Relocating can be stressful, especially when you consider the idea that total strangers are handling many of your delicate, valuable belongings. While movers are professionals in their particular trade and are well skilled and experienced in transporting goods during moves, anything can happen.
If you’ve hired a moving company to help you relocate your belongings, what types of guarantees do they offer in the event that any of your items are damaged or lost during the moving process? Is their coverage enough? Would it be worth the extra money to purchase extra moving insurance? To answer these questions, you need to first understand exactly what will be covered by your moving company as well as your personal homeowner’s insurance.
Your Property Insurance Policy Might Provide Extra Coverage
If you have homeowner’s insurance – which you should – you might already have a certain amount of protection for your personal belongings should something happen during the move. Typical policies include coverage for items while in transit or in storage. However, you’ll need to verify the terms and conditions in the contract that this clause is subject to.
Ask your insurance company about the specific coverage that they offer during a move to find out if everything you want protected will be adequately covered. The company may even offer what’s known as a “Trip Transit Policy” which insures your belongings for any damage incurred during a specific trip, such as a move. However, while this policy would typically cover your personal items during a move, it might not necessarily provide coverage for damage caused by the movers.
It should also be noted that a new homeowner policy on your new home will typically only provide coverage for the goods after they’ve been moved in. That means it might not provide coverage for goods that are in transit.
If it’s discovered that the current policy you have doesn’t provide adequate coverage for certain belongings, additional insurance might be warranted.
Find Out Precisely What Type of Coverage Your Moving Company Offers
In addition to double-checking your own homeowner’s insurance policy, you should also take the time to read the fine print about the type of coverage that’s offered through your moving company’s insurance policy. It’s in your best interests to read over your moving contract with a fine-tooth comb to identify exactly what’s covered, and for how much.
All moving companies are liable for a certain amount of value of the goods that they transport according to federal government regulations, which means they can’t say that they are not responsible if any of your items are damaged during the move. However, this doesn’t necessarily translate into any type of guarantee for you. The basic liability that moving companies are obligated to offer is considered “valuation” coverage, which is not the same as insurance.
In particular, look for any of the following types of valuation coverage from your moving company’s insurance policy:
Complete Value Protection – Any personal property that is lost, damaged, or totally destroyed will be covered under this all-encompassing form of protection, as well as the costs associated with repairs or replacement. You’ll have to pay extra for this type of coverage, so make sure you find out how what the minimum coverage amount is, as well as the deductible. The moving company will then be on the hook to repair or replace the damaged or lost items.
Assessed Value Protection – This type of coverage is better suited for valuables that are not too large or heavy, such as jewelry, and is based on cost instead of weight. The higher the protection amount, the more this coverage will cost.
Declared Value Protection Based on Weight – With this type of coverage, the moving company will take the total weight of your belongings and multiply it by a certain amount per pound. This is the amount that the moving company would be liable for if they are responsible for any damage or destruction of your personal property. While this does not add any extra cost to your move, it can dramatically lower how much your moving company needs to pay should anything be damaged or lost. Typically, a rate of 60 cents per pound would be offered, which means that if a 40-pound chair is damaged or lost, for instance, you would only be compensated $24.
If you do decide to purchase additional insurance from your mover, make sure to ask for a full run-down of all the various options they offer. Inquire about how the value of damaged or lost goods is determined, and how you would be compensated. When you’re going over the moving contract, make sure what is outlined coincides with what you’ve estimated the value of all your goods to be.
Be Wary of the Fine Print in Many Moving Company Contracts
Although moving companies typically offer some form of insurance, there is often a loophole in the contract that they can tap into should anything happen. For instance, it’s not uncommon for contracts to stipulate that the moving company is not liable for any damages that happen while the items are in transit.
Things such as shifting of the boxes, improperly packed boxes, or falling of items onto other adjacent boxes would typically not be considered the liability of the mover if stated so in the contract. In addition, contracts will often stipulate that the movers will not be liable for any damage to goods if they were packed by the homeowner and not the movers themselves.
Buying Additional Insurance Coverage Outside of What the Movers Offer
If you’ve decided that additional coverage is warranted but you don’t want to go through your mover, you can always go with something that your current insurance provider offers, or even shop around with a third-party service. Give your current homeowner’s insurance company a call to see what types of additional coverage policies they offer that you can purchase outside of what you’re already getting with your current policy. Some providers offer add-on moving coverage to existing policies for a small fee.
If your current insurance provider doesn’t have an insurance policy product for moves, you can always shop around with a reputable third-party insurance provider. The costs for different policies will vary a great deal depending on how much coverage you need and the overall assessed value of your belongings that you want covered. There will also be a deductible that you will be responsible for paying should you ever have to file a claim. Be sure to inquire about exactly how much that will be.
The Bottom Line
Don’t make any assumptions about what moving companies or regular homeowner’s insurance policies will cover should any of your things get damaged or lost during the moving process. Do your due diligence and read through the policies offered, and consider adding a rider or purchasing additional coverage should you feel that what is currently being offered is not sufficient.
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