipment




A dispute regarding the settlement of a claim for loss or damage to the articles contained in the shipment.


This type of dispute is subject to the mandatory arbitration requirement if the amount of the dispute is $10,000 or less.





Disputes Regarding Additional Charges Billed to the Shipper by the Mover AFTER THE DELIVERY of the Shipment


A dispute regarding additional charges that you billed to the shipper after the shipment was delivered.


This type of dispute is subject to the mandatory arbitration requirement if the amount of the dispute is $10,000 or less.



In response to past situations where some carriers have declined to pay awards in a prompt manner, a new Rule 22 is being added to provide clarification as to when Award payments are due.

New Rule 22. Satisfaction of Award or Order of the Arbitrator.

Unless otherwise stipulated by the arbitrator and subject to the provisions of Rules 24 and 25, the standard performance period for the payment of any Award contained in a decision or Order of the Arbitrator shall be forty-five (45) days from the date of the Award or Order. Or in the case of either party invoking Rule 25, Reconsideration of Awards or Orders, the standard performance period for the payment of any final Award or final Order of the Arbitrator shall be forty-five (45) days from the date of the final Award or Order.

A new Rule 24 is being added (and Rule 25 - formerly Rule 23) is being revised to waive the additional $200 administrative fee for the correction of clerical errors by FORUM.

New Rule 24. Correction of Awards or Orders.

FORUM may correct clerical or administrative mistakes or errors arising from oversight or omission in the administration of cases or in the issuance of an Order or Award. This correction may be made at the request of a party or on the initiative of FORUM or the Arbitrator. No fee is required for this request.

Revised Rule 25. Reconsideration of Awards or Orders.

Within twenty (20) Calendar Days after the date of the Award or Order, a party may request a modification of the Award or Order. The requesting party shall File the request with FORUM and pay an additional fee of $200 to FORUM. A party cannot make a second request. FORUM shall immediately notify the responding party of the request for modification by sending one (1) copy of the request to the responding party. The responding party has twenty (20) Calendar Days after the date of FORUM's Notice to the responding party of the request for modification to File a response with FORUM.

The arbitrator may reconsider an award or order if:

1) The Award or Order is not final;
2) The Award or Order is ambiguous or contains evident material mistakes;
3) The arbitrator did not decide a submitted issue; or
4) The arbitrator decided an issue not agreed to be submitted to arbitration by both parties.

Further, at the request of the National Arbitration Forum (FORUM), the AMSA Board has approved an increase in the fees assessed by the FORUM for the administration of our cases. The new fees that will apply for cases effective October 1, 2010 are shown in the table below. The previous level of fees has been in effect since January 1, 2006. None of the other fees (such as the fee for oral hearings, the extension fee, late fee or modification fee) are being increased.

It is important to note that the new fees are being applied on a prorated basis. Since the program is supposed to be a way for consumers to resolve their disputed loss and damage claims while keeping everyone out of court, the Board was concerned that the consumer's share of the fee should not discourage consumers from using the program because of the cost involved. If that were to happen and cases are filed in small claims or district courts in lieu of arbitration, carriers would almost certainly find themselves paying much more than the FORUM administrative filing fees to resolve these cases.

Therefore, the Board has approved the new fees on a prorated basis with the consumer paying a smaller share of the fee than the carrier:


of Disputed Claim


Administrative Fee

Consumer's Share of Administrative Fee

Carrier's Share of Administrative Fee



or less






Over $10,000

up to $20,000






Over $20,000

up to $30,000






Over $30,000

up to $40,000






Over $40,000

up to $50,000







Over $50,000

$850 plus one (1%) of the amount over


$400 plus one-half of 1% of the

amount over


$450 plus one-half of 1% of the

amount over


There are three (3) different brochures that contain complete details of the Arbitration Program, including the information that must be made available to your customers before the move.

(1) Arbitration Information for Member Carriers. This brochure is for your information as a member carrier. It contains a complete explanation of the program, including an explanation of the arbitration requirements for interstate movers.

Remember, under the Federal guidelines, arbitration is always optional and voluntary for your customers, but may be mandatory for you as the carrier. Under the Federal guidelines, you must agree to settle disputed claims by arbitration if the amount of the claim is $10,000 or less. Arbitration can be used to settle claim disputes over $10,000 on a voluntary basis (it's probably less expensive and easier than going to court), but you are under no Federal requirement to use the program for claims over that amount.

arb_brochureIt is also important to note that the cost of participating in the AMSA Arbitration Program, including the cost of processing your first claim, continues to be included in your membership dues.

(2) Information for Shippers (this is the brochure that you should distribute to your customers). This small, stylized brochure has been revised to reflect the revised fees and rule changes. It contains all of the information legally required to inform your customers about the program, including the costs and the legal effects of electing to submit a claim to arbitration.

For more information and to order your supply of these forms, call (703) 683-7414 or click here to order.

The Federal regulations require that this information must be given to each C.O.D. customer before they move. In order to be in compliance, you should make an explanation of the arbitration procedures provided in the brochure a regular part of your sales presentation by including this information in your pre-move material.

Also, to reduce potential legal exposure and the possibility of the payment of attorney's fees, you must also advise the shipper of the availability of the arbitration program during the claim settlement process, particularly when you have denied the shipper's claim or offered only a partial settlement. In other words, your Claims Department should also include this information on the arbitration program when you make your final settlement or compromise offer to the shipper.

(3) Arbitration Program Rules. This booklet contains all of the revised rules of the program, as administered by the FORUM along with a procedures timetable that is followed during the arbitration process. The booklet also includes sample forms that are used by the shipper to submit a claim to arbitration after both parties have agreed to arbitration.

AMSA sends this brochure to shippers and consumers to initiate the arbitration process or when they have simply requested more detailed information about the program.

Please take a moment to download and read through these rules and to become familiar with the revised features of the program. Email Dave Hauenstein at dhauenstein@moving.org or Denise Douglas at ddouglas@moving.org if you have questions about these requirements.