From water damage to broken china, moving accidents happen, even if you have the best movers. Read on to learn why covering your belongings during a move can be the difference between dealing with the hassle of replacing a broken item and moving worry-free.
Everything you need to know
What is moving insurance?
Moving insurance works basically the same way as auto 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.
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, which we’ll get into later.
Here are the three different options available to you:
- Released value protection
- Offers coverage up to $0.60 per pound for items
- Doesn’t cover full market value
- Comes standard in moving package
- Full-value protection (FVP)
- Gives full coverage on all your inventory
- Repairs broken items
- Replaces broken item with a similar one
- Offers a cash settlement equal to the item’s market value
- Doesn’t cover items of extraordinary value (more than $100 per pound)
- Third-party insurance
- Covers damage from natural disasters (e.g., floods, tornadoes)
- Covers items of extraordinary value (more than $100 per pound)
- Supplements value protection valuation
What is valuation?
Insurance can cover any damage done to 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 on an item.
Different moving companies offer different types of valuation. Below are the two most common forms of valuation.
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 three solutions if they break one of your belongings during a move:
- Repair the item
- Replace the item with a similar one
- Offer a cash settlement equivalent to the broken item’s current market value
Watch for caveats
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.
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 they take. 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 value
- If you packed dangerous or precarious materials without notifying your mover
A key advantage in using moving insurance is that, unlike valuation, it doesn’t have liability limits on damaged items and it covers things like natural disasters.
What is third-party insurance?
Third-party insurance providers handle moving insurances 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 valuation 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, be sure to see if your homeowners or renters insurance policy already covers you.
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 Williams Sonoma plate set, you’re probably better off going with a valuation option.
Does my homeowners policy cover the move?
It’s all case-by-case, but generally speaking, most homeowners insurance policies don’t 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 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 your movers gave you. Knowing this can help you gauge the general cost of a room so you can know what to expect in compensation or replacement costs. For instance, your mahogany, Ron Burgundy-inspired office 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 how much similar items on eBay have sold for to get a rough estimate.
Also, it can be helpful to take photos of your belongings before you begin the move. Then, if you need to file a claim, you’ll have something to compare.
All moving companies offer two different kinds of valuation. Both of them can protect your belongings, but only to a certain extent. If you want straight-up insurance, you’ll have to get it from a third party.
- Released value protection, a.k.a. basic valuation, offers coverage up to $0.60 per pound on items.
- Full-value replacement repairs give full coverage on all your items but doesn’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.
If you’re more concerned about weather-related damage to your belongings, go with third-party insurance. But if you care more about chipping your Anthropologie tea cups, valuation options are going to be your friend—especially full-value replacement.
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.