Congratulations! You found your new place! Whether you're moving on your own, or hiring a moving company to transport your belongings, it's wise to consider insurance to protect your personal property during the move—no matter how long or short the distance.
How Your Home Insurance Can Help Insure Your Move
There is probably a clause in your homeowner and renter policy that covers your items while in transit, or in temporary storage. However, these clauses are subject to the terms and conditions of the contract.
If you are hiring professional movers, your coverage may be limited. You may be able to purchase additional endorsements from your home insurance company to cover specific risks that concern you.
Keep in mind that if you use your home insurance and have to file a claim, your premiums will increase, and that's an ongoing cost. It could be more cost-effective to get a one-time policy just for the move. Compare and see.
Questions to Ask About Home Insurance Covering a Move
Here are things you need to understand and some questions to ask your insurance representative:
- What kind of coverage does my policy provide while I move?
- If I move over several days, how long will items be covered at both locations?
- Is my home or renter insurance coverage limited while my items are in transit?
- Are my jewelry, wines, or fine arts covered during a move? What kind of coverage is included?
Some high-value items have special limits on how much will be paid in a claim. If you do not have coverage included, you may be able to buy a special floater or rider to cover these items. Some policies may include breakage. Specialty high-value home insurers can offer you coverage for your lifestyle even after your move.
- Is mysterious disappearance or theft covered during my move?
- Are items in storage covered, and for how long?
- Is breakage covered?
- If there is a claim, will the items be paid on an Actual Cash Value (depreciated value) or a Replacement Cost basis? Is there an option to upgrade coverage so you can get replacement cost?
- What deductible will I have to pay if I make a claim? Can I choose a higher deductible to save money?
Should You Buy Coverage From a Moving Company?
If you are using a moving company, you may have the option to purchase different levels of moving protection. What they offer is not technically considered "insurance" under state insurance laws, but these are protections you can look into:
- Full Value Protection: Coverage for repair or replacement
- Released Value Protection: May be offered at no additional charge, but would only include actual cash value coverage based on price per pound. For a 10-pound stereo, at a rate of 60 cents per pound, you would get a mere $6 of compensation.
The moving company may offer you the option to supplement the "included" Released Value Protection with a liability policy at an additional fee. If you purchase this option you may then be able to set a limit of insurance for the value of your items. In this case, you should ask for a copy of the liability policy you have purchased and check the details to make sure what you are buying is what you need. Get everything in writing.
Things to ask your mover:
- How will the value of damaged items be determined?
- Does the contract's estimated value align with your own home inventory?
- Is coverage different if you pack your own things?
- What is the claims process? Is there a time limit?
- What if my old home gets damaged during the move? Is this covered?
- What is the deductible? Can it be raised to save money?
If your mover doesn't offer coverage, they should have a commercial liability policy you can make a claim against.
What Is a Trip Transit Policy or Endorsement?
The trip transit policy insures your property for damage during a specific trip or transit event. In this case, the trip transit policy would be covering you for your specific move.
It can cover you in the same way that your home insurance would cover your personal items, but would not necessarily cover damage caused by the movers themselves.
Ask for all the details of this coverage since it may vary from insurer to insurer. For example, trip transit would not normally cover breakage, but may cover mysterious disappearance.
What If Damage Is Caused By Someone Other Than Movers?
If you are just moving with friends and not "hiring" them for the move, if they damage your property while moving you may have some recourse against them through their personal liability insurance or they may be able to compensate you for damages under the voluntary property damage clause of their home or tenant policy.
Most people do not like the idea of holding friends financially responsible for damages while they were volunteering to help, but it may be an option if something really valuable gets damaged.
Important: Insurance policies may limit coverage of people while they are employed or hired to do a job. So if you expect your semi-professional movers or paid help to be able to cover damages through personal insurance, you will likely be out of luck.