NAPLES, Italy — Take a look at your personal belongings. If you’re getting ready to move household goods, you need to understand what "full replacement value" really means. It’s not how Webster’s would define it.

The Full Replacement Value Act of 2003, amended in 2007, set the terms of liability for carriers hired to coordinate household goods moves. It was phased in starting in October 2007, and by last March it was used for all moves, stateside and international.

"It is important that servicemembers are not misled by the term ‘full replacement value,’ " said Nannette Davis, a spokeswoman for the Navy’s Fleet and Industrial Supply Centers in San Diego. "This does not necessarily mean that a member would receive the full replacement cost for every item destroyed, damaged or lost."

What it means is a carrier’s maximum liability is either $5,000 per shipment, or $4 per pound (up to $50,000) whichever is greater.

"That is the extent of the carrier’s liability," said Pat Leonard, director of claims and tort litigation for the Navy’s Office of the Judge Advocate General. "This is not negotiable. It is set by the terms of the contract."

Just by comparison, $4 per pound is less than half of what many airlines pay for lost luggage. The industry standard is $9.07 per pound, up to $635 per lost bag, under the "conditions of carriage" used by most major U.S. airlines.

When Greg and Pascale Schreiner received a settlement check from the company that coordinated their move from Naples, Italy, to Arizona last year, they couldn’t believe how little they were paid. Most of the items in their shipment were gone when it arrived in Arizona. They received a check for $5,000 after putting in a claim for $18,000.

"I was so upset!" Pascale Schreiner said. "This wouldn’t even cover the clothes that were stolen. I felt like after being robbed, then I was spit on."

There is a way to recoup more money for lost, damaged or stolen items if servicemembers don’t feel they’ve received a fair settlement from a carrier. Cases can be transferred to a military claims office, but those claims are paid based on depreciation or repair cost — whichever is less.

The Schreiners are in the process of filing with a military claims office, as is Debbie Moors, who also lost most of her household goods shipment when she transferred to Naples.

"I doubt I’ll get a fair settlement from the government," said Moors. "I certainly didn’t get one from the shipping company."

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