Do I Need Moving Insurance?

Asha Kennedy
Researcher & Writer
Read More
Published on September 08, 2021
7 min read

While damages are often the last thing people want to think about when planning to hire a moving company, they’re usually the first thing to ruin the moving experience entirely. And oftentimes, renters or homeowners insurance policies do not cover items damaged during a move. 

In general, moving company valuation options, especially full-value protection, are a great choice. But if you’ve got a house full of high-value, irreplaceable items, or you’re more concerned about weather-related damage to your belongings—make sure to go with added third-party insurance.

Read on to learn why covering your belongings during a move can save you the extra stress, disappointment, and money that can come with trying to replace damaged items.

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What is moving insurance?

Just like you can get into a fender bender no matter how good a driver you are, moving accidents can happen to even the most careful people—and moving companies. And if you wouldn’t drive your car without getting auto insurance, you’ll definitely want to consider investing in moving insurance.

Moving insurance offers protection for your belongings that get damaged during a move. The details of what your insurance covers depend on your policy, but it can range anywhere from fires or floods to a mover accidentally dropping your new 70-inch TV.

Technically, moving companies can’t sell insurance, but under federal law they are required to provide valuation options. You can also get insurance from third-party insurance providers to cover any items moving companies won’t, (like high-value items) which we’ll get into later.

Types of moving insurance and valuation

Coverage optionsCoverage amountClaims optionsCostCoverage for expensive itemsSupplemental coverage ability
Released (basic) value protectionCovers up to $0.60 per pound, per itemDoes not cover full market value of your belongings, and no repair or replacementOffered at no additional chargeN/AN/A
Full-value protection (FVP)Provides full coverage of your entire inventoryOffers either repairs, replacement, or a cash settlement equal to the item’s market value Additional cost separate from your moving package, usually based on your own valuationDoes not cover items of extraordinary value (over $100 per pound)N/A
Third-party insuranceProvides full coverage of your entire inventory, despite natural disasters.Offers either repairs, replacement, or a cash settlement equal to the item’s market value Additional cost you pay to another companyCovers items of extraordinary value (exceeding $100 per pound) Can supplement released value protection

What is valuation?

Insurance is always offered by a third party, and can cover any damage or loss of your goods during the move—while valuation is the amount of liability a moving company takes if your belongings get damaged during transit. Coverage under valuation is much more limited than insurance and usually refers only to how much a company will reimburse you for an item.

Different moving companies offer different types of valuation. Below are the two most common forms of valuation.

Note: “Valuation” can also refer to how much value you place on your own belongings. You may encounter this if your moving company asks you to estimate the value of your shipment, which it uses to determine the cost of your full-replacement value option.

Released value protection

Also referred to as basic coverage protection, this option offers bare minimum coverage and is included in intrastate moves and interstate moves. For intrastate moves, this option covers $0.30 per pound per item, and for interstate moves, it covers $0.60 per pound per item. For example, if you had a 100-pound dresser that broke during the move, you would receive $60 for it.

It’s important to note that your items won’t be covered as high as their market value, but this option is nice because it’s always included in the cost of your move.

Full-value protection (FVP)

This type of valuation—which costs extra—offers more extensive coverage than the basic coverage but is still not as comprehensive as insurance. With FVP, moving companies are liable for the current market value of your belongings and will offer one of three solutions if they break one of your belongings during a move:

  1. Repair the item
  2. Replace the item with a similar one
  3. Offer a cash settlement equivalent to the broken item’s current market value
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Watch for caveats

Unless you specify in writing that an item is worth more than $100 per pound, licensed and insured movers aren’t liable for “items of extraordinary value”—so be aware of this loophole.


How do I know if my moving company offers valuation?

Again, under federal law, moving companies are required to offer valuation options, with released value protection included in every package. All moving companies offer some sort of valuation policy, but to see what a specific company offers, you’ll have to peruse its website or give them a ring.

Take a look at our 5 Best Moving Moving Companies of 2021 to compare our choices and find the right company for your move.

What doesn’t valuation cover?

Anything that happens beyond the control of licensed movers (e.g., earthquakes, fires, floods, etc.) isn’t necessarily covered by valuation, and there are certain reasons why your moving company might limit how much liability it takes. Here are some examples:

  • If you packed your own belongings instead of having movers pack them for you
  • If you failed to report lost or damaged items immediately after the move (for most moving companies, this window of opportunity is up to nine months)
  • If you failed to specify in writing prior to a move that an item has extraordinary (or high) value
  • If you packed dangerous or precarious materials (like batteries, hazardous chemicals, or explosives) without notifying your mover

A key advantage to using moving insurance is that, unlike valuation, it doesn’t have liability limits on damaged items, and it covers things like natural disasters.

Packing is the key to a successful move. Using the best packing methods and materials can make all the difference. And understanding the correct way to pack high-value items like antiques will help reduce damages on the back end.


What is third-party insurance?

Third-party insurance providers handle moving insurance for moving companies, since moving companies aren’t authorized to sell insurance themselves. With third-party insurance, you can still purchase full coverage—just from a separate provider.

For example, if you’ve chosen basic (or released) value protection to cover your move but want additional coverage, third-party insurance lets you pull this off. Since basic protection covers only up to $0.60 per pound, third-party insurance can help make up the $0.40 difference to the dollar.

Before getting third-party insurance to cover what your moving company’s insurance does not cover, you may want to see if your homeowners or renters insurance policy already covers you. It is uncommon but not impossible!

So do I need moving insurance?

This all depends on how pricey and valuable your goods are—and if you want insurance over valuation. For instance, if you live in Florida and are moving during prime hurricane season, it might make more sense to go with insurance, since it protects against water damage.

But if you’re moving locally and your concern is less about unpredictable weather and more about a mover shattering your favorite Martha Stewart plate set, you’re probably better off going with a valuation option.

But doesn’t my homeowners policy cover the move?

It’s all case-by-case, but generally speaking, most homeowners insurance policies do not cover household goods in a move—or their coverage is extremely limited. Homeowners insurance policies cover your belongings while movers are packing them in your home, but your belongings won’t be covered in transit, which is the whole point of having moving insurance in the first place.

If the thought of this worries you, and valuation doesn’t seem like enough protection, moving company insurance can be a good solution. But remember, moving companies aren’t authorized to sell insurance themselves, so you’ll have to get it from a third party.

How much does moving insurance cost?

The out-of-pocket cost for moving insurance will vary depending on the value of your belongings. Full-value protection (offered by your moving company) will cost between 1-2% of the overall value of your property, while released value protection is provided for free. Third-party insurance will generally cost about $1.25 per pound, but these costs can vary from company to company.

For example, if you are shipping a 400-pound table worth $1000, your moving company will charge you between $10-20 to cover with full replacement value, while a third-party insurance company will charge $500.

How can I figure out the value of my household goods?

Figuring out the value of your household goods prior to a move is important in estimating and preparing for the replacement cost—so be sure to study up on how to perform a home inventory.

To start, we recommend looking at the quoted weight of your load per room, provided by your salesperson. Knowing this can help you gauge the general cost of a room so you can know what to expect in compensation or replacement costs. Your mahogany, Ron Burgundy-inspired office, for example, will probably be worth more than your kids’ plastic-filled playroom.

If you’re worried about how much a particular item costs, we recommend doing some online research. For example, you could look up similar items on Amazon or eBay to get a rough estimate.

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Taking photos is helpful for damage claims

It can be helpful to take photos of your belongings before the movers arrive. That way, you can submit before and after photos when you file damage claims, which will strengthen your claim and make it easier for you to receive an immediate response from your moving company.


The takeaway

All moving companies offer two different kinds of valuation. Both of them can protect your belongings but only to a certain extent. Plus, you’ll always need to provide proof of damage (like pictures with a timestamp) to file a damage claim with your moving company. And if you packed your own belongings, reimbursement may be even more difficult.

If you want 100% coverage, you’ll have to supplement your moving company’s valuation option with a third-party insurance vendor.

Remember:

  • Released value protection, aka basic valuation, offers coverage up to $0.60 per pound on items—this could mean no real compensation for large or high-value items.
  • Full-value replacement repairs give full coverage on all your items but don't cover items that are worth more than $100 per pound.
  • Third-party insurance supplements valuation coverage on extraordinary items more than $100 per pound on damage from natural disasters.

Moving insurance FAQ

Are moving companies always responsible for damages?

Moving companies are not always responsible for damages. The amount of liability depends on the type of valuation you choose when you hire your mover.

Full-replacement Value Protection will provide the most coverage to your belongings without purchasing additional moving insurance.

Does homeowners or renters insurance cover moving?

Homeowners and renters insurance does not usually cover damages incurred during the moving process. In order to find out for sure, you’ll want to contact your insurance carrier to double-check.

Is transit valuation (or protection) the same as insurance?

No, transit valuation (or protection) is not the same as insurance. Moving companies offer transit valuation to protect your belongings during transit, but it does not always cover their full cost (or market value). Moving insurance can be used to supplement transit valuation and cover the full market value of your stuff.

What protection is usually offered by moving companies?

Most moving companies will offer two types of transit valuation or protection: full replacement value and released value protection. Full replacement value usually comes at an additional cost, while released value protection is generally offered for free. However, released value protection places significantly less liability on the mover for damages.

Can you get moving insurance for a DIY move?

Yes, you can purchase transit (or moving) insurance for a DIY move. Again—your renters or homeowners insurance policy may help you here. Some insurance companies offer “relocation” or “trip transit insurance.”

You can also purchase transit insurance at an additional charge from your rental truck company in some cases. For example, U-Haul offers its own coverage options: Safemove and Safemove Plus. Just remember, these options may not cover:

  • Damage caused by insufficient packing
  • Shifting of belongings in the truck during transit
  • Theft or vandalism

Did we answer all your moving insurance questions? Let us know! And if you need a moving company, take a look at our list of best interstate moving companies.

Additional resources

Want to learn more about all the services moving companies have to offer? Here are some of our best resources to compare full-service moving, moving container, and truck rental companies in the industry:

The 5 Best Moving Companies of 2021

2021’s Best Moving and Storage Container Companies

The 5 Best Moving Truck Rental Companies of 2021

Or maybe you’ve already chosen the company and you need some help preparing for your upcoming move. Here are some related FAQ to help.

5 Ways to Tell if a Moving Company is a Scam

How Do Moving Companies Charge?

How to Perform a Home Inventory

Asha Kennedy
Written by
Asha Kennedy
Asha Kennedy is a researcher and content writer who brings almost 5 years of experience working directly with multiple carriers as a Move Coordinator, including Mayflower, United, and Allied International. During her career, she has successfully partnered with diverse clientele to coordinate Military, International, Interstate and Corporate relocations—and uses this experience to create meaningful and educational content for future movers! Asha graduated from Hampton University with honors in English. Asha enjoys being in nature, reading books, and learning new things.