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Is moving insurance worth it?

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Written by Tom Rains
Edited by Jon Bortin

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    Moving is an exciting but potentially frustrating experience. During your move, it’s crucial to make sure your household items are safe and secure. Sometimes, though, accidents happen. In these cases, it’s a good idea to have coverage.

    What is moving insurance?

    Consumers have three options for moving insurance:

    • Basic coverage: Also known as released value protection, this is the most fundamental form of coverage for moving.
    • Full coverage: Sometimes known as expanded valuation or full value protection moving insurance, this coverage lets you set the liability limit for the company. This means the company is responsible for more than just basic coverage.
    • Third-party insurance: Sometimes, even full coverage from a moving company isn’t enough. For more valuable items, opt for third-party insurance.

    Moving companies that perform interstate moves must provide basic and full coverage options. Technically, moving companies cannot sell insurance — in this case, what most people call “moving insurance” is actually moving coverage. Actual moving insurance is only available through third parties.

    Released value protection

    Released value protection, also known as basic coverage, is a federal requirement for interstate moving companies. Quotes from moving companies automatically include this coverage, so it doesn’t cost extra. Released value protection typically provides 60 cents per pound for lost items, which isn’t enough coverage for most people. The average weight of a 50-inch TV is 35 pounds, which means basic coverage only provides $21 in reimbursement if movers damage your TV.

    This coverage is void if you pack your own thing — you assume responsibility by packing. Basic coverage is best for those moving a short distance with few high-value items or who want to save money.

    Who might use basic coverage: A college student making a short move from their dorm room to their parents’ house for the summer might opt for released value protection if they are strapped for cash and don’t have any items of especially high value.

    Full value protection moving insurance

    Full value protection moving insurance offers significantly more coverage than the 60 cents per pound offered by released value protection. A common valuation is $6 per pound. That means, if your total shipment was 5,000 pounds and all of it is somehow lost, destroyed or damaged, you’re entitled to up to $30,000. Full valuation coverage typically costs about 1% of the value of the items you're movings.

    Some companies do offer full valuation based on the actual estimated value of your items. If you’re interested, ask each moving company if it offers this when you’re gathering quotes.

    Although the coverage is “full,” it still can leave some consumers wanting more, especially for small but valuable items. These consumers usually resort to third-party insurance.

    Who might use full coverage: Families planning a cross-country move might opt for full value protection moving insurance. This is especially likely if they are willing to spend a bit more to insure their household items or if they are worried about a natural disaster or other event damaging all of their family’s possessions.

    Third-party moving insurance

    Because weight determines basic and full coverage, those options don’t adequately cover high-value items. Full valuation coverage’s $6 per pound rate doesn’t sufficiently cover jewelry, which usually weighs less than a pound. Third-party moving insurance is a good option to cover these types of items.

    Consumers purchase third-party moving insurance to cover damage from:

    • Natural disasters
    • Mechanical and electrical accidents
    • Mold and mildew
    • Moths and insects
    • Temporary storage
    • Damage to one part of a collection or set

    Who might use third-party insurance: An elderly couple moving across the state who wants to insure their jewelry, some antiques and several valuable paintings benefits from third-party insurance that adequately insures expensive belongings. This couple should also opt for full coverage from the moving company for the rest of their possessions.

    Do I need moving insurance?

    You need moving insurance if you want to make sure your household items are covered in case of damage or loss. It’s worth it to pay a small fraction of your items' total value to protect yourself financially in a worst-case scenario.

    Free basic coverage is not enough for most people. Consider upgrading to full valuation protection or opting for third-party insurance for items of high value.

    What is covered under moving insurance?

    Keep in mind that moving coverage and moving insurance are technically two different things. Moving companies offer moving coverage, and moving insurance is available through third-party insurance companies.

    • Moving companies cover: Loss or damage incurred while items are under the care of the moving company, up to a certain dollar limit.
    • Third-party insurance covers: Damage from acts out of the moving company’s control or beyond the liability limit.

    What isn’t covered by the moving company?

    Basic or expanded coverage from the moving company doesn’t cover a few things. If a moving company isn’t directly involved with the items, the company isn’t responsible for them. Examples include:

    • Items movers didn’t pack
    • Natural disasters that damage goods
    • Damage in storage not associated with the moving company

    Third-party insurance, on the other hand, does cover items damaged under these circumstances.

    Will my current insurance cover my move?

    Your homeowners insurance, renters insurance or condo insurance might cover part of your move. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance company to see what’s covered. Some insurance companies cover a move in the following ways:

    • Coverage for belongings not at home
    • Relocation insurance
    • Trip transit insurance
    • Total loss coverage

    One problem with covering a move using an existing insurance plan is that your future premiums might increase if you make a claim.

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      How much does moving insurance cost

      The cost of moving insurance varies based on the type of coverage you purchase and the details of the coverage.

      Released value protection

      Released value protection, or basic coverage, is almost always free. You just have to make sure you agree to it in your contract.

      Full value protection moving insurance

      Full-value protection typically costs 1% of the total estimated value of your household goods. Here is how to calculate full-valuation protection costs:

      1. The moving company weighs the household items. In this case, let’s assume they weigh 5,000 pounds.
      2. They give a value for each pound, usually $6. In this case, the moving company would value a 5,000-pound shipment at $30,000.
      3. The cost is typically 1% of the total value. You pay 1% of $30,000, or $300, for coverage.

      Full coverage cost estimates, based on a $6 per pound valuation

      Weight of moveValue of goodsFull coverage cost
      2,000 pounds$12,000$120
      5,000 pounds$30,000$300
      10,000 pounds$60,000$600

      Third-party insurance

      The cost of third-party insurance varies based on the company and policy, but prices range from 1% to 5% of the total valuation. Insuring items valued at $5,000 would cost you $150 at a 3% rate.

      Estimated costs for third-party insurance

      Value of covered items1% of valuation3% of valuation5% of valuation

      How to get movers insurance

      By federal law, basic moving coverage comes with every interstate move. If you want to upgrade to more comprehensive coverage, ask a moving company for details on its policy before you sign a contract. If the company’s policies don’t offer enough coverage, reach out to a third party for insurance.

      Moving insurance FAQ

      Are moving companies responsible for damages?
      They are only responsible to a certain extent. Movers are responsible for damage to your home and items they packed. They are also responsible for items damaged or lost in transit. Movers aren’t responsible for items they didn’t pack, damage caused by natural disasters or belongings damaged while in temporary storage not affiliated with their company.
      Does my homeowners insurance cover moving?
      In some cases, yes. It’s best to check with your homeowners insurance company since policies differ.
      Does renters insurance cover moving?
      Renters insurance typically doesn’t provide adequate coverage for moving. Consult your renters insurance policy for full details.
      What if I’m moving from my parents’ home to a new place?
      If you are moving out of your parents’ home and are under their policy, their insurance might cover part of your move. This isn’t always the case, but it’s worth asking your parents’ insurance agent.

      Bottom line

      If you can afford to pay for expanded moving coverage, we recommend it. Paying a small premium to insure all aspects of your move is well worth it. For those with high-value items that need additional coverage, purchasing insurance from a third party is a good idea. For more information on full coverage, speak to a reputable moving company.

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