Whether you’re planning to move domestically or internationally and you’re wondering about insurance before moving, remember that no matter how careful you are in choosing movers, accidents can happen. Boxes can be bumped or dropped, or they can shift during transit—nothing can absolutely guarantee the safe arrival of your goods. What can be controlled is how effective your moving company is at resolving claims and making sure you’re adequately covered should an accident occur. Insurance will not prevent an accident, but it will provide the needed compensation (and some peace of mind) if it were to occur.
Types of Insurance
- Basic Coverage
Every moving company is required by law to include basic (standard) insurance with no extra cost to the consumer. However, in most cases this basic coverage bears little relationship to the actual value of your goods. It represents a compensation of 60 cents per pound per article, meaning the movers would be liable for a maximum of $60 for a 100-pound item.
Some movers may compensate you for the full weight of the carton in which the damaged object was in. However, if you happened to pack the carton yourself, you would get nothing, as owner-packed cartons are usually not insured. As we can see, this type of insurance is usually not enough to cover any actual losses.
- Added-Value Protection Coverage
This is extra coverage offered by the moving company—it just increases the amount of money you get per pound per article. This can be a variable amount, but is usually set at $2.
You can also arrange for exact coverage with your mover. This type of coverage provides better compensation, but still is dependent on the weight of your goods—a disadvantage when it comes to expensive objects that are not necessarily heavy.
- Market Value or Depreciated Value Coverage
For this coverage, the market value of the object lost or damaged is used to compensate the customer. However, it can be very tricky to determine the correct market value of your item—usually, you need to declare the value of all your belongings to the mover or insurer beforehand. This type of coverage is declining in popularity, owing to the increased use of Replacement Value Coverage.
- Replacement Value Coverage
Sometimes called the “New for Old Insurance,” this type of coverage will compensate you for the full value of your lost or damaged belongings according to the then-current market prices, but you will be paying for this protection through a higher premium.
No matter what coverage you purchase, some items will not be covered. In these cases, you should transport these belongings yourself. Examples of such items would be jewelry, coins, money, bank or mortgage papers. Also, home appliances, computers, TVs, stereos, and so forth are not covered unless it can be proven that the mover handled the items improperly and there is visible physical damage to the item. If you are moving fine art, valuable musical instruments or antiques, you should consider special measures to ensure their safety and protect against their loss or damage, such as having the piece specially wrapped and crated for maximum protection. Make an Inventory List
It is highly recommended to take a complete inventory of your belongings beforehand. This list should include all items that are being moved, their value, replacement price, and type of condition they are in. It helps immensely to take pictures of all the items (especially the more valuable ones) with a digital camera. This may take more of your time, but it is well worth it in case of an accident or loss of an item. When moving internationally, this list will be even more helpful because many customs and inspections agencies will require it.
- Always read the fine print in your moving contract—it may include loopholes and exclusions which may give you a great deal of trouble should your belongings be damaged or lost.
- Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions before signing a contract.
- When moving internationally, check if you are covered in that country as well.
- Keep a copy of your inventory list on you during travelling.
- It’s a good idea to find out if your insurance covers any damage done to your home while moving.