Renters insurance will not cover any personal property damaged while under the care of movers. It's a highly recommend insurance with comprehensive coverage, but even belongings a policyholder moves on their own might not be covered by their policy. Fortunately, there are a number of insurance solutions for moves. The average person in the U.S. moves 11 times in their lifetime and should strongly consider insuring their property by some means detailed below.
Insurance Offered By Moving Companies
When you hire a moving company, the company is liable for your possessions from the moment they begin packaging or handling belongings until those items arrive at their final destination. Since even the best renters insurance won't be covering items during that period, moving companies offer two types of liability options. Out of the two choices, renters should strongly consider full value protection over released value.
Full value protection: Under a full value protection agreement (and at an additional cost to whoever hired the movers) a moving company is liable for the replacement cost of any lost, damaged or stolen property. It’s the more comprehensive of the two coverages offered. The replacement cost will cover to repair broken items, replace them with similar items, or offer a cash settlement for an item at it’s current market value.
The only caveat to full value protection is that moving companies limit their liability for losses or damages. Some items are explicitly listed as excluded but, typically, any item worth more than $100 per pound (such as jewelry, precious stones, fine silverware and plateware, furs, or antiques) are also excluded.
Released value protection: Unlike full value protection, released value protection is generally the coverage offered free of charge by moving companies. It is far less comprehensive (which is why it costs little or nothing when you hire movers. Released value protection usually only covers 60 cents per pound, per item the moving company is liable for.
For example, if a moving company were to ruin your couch, they would pay you 60 cents for every pound the couch weighed, regardless of the market value of the couch, and up to a claim limit. Furniture and other belongings are one thing, but some valuables are relatively light so the payout from the movers would be well short of what they are worth. Imagine you bought a new 15-pound television for $5,000 and it was only covered by released value protection -- if the moving company broke it, they would only give you $9.
Full value and released value protection agreements insure someone against financial losses caused by the mover they hire, but they are not technically insurance policies. The agreements are tariffs of liability authorized by the U.S. Department of Transportation and are not governed or regulated by state insurance laws.
Covering High-Value Belongings
Every renter who hires a moving company should strongly consider purchasing full value protection, but the coverage has caveats when it comes to high-value items. This is similar to how renters insurance works - any expensive or special valuables are subject to different considerations. Some valuables, such as jewelry or furs, might be explicitly excluded from coverage. All others commonly have a claim limit up to $100 per pound, per item.
This is the general circumstance when you hire professional movers but not all companies might have the same agreements. Make sure you fully understand what is covered or excluded by an agreement and that all covered items handled by the company don’t exceed the claim limit to replace them. For example, consider a renter who owns an expensive art collection. They might trust a traditional moving company to handle most of their belongings, but decided to move their art collection themselves or hire another company specifically to move their art.
For those who have many high-valued or especially fragile belongings (such as an art collection), there are specialty moving companies that might offer different full value protection agreements. Those agreements might include a higher claim limit per item, a specialty contract or agreement, or possibly a requirement that the person hiring the service purchases a third-party moving insurance policy.
Another option, for owners of a small number of valuables, is to transport those possessions themselves. For example, a renter might choose to have a moving company transport their furniture, appliances, and boxes of clothes, but want to keep their jewelry in their possession while they move. Although, for many individuals with expensive belongings, this won’t be possible. A renter likely does not have the capacity to move something such as an expensive piano on their own and that isn’t something you should probably trust with a standard moving company.
Third-Party Moving Insurance Policies
Renters who choose released value liability coverage by their moving company might be offered to purchased a third-party moving insurance policy. Unlike the value agreements, third-party policies are insurance products regulated by each individual state in the U.S. Typically, if anything is broken or damaged, the moving company must pay the released value of the damaged or lost property and the third-party insurer would cover the remaining expenses.
In some cases, a homeowners insurance policy might include coverage for moving (effectively acting as a third-party insurer against moving damages or losses), or a policyholder can purchase a rider or endorsement for the move.
Again, every moving company can be different from the others. It’s important to know for certain what items are covered, excluded, and whether a third-party policy is something to consider.
How Much Does Third-Party Moving Insurance Cost?
For renters of apartments and single-family homes, and homeowners alike, the cost of third-party moving insurance is dependent on a number of factors, including the amount of coverage needed, the policy’s deductible, what is being moved and how far items are traveling. For some context, to insure $25,000 in personal property traveling cross-country might cost anywhere between $200 and $1,000. Keep in mind that renters insurance is relatively affordable and it doesn't make sense to protect your belongings in your home then allow them to be susceptible to harm without insurance while moving.