Are you moving soon? Whether you choose to hire a professional moving company or handle it yourself, there’s always a chance that things can go wrong. How much are you willing to pay to protect and possibly replace your possessions in the event of damage, loss or theft? Have you even thought about it?
Moving the contents of an apartment is a fairly involved process, and there is a chance some of those things could be damaged or even lost along the way. We’ll discuss the key ideas you need to know to affordably protect the things you’re moving. Read on to determine the best option for your move.
Moving insurance protects your belongings from being damaged or stolen while they are in transit during a move.
For do-it-yourself movers, buying moving insurance falls to the individual. When you hire the services of a moving company, the moving insurance options become more involved. This is because more people become responsible and liable for your items.
Moving insurance isn’t like traditional insurance. Instead, it’s technically valuation. It determines how your items will be valued if they are damaged, lost or stolen and who is responsible for that cost.
Depending on the length of your move, you’ll need to consider different movers insurance plans. For those who are planning an interstate move, federal laws exist to provide protection for your possessions. These laws are determined by The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They hold moving companies liable for damage occurring to goods they are moving across state lines. But how much are they liable for? And what if you are planning a move within state lines?
You’re already paying a chunk of change to have movers help you with your transition to a new home. It may be tempting to choose a cheap moving insurance option to avoid paying the additional price. Unfortunately, if something goes wrong you may be paying a lot more later.
Instead of automatically choosing the cheapest option, it’s important to understand the different moving insurance options and who is liable in each situation.
When your moving company estimates the cost of your move, the research they’ll do results in a moving valuation, also called a bill of lading. They will offer two options: Released value and full valuation.
The most basic coverage option for moving insurance is called released value. This coverage is free because it’s the least amount of protection allowed by law. While it’s free, you should still be sure to ask for it and ensure the coverage is listed in your contract.
With this option, the value of goods is based solely on weight. Released value coverage will assume a liability of 60 cents per pound rather than what it actually costs to replace the item. This means that if a 50-pound, 55-inch TV is damaged or lost, it will be valued at $30 rather than the few hundred dollars it’s actually worth.
Full replacement value protection is exactly what it sounds like. This coverage provides the owner the full value necessary to replace damaged, lost or stolen goods. With full replacement value protection, you would be reimbursed the full value of your 55-inch TV should it get damaged or lost.
When you get a moving estimate from a legitimate moving company, it will include this full value replacement. They may refer to it as full valuation. If you claim an item is damaged under full valuation coverage, the moving company has the option to repair the item, replace the item with an item of comparable value, pay you for the cost of repair or pay you the market value of the item.
While this option offers the most protection, it also costs the most. You will be expected to pay a premium upfront to receive this coverage.
If you have any items of extraordinary value such as antiques, art or couture clothing, you may need to purchase additional coverage. When getting an estimate, enquire about how these items are covered.
Are you still concerned about your items being fully covered? Are you planning a self-move with a rented moving truck? If your belongings are very high value, you may want to consider additional third-party insurance coverage. This coverage can be secured independently or with the help of the moving company. In the event that a claim is made, this typically kicks in after the moving company contributes its legal share.
Check your renters insurance policy to determine how you might be covered for moving. You may have some protection available for your personal property with certain limitations, but most likely you would need extra coverage to fully protect a move.
Do you get the same protections? If your move stays within the same state, the laws of that state will govern your protection as a mover, not federal guidelines. Click here to check your state’s rules.
There are actions you can take (or not take) which will affect how the law protects your things.
Keep in mind that insurance coverage may require that the moving company pack the goods in order to accept responsibility for their condition after transit.
Now that you’re aware of the technical details that make up moving insurance, you may be unsure of which option is right for you. Follow these steps to determine which valuation you should invest in.
There is a chance your items might already have some coverage. Contact your renters insurance agent to see what your plan covers and how they deal with moves.
Create a list of your belongings. Start with the larger, more expensive items such as furniture and electronics and then continue with smaller items like clothing or dishes. It may be helpful to walk around your home and list all the items you see.
Once you have them listed, write down their current market value. This is often different from the price you paid for them, especially if it’s been a few years since you purchased the item. Think about if you were selling it right now, how much do you think you could get for it? While you are calculating this, write down their weight as well.
If these items were damaged under the released value protection, how much would you get for them? Add up the weight of everything on your list. Multiply this by the 60 cents you would receive for each pound.
For example, moving a one-bedroom home has an average weight of 3,500 pounds. Under the released value protection this would be valued at $2,100.
To determine if the released value protection is sufficient, compare it to the total market value of your items. If it’s similar, then it will make the most financial sense to go with this option. If the released value is significantly lower than the total market value of your items, you’ll likely want to invest in the full value protection.
It’s important to read through the fine print of your moving company’s valuation. Be sure that it legally covers what they say they are going to. Hopefully, you won’t have to make a claim, but if you do, you want to be sure you’re getting what you agreed to.
Moving can be difficult, but doing your research will help make the process easier. For more tips, check out our moving advice page.