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What is Moving Insurance?

Woman's hand showing to the black leather sofa damaged corner. Problem concept.
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Moving insurance is a way to protect your personal belongings during a move. By federal law, at minimum, interstate moving companies are required to provide valuation coverage on your items for 60 cents per pound per item. This is called released value protection. Most moving companies will offer full value protection at a higher cost, which covers the current value of the item.

It is important to note that valuation coverage is not the same as a moving insurance plan. In short, valuation coverage protects the value of your items in case of damage or loss. Valuation is the perceived value of an item, more specifically meaning, its replacement value.  

A moving insurance plan is typically offered by a third party and covers events that are outside of a mover’s control, such as fires and natural disasters. The cost of the moving insurance plan is purchased separately by you.

Types of valuation coverage

Federal law requires interstate moving companies to offer two types of valuation coverage: released value protection and full value protection. 

Released value coverage:

Released value coverage is free and requires movers to reimburse you for a percentage of your belongings if they are damaged or lost. While this is the most economical choice, the moving company is only liable for 60 cents per pound per item

So as an example, if your expensive laptop that costs $1,100 but only weighs 3 pounds gets ruined, you’ll only receive $1.80 for it – not a great deal.

How much does released value coverage cost?

Released value coverage is a free component of most moving companies’ pricing quotes. As it’s a requirement by the U.S. Department of Transportation, released value coverage is not regulated by state insurance laws.

Full value protection:

Full value protection must be offered by interstate movers, and it often costs extra. It ensures that, if your item is ruined in transit, the company must refund you based on the current value of the property. This is better than the released value, but you may not get a figure that you deem fair, depending on how the company determines the current value.

According to the national moving company Mayflower, the full value protection standard amount is calculated by multiplying your estimated shipment weight by $6 per pound. So for example, if the weight of your shipment is 6,800 pounds, your “valuation” would be $40,800. You can increase the valuation from this standard rate before the truck leaves, too. Again, it’s all about your comfort level.

If you opt for full value protection, you’ll have to complete an inventory of all items valued at $100 or more per pound. That favorite piece of art you had appraised for $2,000, your high-end jewelry, clothing, or antique furniture — all of these would be listed on your high-value inventory.

How much does full value protection cost?

The short answer is: It depends on the moving company. Some moving companies roll the full value protection cost into every quote. The exact cost of protection, though, varies by the moving company and may be subject to deductible liability levels that could reduce the cost. 

Regardless, always ask your moving company for written details of their plan to ensure you understand the full coverage plan and any deductibles details that you need to be aware of.

Keep in mind that both full value protection and released value are not governed by state insurance laws, rather they are federal contractual tariff levels of liability authorized under the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Third-party moving insurance 

If you have a lot on the line, you may want to get separate, third-party moving insurance, also known as relocation insurance. This will supplement the coverage mandated by the moving company, and it will also cover items you move yourself. 

If you only have coverage through your moving truck, anything that gets stolen out of your own car would have to go through your auto insurance.

How much does relocation insurance cost?

Relocation insurance is typically priced at 1% to 2% of the value of all items being covered. In some cases, your movers will be able to offer an extended insurance plan that costs about the same.

How to file a movers damage claim

If you notice any loss or damage to an item, you’ll want to file a written claim directly with your moving company. Any Loss or damage to an item should be noted on your bill of lading – an itemized list of each item moved by the movers and the conditions each item arrived in. You should also take pictures of the damage for further evidence, which will help you when you file your claim.

Note: If you haven’t moved yet, consider taking pictures of all your items before moving day. Being able to show the condition of an item before it was damaged can provide you with extra evidence to support your claim if you ever need to file one.

Contact your moving company and request their official claim paperwork. List out any lost or damaged items on the paperwork and keep pictures of the damage with this paperwork as well. Once you’ve submitted your claim, your movers will begin their claims process. 

Do I need moving insurance?

No, you do not necessarily need moving insurance. However, it is highly recommended by most moving companies. Like most things, the answer to this question lies within your level of comfort with risk.  Let’s say, for example, that you’ve made it to your new home, and you’re sitting on the front porch waiting for the movers to arrive. When they do, your boxes are soaking wet because the truck had a hole in its roof and drove straight through a rainstorm. Or, maybe your favorite dishes arrive in shambles. Either way, realizing you have to replace your belongings comes as a hard blow.

Will homeowners insurance cover my move?

Think you’re all set because you have homeowners’ insurance? Not necessarily. Unfortunately, many policies won’t pay out a claim for an item that was damaged while in transit. If you’re moving locally and maintaining the same plan, you may be in luck. But to be safe, always assume that your homeowner or renter’s insurance plan will not cover items in a move unless they explicitly say they will in writing.

The bottom line

Moving is stressful enough, and losing something you care about in the process can make it worse. Interstate movers are required to cover your belongings to some degree. If you’d like more coverage, that’s always an option too. Remember, if your selected mover does not provide you with coverage information, ask for it — movers are required to provide an easy-to-read summary.

Before purchasing insurance, check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if you’re already covered. Evaluate your movers’ coverage and consider extending that if you can afford it. After all, it’s a lot cheaper than replacing everything on your own.

Frequently asked questions

Should I purchase moving insurance?

It is highly recommended by most moving companies. If you’re opting into a professional moving truck company’s services, a certain level of protection will come with the quote. This typically does not cover the full value of your items without more coverage. Relocation insurance can then be another layer of protection if it makes you feel more comfortable. Read up about valuation and insurance from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Does Geico offer moving insurance?

According to Geico, your homeowners or renters insurance policy may cover your belongings in transit. Before you assume you’re covered, It’s always best to call and check.

Does my insurance cover moving trucks?

Unfortunately, many policies won’t pay out a claim for an item that was damaged while in transit. Call your insurance provider to check before you add insurance to the movers’ estimate.

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