Moving Insurance Tips

You and I might call it moving insurance, but people in the industry call it "goods-in-transit insurance." You can buy it from your mover or from a separate insurance company. You might be able to get a better price on a policy you buy from the same firm that moves your stuff, but if something gets damaged and you need to file a claim, a separate insurance company might be more helpful.

What to know before you buy moving insurance

Check Your Home Insurance

Deciding which company to buy moving insurance from might be tough, but here's a bright spot: You might not need to buy as much as you thought – your home insurance might already include breakage and theft during transport of your belongings. However, your residential policy probably only covers a portion of the value of your personal effects, typically 10 percent. There might be a deductible as well. You'll want to reread your policy or talk to your insurance agent about whether your residential insurance covers moves.

Make a List

Regardless of what type of coverage you already have, you'll move more efficiently and avoid over or underspending if you write a home inventory before purchasing any insurance. Of course, this type of list makes a great case for planning your move as far in advance as possible, but you could do an abbreviated version of this exercise before moving, then return to the project later. This will help you maximize your residential insurance coverage. Go through every room in your dwelling and write down all of your personal effects and how much you paid for them. Include clothing and jewelry, electronics, furnishings, decor and, well, everything. This process is easier if you have receipts for your purchases, but perhaps you could make a point of hanging onto these documents going forward. If possible, take pictures or even video of everything, but skip this if time is short. Eventually you'll be able to add up the value of everything you own.

The total value on the inventory should dictate how much moving insurance to buy. Additionally, you can use the inventory as a checklist after the movers have finished unloading your belongings at your destination. In the event that something is damaged or missing, the inventory will help you file a claim more easily – I hope you don't have to go through that experience, but it's a lot more aggravating if you don't have an inventory to refer to.

Prices for Moving Insurance

Many movers sell insurance based on weight, ranging from 60 cents to $1.25 or more per pound depending on your location. The total value of your belongings becomes the amount of liability coverage you have, and that figure represents the most money you'd be able to request in a claim for reimbursement. Usually you'll get to choose one of three different variations on this maximum, and they merit careful consideration:

  • Declared value. Like I described above, the moving company or insurer determines the value of your belongings by multiplying their total weight by a fixed amount, which could range from 60 cents to $1.25 per pound or more.
  • Lump sum value. You declare in writing the total value of your possessions, and the insurer or mover sells you exactly that amount of coverage. I recommend you opt for this.
  • Full value protection. Also known as extra care protection, this type of coverage includes damaged, destroyed and lost items. Usually the moving company or insurer will specify a minimum amount per pound that you must buy, depending on the deductible. The average is about $4-$6 per pound.

No matter what the value of the belongings you're planning to move, it makes sense to buy moving insurance. Not doing so puts you at risk. Good luck with your move.

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