Moving your home or business is stress-inducing, especially if you’re moving long-distance. The last thing you want to worry about when you arrive at your destination is replacing items that were lost or damaged during the relocation process. Moving insurance or contents coverage may sound like a luxury, but it can often save you time, money, and frustration. 

Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover items damaged during a move, so if you have high-value personal items that you cannot transport yourself, moving insurance can give you peace of mind. Read on to find out if moving insurance is necessary, what types are available, and what to expect when you purchase it.

What Is Moving Insurance?

Moving insurance can protect you financially if your items are lost or damaged during a move. While the best moving companies cannot technically sell insurance, they are required by law to provide contents coverage options to their customers based on valuation. These policies operate similarly to most insurance policies. Besides valuation coverage, you can opt for third-party moving insurance from an insurance company that offers additional coverage.

Depending on the level of coverage you choose, you will pay your mover or insurance company to cover your items up to a certain amount. If anything is lost, damaged, or stolen during the moving process, you can submit a claim to your mover or insurance company and receive compensation based on the terms of your coverage.

Types of Moving Insurance If You Hire Movers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires moving companies to provide two types of valuation coverage: full-value protection and released-value protection.  You can also purchase additional protection from a third-party insurance company to increase your coverage. Below, we explain how each coverage type works.

Full-Value Protection

Full-value protection is based on the stated monetary value of your moving shipment. Moving companies may determine this value by multiplying your shipment’s total weight by $6. You can also provide a complete inventory of your items with their approximate market values and agree on a total value with your moving company.

With full-value protection, your mover can repair your item, replace it with an item of comparable value, or provide you with the funds to repair or replace it. One limitation of this coverage is that it does not require movers to assume liability for “items of extraordinary value,” which are items that cost more than $100 per pound. You must identify all items of extraordinary value in your moving shipment and provide the list in writing to your mover.

Typically, full-value protection will cost around 1% of your total shipment value. This protection will automatically be included in your moving quote unless you opt out.

Released-Value Protection

Released-value protection is based on the weight of your belongings and is provided free of charge by your moving company, even if you don’t request it. Released-value protection provides a maximum of 60 cents per pound per damaged article. This means if a vase weighing 4 pounds is broken by movers during your move, you’ll receive a maximum of $2.40 for the damaged item, regardless of its actual value.

Because released-value protection is so limited in its coverage, especially for lightweight but high-value items, such as electronics, moving companies require you to sign a waiver acknowledging your decision to forgo full-value protection. If you opt for third-party moving insurance but deny full-value coverage, you will still receive the 60 cents per pound per damaged item offered by released-value protection in addition to any compensation you receive from your insurance provider.

Separate Liability Coverage

You can purchase additional insurance coverage for your move from a third-party insurance provider. Some movers provide third-party insurance options when you book a move with them, but you can also obtain it from an insurance provider with which you already hold another policy. 

This is the most expensive option, costing up to 5% of your moving shipment, but it provides the most protection and offers the most generous coverage limits. Third-party coverage may also cover items of extraordinary value that aren’t covered under full-value protection, such as jewelry, antiques, artwork, and expensive clothing. You can purchase separate liability insurance in addition to full-valuation contents coverage.

Moving Insurance Coverage Exclusions

Complimentary released-value protection provides the least amount of coverage, but both full-value protection and a separate liability policy also have exclusions. The following are common policy exclusions:

  • Damage caused by natural disasters or acts of God, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornadoes 
  • Damage caused by improper packing or handling by the individual moving
  • Damage to hazardous or perishable items
  • Damage to high-value items you did not inform your movers of

Types of Moving Insurance If You Move Yourself

If you elect not to hire a moving company, there are a few coverage options available.

Homeowners or Renters Insurance

Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover items that are lost or damaged while moving. Still, each policy is different and there are exceptions, so check with your insurance company to verify and, if necessary, purchase additional coverage. Some common exclusions of home and renters insurance policies are the following:

  • Items damaged due to improper packing
  • Items damaged by natural disasters
  • Hazardous items

Relocation or Trip Transit Insurance

Relocation or trip transit insurance can offer belongings coverage to DIY movers. Trip transit insurance protects property in transit against specific perils, such as theft and fire. It only covers a singular shipment, as opposed to transit insurance, which covers all shipments within a specified policy term. Trip transit insurance has exclusions, which may include the following:

  • Damage due to insufficiently packed items
  • Damage to the vehicle used to move items
  • Damage caused by natural disasters

Rental Truck Moving Coverage

Rental truck moving coverage is designed to protect DIY movers when they rent a vehicle to move their belongings. This type of coverage is often offered as an add-on to moving truck rental agreements. You can also purchase it from a third-party provider. Some possible exclusions of this type of policy include the following:

  • Damage caused by excessive speed
  • Damage caused by improper loading or unloading
  • Theft of cargo

How Much Does Moving Insurance Cost?

The cost of moving insurance depends on your belongings’ total value and the coverage you select. The more coverage you have, the higher the cost of your policy. 

Federal law requires that moving companies provide released value protection for all interstate moves at no charge. Full-value protection typically costs around 1% of the total value of your belongings, and third-party insurance policies usually cost anywhere from 1% to 5% of the total value. Using these figures, full-value coverage for items valued at $3,500 would cost around $35, while a third-party policy could cost as much as $175.

Our Conclusion

Moving insurance can bring you peace of mind when your personal belongings are out of your control. While full-value contents coverage offers some protection to interstate movers, a third-party insurance policy can supplement this coverage. DIY movers can opt for trip transit insurance should anything go wrong during their move, such as a vehicle fire or robbery.

The decision comes down to the probability of damage while your goods are in transit and your ability to replace damaged items on your own accord. For an interstate move of a large home with high-value items, the risk is higher that costly items will be damaged. A solo DIY move across town—especially with inexpensive belongings—doesn’t present the same risk, so moving insurance may not be necessary in this case.

Consider the size and distance of your move, the value of your items, and the risk of damage or theft when deciding if you need moving insurance. Check with your home or renters insurance provider to see if it can offer coverage or assist you in obtaining a separate policy.

FAQs About Moving Insurance

Our Rating Methodology

The This Old House Reviews Team backs up our moving company ratings and recommendations with a detailed rating methodology to objectively score each company. We conduct research by reading through the company websites, analyzing customer reviews, conducting consumer surveys, requesting quotes, and speaking with customer representatives. We then score each moving company against our review standards for services, contents coverage, scheduling, trailer and container options, additional benefits, and reputation to arrive at a final score out of 100.

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