moving truck

Moving your possessions to a self-storage unit or from one home to another isn’t easy, but if you have the right moving insurance, it will be a less stressful experience.

Many of the things we prize most are kept in our homes: photos, artwork, childhood keepsakes and family heirlooms. When your property is loaded onto a moving truck, there are no guarantees that it’ll reach its destination safely.

While some homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies offer limited protection, you shouldn’t assume that your policy will adequately cover your move, said Rosemary Campbell, vice president of personal lines at Cheney Insurance in Damariscotta, ME.

“When in doubt, call the insurance company,” Campbell said.

In most cases, you’ll need to buy an additional policy from a moving company or a private insurer to be fully protected, said Kevin Foley, a New Jersey insurance agent.

“Call your insurance company and go over what is covered and what is not,” Foley said. “Explain to them that you are going to be making a move and you want to know how your policy will respond if something gets damaged.”

States typically have their own rules and regulations governing moves within state boundaries. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, moving companies are required by federal law to bear some liability for the things you pay to transport when moving from one state to another. They typically offer two coverage options: full-value protection and released value.

Full-Value Coverage

Full-value protection requires a mover to provide adequate reimbursements. If anything protected under the terms of policy is lost, destroyed or damaged while in your mover’s custody, the company must do one of the following:

  • 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 price you pay for full-value protection varies from company to company. The policy may be subject to some limitations. For example, movers might limit their responsibility for loss or damage to articles of “extraordinary value,” unless you include additional items on shipping documents. Articles of extraordinary value are items whose replacement cost exceeds $100 a pound, such as jewelry, silverware or antiques.

insurance policy

Released-Value Coverage

The cheapest protection available through your moving company is “released value.” It typically is offered as part of the cost of the move. However, as with most things, you get what you pay for: Your protection with this coverage is pretty limited.

Under this policy, the mover assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound for each article, said Tony Hopkins, vice president of The Horton Group, a provider of moving and storage insurance. For example, if your mover lost or damaged a 20-pound electronic item valued at $2,000, you would get no more than $12 in compensation.

Third-Party Insurance

If you decide to get a released-value policy, your moving company may offer to sell you separate liability coverage. The cost of this insurance will be in addition to the basic moving fees. Make sure to ask for a copy of the policy at the time of purchase.

Under this coverage, your mover still must pay up to 60 cents per pound for damaged items. However, the remainder of your loss can be recovered under the separate policy.

Add-On Coverage

If your homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover your move and you aren’t satisfied with the options offered by your moving company, you can turn to an insurer that specializes in moving coverage, said Pete Moraga, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California.

Moraga said the company where you bought your homeowner’s policy might offer “in transit” insurance. This type of policy may cover personal property for such perils as theft, lost items or fire. You should read such policies closely to understand their terms, Hopkins said.

In-transit insurance can be written for the value of your property, or as an excess-coverage policy. Excess coverage protects you beyond any guarantees provided by your moving company.

If you have expensive jewelry or artwork, consider purchasing a personal items “floater” policy that will fully cover the loss of your luxury items.

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