Love at first sight! Four words with such a multifaceted meaning. Who could have predicted that this is what exactly you felt when you saw your new house? It is always exciting when you find the right house and you are all set to move into it. However, worrisome thoughts about whether your stuff will get damaged during the move can very easily dampen this excitement. How do you make sure that your belongings are safe and secured while you move? You might wonder, “Do I need a moving insurance?”. Let us answer that for you.
Back to The Basics: Moving Insurance and Valuation
Even if you have hired the best movers available in your town, moving accidents can always happen. Imagine that the mover drops your expensive china vase or if there are sudden rains while you are in transit which damages a lot of your belongings. A moving insurance essentially offers to protect your belongings from these unpredictable accidents and even thefts.
There are different kinds of insurances that give you a different level of protection, but we shall come to that later. You should know this when you hire a mover that they can’t sell any insurance policies. However, legally they are required to provide their clients with certain valuation options. When moving companies say insurance, what they actually mean is coverage. A true moving insurance can only be sold by third parties.
What exactly is valuation then? A valuation coverage essentially informs you about the amount of liability your moving company will assume if your belongings get damaged or lost during the move. One thing to remember is that limited coverage is provided by these liability options. The level of liability assumed by the company determines the amount of reimbursement done by them in case of accidents and thefts (that happened from their side).
Most people think that valuation and insurance are two synonymous things. Ensure that you know that these are two different things and ask questions to your movers if you do not understand anything. Essentially, there are two different types of valuation options that an interstate moving company should mandatorily offer according to the federal law. These are Released Value Protection and Full Value Protection.
1. Release Value Protection
This option is included in all the intra state and interstate moves. It is also called the basic coverage protection. In this, the mover assumes liability for all objects of the move, hence it provides only minimal protection. Under this plan, the mover shall assume liability for not more than 60 cents per pound per object. For instance, if the mover damages an object which weighs ten pounds, the mover will compensate you with $6 for the object. The market price of the object does not play any role here. This valuation plan is included in the total cost of your move i.e., it does not cost you anything extra. Nonetheless, you have to sign a statement on your invoice in order to agree to this valuation plan.
2. Full Value Protection
Even though buying insurance will give a more comprehensive protection to your belongings, availing a Full Value Protection will make the mover assume liability for the market value of the item. You will have to pay some extra bucks for availing this option. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the mover can do either of the following three things:
- The mover can repair the items and restore it to its pre-damage condition.
- The mover can replace the item.
- The mover can just reimburse you for the cost of repair or the cost of replacing the object.
There is one limitation to this valuation option that you need to pay attention towards. Movers assume liability only for the objects that are of immense value. The client is required to give the names of the objects to the movers in writing and state explicitly that the item is valuable in nature. A valuable item can be anything which costs more than $100 per pound. Thus, items like china, antiques, jewelry etc. could be categorized as ‘valuable’. You will have to ask your mover about the cost of this coverage as different movers offer it for different prices. It is advisable to ask for a complete explanation about this plan before taking any concrete decisions.
What is not Covered by the Valuation Plan?
While you ask for the details about how your belongings will be protected under what circumstances, don’t forget to ask about what is covered by your valuation plan. Movers can’t predict unfavorable circumstances and control everything. Under the valuation coverage, the movers do not assume liability for damage that happens under certain situations like:
- Not stating in writing that an object is expensive or valuable prior to the move.
- Damages caused to your belongings by yourself. You might decide to save up money and pack your belongings yourself. Know that there is no coverage for damage caused to items while you were packing them.
- Not informing the movers when you pack hazardous, dangerous or perishable items for your move.
- Failing to report the damaged or lost items instantly after the move. Generally, there is a stipulated time period (About nine months) within which you can report these things. Post this time, the company will not assume any liability.
- Natural disasters which end up damaging your things.
It is important to remember that the rules and regulations regarding liability assumed by companies change from state to state. You can check with the consumer affairs agency as well as the state moving association if you have any doubts regarding the rules of valuation coverage and moving insurance.
Is Additional Insurance needed?
As you might have noticed, you are not going to get full compensation for most of your belongings if they get damaged or stolen. The scope of the valuation coverage is extremely limited. Then what do you do? Some moving companies will offer you something called the Separate Liability Coverage. This means that you can still buy Full Coverage from certain third-party insurance companies.
As the moving companies cannot legally sell insurance, they provide their clients with additional moving insurance via third party sellers if you pay some additional fees. The movers cover the 60 cents per pound of damage while the additional insurance covers the remaining 40 cents. A third-party insurance is typically purchased by customers to get paid for damage caused by:
- Electrical and mechanical accidents
- Natural disasters like tornadoes, heavy rains, earthquakes etc.
- Moths and Other Insects
- Temporary storage
- Damage to a part of a collection
Types Of Moving Insurance To Consider For A DIY Move
You might decide to move by yourself and wonder about insuring your move. As mentioned above, your homeowner’s insurance gives you coverage for your belongings even if it’s you who is moving your own stuff. If by any chance you realize that your homeowner’s insurance isn’t giving you coverage, here are some moving insurances that you can consider.
1. Relocation or Trip Transit Insurance
This type of insurance will give you coverage on your belongings while you are in transit. When purchased from third party companies, it will give you coverage for natural disasters, electrical and mechanical accidents, mold, high value items and damages to collections or sets.
2. Rental Truck Moving Coverage
The truck rental companies have varying coverage packages for you when you rent a truck for your move. This plan can cover you, your passengers, the truck and the cargo. Different protection policies under this plan include:
- Insurance for towing devices on the truck
- Cargo protection
- Medical insurance for you and the other passengers
- Coverage for accidents you cause
- Damage waiver for accident damage to the truck.
Do I really Need a Moving Insurance?
This question might seem rattling at first, but it has a very simple answer. It all depends on how far you are moving and how valuable your possessions are. Say you are moving from one street to another, you probably won’t need insurance (unless you aren’t sure about weather conditions). However, if it’s a long-distance winter season move from Colorado to New York, there is a possibility of you getting stuck in a snow storm which might put your belongings in peril. Purchasing insurance may sound like a big investment, you will however eventually be pleased about buying it in case something goes wrong.
What Valuation Plan Should I Go For?
Before you try to figure out what kind of valuation plans and moving insurance policies you will be needing for your, it is advisable to first do the following things…
1. Assessing The Value Of Your Possessions
You need to plan and calculate the cost of replacing your possessions before you move. But for that, you will first need to assess the value of your household items. For this, it is recommended that you create an exhaustive list of all the items that you own. From your furniture to your shoes, try not to miss out on anything. This task may seem frustrating and tedious. Trust us though, since doing this will definitely save you from a lot of future stress and monetary losses.
Once you have them on a list, try to figure out the market value of your belongings. You could either ask local vendors or go online and check out websites like Ebay. You could check the price at which similar items are being sold. Once you are done determining the dollar worth of your belongings, it’s time to get an estimate of the weight of your items. You can easily do this by searching for a weight calculator online.
The next step after this would be to consider full value protection against released value protection. See for yourself which valuation option would be better suited for your move.
2. Time To Take Out Your Calculator
If you are opting for a released value protection, examine whether the liability assumed by the moving company is enough. For instance, say your household possessions weigh 20,000 pounds. Then according to the valuation plan, the company will assume only $12,000 of liability. If your items are more or less worth the same amount, you should probably just go with the released value protection. However, if your belongings are worth $21,000, then you might have to consider investing in a full value protection plan.
3. Additional Charges for Moving Insurance
As mentioned above, you might need to consider investing in a full value protection which will cost you around $500$ – $1000. When you purchase it, you need to make sure whether it’s actually worth purchasing. If you own a very expensive and valuable object that costs more than $50,000, it is always better to invest a small amount beforehand instead of suffering from a monetary loss if the object gets damaged. You will also have to look into purchasing additional insurance from third party companies, in case there is a huge coverage gap. If you feel that both the valuation options aren’t sufficient, you will definitely have to consider other kinds of moving insurances.
A Few Tips to Protect your Move Better
- Click pictures of all your items, especially valuable ones before you move. These pictures would back you up when you claim that the movers damaged your stuff during the transit.
- Packaging your items carefully is key to prevent any future damages. If you plan to pack your stuff up by yourself, make sure that you are well informed about the kind of packaging supplies you should be using. Remember to use a lot of padding so as to avoid item breakages.
- Check each and every item immediately post the move. If you notice any damage or theft, inform your mover as soon as possible. If you fail to report it in time, the moving company can legally deny any liability.
- Lastly, always conduct thorough background checks before hiring a moving company. A good moving company will always diligently protect your belongings from damage.
It is very easy to get baffled when you’re faced with so many options. Trust us, there is no reason to worry if you have found out your options and figured out the value and weight of your belongings. If you are confused about whether you need moving insurance at all, we would recommend that you purchase it if you can afford it. You can’t predict accidents and after all, isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?