Moving Insurance: Does Homeowners Insurance Protect You?
This summer, thousands of Americans will pull up their roots and make a fresh start in a new home in another city. Although many people try to ensure that their valuables arrive safely, accidents and incidents often happen. Some United States residents may damage things during do-it-yourself moves. Others may hire professional moving companies that accidentally break an expensive item.
It's essential to have the right insurance policy to protect yourself so you can replace your broken valuables when the unexpected occurs. We'll tell you which moving insurance policy you'll need to protect yourself during your upcoming move.
Homeowners or Renters Insurance May Cover Damages during Personal Moves
Homeowners and renters insurance policies don't cover any damages caused by professional movers, including the packing and transporting of your belongings. The moving insurance professional movers offers the basic liability coverage you will need if you hire a moving company.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners and renters policies usually cover your personal belongings while they are at your residence. However, homeowners and renters policies also provide some moving insurance coverage for your valuables while they're in transit or being housed in a storage facility.
It's best to contact your insurance provider before you transport your things to your new residence and ask them if your homeowners or renters insurance will cover damages to your belongings during a move.
Truck Rental Insurance
Are you reserving a truck from a rental company for your move? Truck rental companies offer optional collision damage waiver coverage. Your auto policy's comprehensive and collision insurance coverages generally don't transfer to commercial trucks.
Coverages found in moving insurance policies include:
A damage waiver for accident-related damages to the truck
Supplemental liability coverage if you cause damages in an accident
Insurance for cargo protection
Medical and life insurance for the driver and passengers
Insurance for towing parts on your truck
Your credit card may or may not provide coverage for a truck rental, so call your credit card company before you make any insurance decisions.
Additional Moving Insurance Coverages
If you're relocating to a new area, you'll want to make sure you have the right moving insurance coverages to protect yourself and your household items. Here are different types of insurance options recommended by the Insurance Information Institute.
Relocation or Trip Transit Insurance
These coverage options pay for valuables that are lost, damaged, or stolen during transit. They will also cover household goods placed in storage. Homeowners and renters policies generally provide this coverage for do-it-yourself moves.
Third-party moving insurance policies may provide coverages that professional moving companies do not. You can request trip transit insurance from their business to cover the full value of your property. It can also serve as excess coverage above the one offered by the moving company. It doesn't pay for items damaged during natural disasters (such as floods) at storage facilities.
Special Perils Contents Insurance Coverage
This moving insurance policy is known as the "all risks" insurance coverage. It's the moving insurance coverage that pays for broken items, except fragile ones.
A floater is a type of insurance policy that covers items that are easily movable. It provides additional coverage that normal insurance policies do not. These policy options protect high-value items, such as fine art, collectibles, jewelry, and china.
Car insurance verification
Are you shipping a vehicle to your new home? Car insurance verification is a type of coverage that will protect your vehicle. Ask the company that's managing the auto shipment for their insurance certificate.
The law requires shipping companies to provide their moving insurance details and additional documentation about coverage. Next, call your insurer to find out if your policy provides coverage for your car when it's transported. Also, find out if you must provide them with any paperwork verifying this shipment. Make sure to get all quotes in writing.
Customers' Bill of Rights during the Moving Process
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates moving companies and the coverage they provide. Their statutes define consumers' rights and movers' responsibilities. This organization requires professional movers to list valuations in their estimates and Bills of Lading (contracts). As a customer, you have several responsibilities to yourself and your moving company. These include:
Making sure to read all moving documents and valuation quotes provided by the movers or brokers.
Being available at the time of the pickup and delivery of your load. If you can't be there, someone should be there to represent you and act on your behalf.
Notifying the mover quickly if something has changed about your shipment (such as the move dates or additional items).
Making the payment your professional mover requires and reading the forms agreed to by the business.
Immediately filing claims for any delayed, lost, damaged or stolen valuables.
Which Insurance Covers Damages Caused by Professional Moving Companies?
Moving insurance is value coverage that can only be purchased through professional relocation companies. These businesses generally don't offer these policies directly because they aren't licensed to sell them by the insurance industry. Most movers provide valuation coverage to their clients or released value protection. It is a basic limited liability that their companies are responsible for should they ruin, lose, or mishandle your things.
How Long Does Moving Insurance Last?
Moving insurance policies generally last 90 days (three months) if you keep your belongings in storage at a mover's warehouse. Movers allow clients to buy extensions if they must store their items for a longer time. These plans won't cover your things if you place them in self-storage but your renter or homeowner policy may.
Reviewing a Moving Insurance Estimate
There are several areas you should consider when reviewing your estimate and final moving contract. The first section is your estimate type selection. This part determines how professional moving companies calculate charges for your shipment. Next, examine the liability coverages they offer. There should be three coverage options:
Option 1 – Full replacement value protection
Option 2 – Waiver of full value protection
Option 3 – Third-party carrier insurance
When approving an estimate, never sign an incomplete or empty one.
1. Option One: Full Replacement Value Protection Coverage
The federal government requires movers to provide full replacement value protection as default coverage to clients. According to the FMCSA, this coverage is the most comprehensive one available. By law, your movers must include this level of protection in their initial estimate of charges. Your shipment will receive this level of liability unless you decide to waive Full Value Protection.
This default coverage costs about one percent of the worth of your belongings and property. It will pay for any belongings that are lost, destroyed or damaged by movers. For example, if you have household products worth $50,000, you would purchase full value protection coverage worth $500. By law, the moving company determines how they'll make amends under this policy, not the customers.
2. Option Two: Waiver of Full (Replacement) Value Protection Coverage
The second valuation option available to clients is a Waiver of Full (Replacement) Value Protection. The federal government has mandated this protection, also called Released Value Protection or Basic Liability Coverage. Released Value protection provides customers with minimal coverage, however, it is the most economical protection available at no charge.
The second option doesn't pay market value for your goods. Instead, moving companies assume liability coverage for your furniture, household products, and property at 60 cents per pound. Unfortunately, Released Value doesn't provide much coverage to clients. For instance, if your mover damages your 400-pound living room sofa worth $2,000, you may only receive $240 ($0.60 x 400 pounds) in compensation. You should consider this option carefully before signing an agreement.
3. Option Three: Separate Liability Insurance Coverage
This coverage is a third-party cargo liability insurance that you can purchase through your moving company. The professional movers must issue a written record of the purchase. Additionally, the business must provide you with a copy of the policy (or documentation) once you buy it. If your moving company doesn't comply with this provision, they are liable for all claims for losses and damages attributed to their negligence.
According to the FMCSA, shipments transported under the mover's bill of lading are subject to an arbitration process when there is a dispute over damaged items or losses. This situation doesn't apply to third-party insurance companies.
Since the FMCSA doesn't regulate these insurers, these businesses don't abide by the arbitration process. Third-party insurance companies must follow the regulations of local states where they operate.
What's Not Covered Under Most Moving Insurance Policies?
There are some things that a standard mover's liability coverage will not cover. Under these circumstances, you may need to purchase additional moving insurance. They include:
Not notifying your mover if you have high-value items
Packing hazardous, perishable, explosive or other dangerous items without notifying your mover.
Packing your own items to avoid paying a professional mover. The moving insurance may not cover these items because you didn't sufficiently protect your items.
Damage from tornados, floods and other natural disasters
Check state ordinances to learn about their moving insurance laws to learn what companies are responsible for covering.
Get Storage Unit Insurance if You Need to Keep Your Valuables at a Facility
Sometimes, people can't move into their new home, because the previous owners haven't left, or their place isn't available yet. When this happens, they may need to place their valuables into temporary storage.
Unfortunately, no storage facility is 100 percent safe. Thieves can break into units and steal personal items. Events, such as floods or fires, can damage your things. Standard homeowners and renters policies will cover a percentage of the value of your possessions in storage units.
The amount they cover varies, but it's usually 10 percent of your property liability limits. For instance, what if your personal property amounts to $90,000 on your Homeowners or Renters insurance policy?
Your insurer will only cover up to $9,000 of your valuables. If this amount isn't enough to cover the value of your household items in your locker, then consider getting additional coverage from the storage company at $20 a month for $10,000 of coverage.
Acts that May Reduce Your Mover's Liability
Several scenarios can limit or reduce your mover's liability for losses for damages to your household valuables. They include the following situations:
Intentional Acts or Omissions
Your intentional acts or omissions cause damage or losses of your items. For instance, you could self-pack your things and forget to neglect to provide enough protection. In another scenario, you may include hazardous materials in a shipment and fail to alert their business. Federal law prohibits the transportation of dangerous, boxed materials without mentioning it to the moving company.
Signing a Waiver
You chose the Waiver of Full Value Protection option. The Released Value Liability Level offers only 60 cents of coverage per pound per article, yet, instead, you ship household products that cost more than the stated amount.
You declare a shipment value that is less than the actual one of your shipped articles.
Or, you didn't provide written notification to their business insurance office about things that cost more than $100 per pound. Note: if told by the relocation company about these things, you're entitled to recover the full amount up to the declared value of the articles.
Third-Party Moving Businesses that Provide Moving Insurance
Here are some third-party companies that provide moving insurance to their customers.
MovingInsurance.com - This business is licensed to sell insurance in the United States. Its moving insurance packages include movement for local, intrastate, interstate and international moves. This company provides coverage for household goods, storage of things in transit, and other items. It also handles commercial moves.
Baker International - This moving insurance company was founded in 1981. Baker international offers relocation coverage, even outside of the country.
Taking Steps to Protect Yourself Before You Move
Although most companies are diligent about getting valuables safely in their final location, unexpected events can and usually happen when moving valuables. A worker can accidentally drop an expensive item. Other employees can forget to pack something or leave it behind.
Thieves can also target some items when movers place loads into trucks. You have the right to file a claim to be compensated for any loss or damaged things. Customers have nine months from the date of delivery (or in the event of loss for the entire shipment) to file their insurance claim.
Filing a Claim with the Moving Insurance Company
The date should be included on your receipt. You must submit your insurance claims in writing to the moving company or their third-party insurance company for processing. Once you apply, the mover has 30 days to acknowledge that they received it.
According to the FMCSA, the moving business has 120 days to provide you with a disposition. They can ask for a 60-day extension if they can't process (or dispose of) your claim in time. Some insurance companies may dispute your claims of damage. Before you move, you should take every step to protect yourself before moving day occurs.
1. Document Your Valuables with Time-Stamped Photos
Taking pictures is a great way to document the condition of your goods before you move. It only takes a couple of hours to do this, and it is well worth the investment. Before you move, go through each room in your house and snap clear, high-quality pictures of all of your valuables.
You don't need fancy equipment: you can use your cellphone or a camera, but make sure the photo's pixel depth is 300 dpi or higher. Each one should also have timestamps indicating when you photographed it. You can save these photos to a portable drive, but it may be better to save the pictures on the Internet.
You can upload these photos to a Cloud service provided by your cellphone carrier. Other free options include online pinboards, like Pinterest, or an internet storage area like Google's Drive. After the move, you should take another set of time-stamped pictures of any items.
Once you finish uploading your photos, you can organize them. Make separate folders for different rooms, then place the corresponding pictures sets into each one. Rename the files using simple, descriptive labels to identify them. You can even add a text file containing the names of every item and its condition. If possible, also take pictures of corresponding receipts for every item as proof of purchase.
Although it will take time to document your valuables, your hard work will pay off enormous benefits. If your belongings suffer any damage, you'll have evidence. It will provide proof to claims adjusters and streamline the insurance claims process. You'll only need to present these pictures and supporting documents when you file your insurance policy claim.
2. Check Your Belongings for Any Damage After You Move In
Have you settled into your new home in another city or state? First, carefully inspect your valuables for any damage to ensure they didn't suffer damage during the moving process. For example, find out if your fragile objects, such as vases, mirrors, and dishes, are safe. Also, check your digital things for any signs of damages. Plugin your computers and tablets to see if they still work.
Additionally, search your home for any issues after the move, such as scratches and chips on door frames, trimmings, and furniture. Complete this process as soon as possible.
Most insurance policies have a limited time frame when people can submit claims. If you wait too long, you could lose your opportunity to file.
3. Search Through Your Boxes for Missing Items Before Submitting an Insurance Claim
While unpacking, you may discover a few items aren't where you expected. You may believe that your items are missing, and may want to file an insurance claim to replace the item. Before submitting a policy claim, make sure you thoroughly search every box to ensure that your item is not already there.
It could be in the wrong room or within a mislabeled box. If your belongings are still not there, you can call your landlord, former neighbors, or local real estate agent to check whether the missing item is at your old place. You can also ask the mover to track your missing items. This process can take a day or two. If they still can't locate it, file a claim.
4. Submit a Claim as Soon as Possible After You Move
If your items are lost, broken, or damaged during a move, you should file a claim with the moving company or third-party insurers. Most companies have a limited timeframe for customers to submit their insurance claims paperwork, so don't delay.
Better Homeowners Insurance, Better Value Coverage
Are you handling a do-it-yourself move soon? Do you need a terrific homeowners or renters insurance policy that will protect your valuables if they are damaged? You can trust SmartFinancial to find the best protection at the lowest prices.
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