Getting the Right Insurance Coverage for Moving
Moving can be a stressful time—whether you’re moving locally or out-of-state, on your own or with a moving company. But knowing you have the right insurance to protect your belongings can ease the stress, so here are some tips for getting proper coverage before you putting the first piece of furniture on the truck.
Before You Move
Homeowners and renters policies provide coverage for your belongings up to the limits of your policy while your personal property is at your residence. However, your home insurance will not pay for any damage done to personal property while in the care of movers (i.e. the physical movement of belongings by movers). You can purchase trip transit insurance to cover your personal property for perils including theft, disappearance or fire while in transit or storage, but it does not provide coverage for breakage. Trip transit insurance can be written for the full value of your property, or as excess coverage over and above that provided by the moving company.
Ask your insurance professional the following four questions before you move:
- What kind of coverage does my homeowners/renters policy provide for my personal belongings when moving from one home to another? Your homeowners or renters policy typically covers personal property in transit and in storage facilities on an actual cash value basis. There is optional special perils contents coverage that will cover breakage of all but fragile items (collectibles, china, vases, fine arts, etc.). Fragile itemsof high value can be appraised and scheduled on a Fine Arts floater with optional breakage coverage added.
- What types of disasters are covered under a trip transit policy? Typically the same perils that are covered under your homeowners or renters policy are covered by a transit policy. This does not include breakage or damage done to your possessions by the moving company. Nor does the policy cover flooding at a storage facility.
- Do I have special coverage for my expensive jewelry or art work? If not, consider getting a special “floater” policy that will fully cover your luxury items no matter where they are located when the loss occurs and will even pay if the item is lost. In addition there is no deductible on a floater.
- If I am shipping a car, do I need additional insurance coverage? Before you settle on which auto shipping company to use, ask the companies you are considering for their insurance certificate—they are required by law to have one. It is possible that your auto insurance will also cover the vehicle so check with your insurance company: Is the coverage the same while the automobile is being shipped? Do you have to provide the company with any notification?
If you choose to move yourself, be sure to check the following:
- Do you have replacement cost and special perils contents endorsements on your current homeowners policy? These provide the best possible coverage to the items being moved.
- If you are renting a truck, consider buying the optional collision damage waiver coverage from the rental company. Collision and comprehensive coverage likely will not transfer to a non-owned moving van, only to a private passenger vehicle.
- If you choose professional movers, be sure to check the following:
- Determine exactly what kind and how much coverage the moving company provides for property loss and/or damage.
- Carefully check the contract for the estimated value of your possessions and match it to your own list. A up-to-date home inventory will make this task easier (see below for tools that can help).
- Determine the maximum value of the mover’s insurance should your goods be damaged, and make sure it is sufficient for your needs.
- Check that the moving company’s policy includes coverage for damage done to your premises—both the house you are leaving and the one you’re moving into.
- Most moving insurance policies specify a time-limit for filing claims—know what the time-limits are, and whether they are reasonable.
Moving insurance policies generally offer several different levels of coverage. The level you choose will determine the type and amount of reimbursement you will receive if items are lost or damaged. It is important to understand the various types of protection available and the charges for each option, so always ask your moving company to provide the specific policy terms in writing.
Under federal law, all interstate movers must offer two different liability options: Full Value Protection and Released Value Protection. Most movers offer both options for intra-state moves, too. Keep in mind that his liability coverage is not technically insurance and therefore is not governed by state insurance laws.
Full Value Protection is the more comprehensive plan; under this plan, your mover is liable for the replacement value of any lost or damaged belongings in your shipment. If any of your personal property is lost, destroyed or damaged while in your mover's custody, your mover will, at its discretion, offer to:
- Repair the item.
- Replace it with a similar item.
- Make a cash settlement for the cost of the repair or the current market replacement value.
The cost for Full Value Protection liability coverage varies by mover; you can also choose different deductible levels that will reduce or increase the price.
Released Value protection is less costly, since it is offered at no additional charge beyond the agreed-upon moving fee. However, it provides only minimal protection. Under this option, the mover assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound per article. For example, if your mover lost or damaged a 10-pound stereo component valued at $1,000, you would only receive $6.00 in compensation (60 cents x 10 pounds).
If you have separate liability coverage on top of the Released Value protection, the mover remains liable for the amount up to 60 cents per pound per article; but the rest of the loss is recoverable from the insurance company up to the limit of the insurance you have purchased. Your mover is required to issue the separate liability policy or other written record of the purchase and provide you with a copy at the time of purchase.
Other Things to Consider
If you are going to need temporary or permanent storage for some of your items before or after the move, learn about insurance for storage items.
Also, don’t forget to notify your insurance and credit card companies of your change of address.
After the Move
- As you are unpacking make sure you note any damage caused by the movers and watch the deadline for insurance claims.
- Make sure you change the locks on your new residence.
- Verify that banks, credit cards, IRS, loans, insurance, pension plans have your new address.
- Schedule a time get your drivers license updated with your new address.
- Confirm with your auto and home insurance professionals that they have your new address and other information that could affect your rates. For example, your auto or homeowner premiums could be lower if you have a shorter commute, are living in a different part of the state or country or in a gated community, have alarm systems or other security features in place.
Creating a Home Inventory
The best time to do a home inventory is before putting all your things in place or when buying new items for your home. The I.I.I. has a suite of mobile apps and software that can help. With the Know Your Stuff® - Home Inventory app, creating and updating your home inventory is easy and efficient. Enter information and photos of belongings either through the app or through the I.I.I.’s free Web-based software and data will automatically synchronize between the two. And with the free, secure online storage you will have access to your inventory anywhere, any time. The I.I.I.’s Know Your Coverage® app can guide you in determining if you have the right type and amount of insurance coverage for your new home and belongings.