By Catherine Powell
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
Having moved a number of times over the years, I know all too well the stress that comes with packing, transporting, and unpacking all of my possessions. If biting your nails to the quick while hoping the movers won't damage keepsakes and furnishings isn't bad enough, worrying that they don't lose anything expensive during the move can give you ulcers. What's even worse is finding out after the fact that your homeowner's insurance doesn't necessarily cover everything that got damaged, lost, or destroyed during a move. If you're considering moving in the not too distant future, here's what you need to know.
While it's true that homeowner's and renter's insurance will in most cases cover property damage and theft of items inside and outside your home, this coverage doesn't automatically extend to breakage caused by movers. If your possessions are stolen from the moving truck, chances are the loss is covered. If a ham-handed mover drops your 80-inch UHD TV, odds are your insurer won't pay for the damage. However, if your belongings are destroyed in a fire while they are being housed in a storage facility, this should be a covered peril, provided the total damage doesn't exceed 10% of your policy's personal property limit. That's right, if you have a $250,000 limit on personal property protection, most policies limit the coverage to $25,000 once the property is outside your home. The exception to the rule is if there is a gap period between the time you switch your insurance from one address to the next. If your move falls in the gap, your homeowner's or renter's policy won't cover your property during the move. (That's why it's always a good idea to touch base with your insurance agent before you move to determine if your coverage is adequate and active throughout the entire process.)
Can you purchase additional coverage when you plan on moving? Absolutely. In fact, both insurers and movers offer optional moving insurance that's designed to pick up where your homeowner's insurance leaves off. Below are some of the available options.
Insurance Company Options:
1. Trip Transit Insurance can be added to an existing policy to cover 100% of damage caused by theft, disappearance, or fire. However, it still won't cover breakage or flood damage.
2. Special Perils Coverage is a rider that kicks in to protect all but extremely fragile items for breakage.
3. A Floater is a rider that's there to cover the loss of high-value property such as jewelry, art objects, collectibles, and china.
Moving Company Options:
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all movers to provide liability and property protection to consumers. However, there are several options available;
1. Released value Coverage is the most basic kind of protection that's offered by moving companies. While this kind of coverage is free, all it will reimburse you for in the case of damage, destruction, or disappearance of your property is sixty cents per pound.
2. Full-Value Protection offers to repair or replace an item with one of a similar value. This option is available for purchase when you contract a mover. While this kind of policy offers coverage based on the current market value of your property, it excludes items worth more than $100 per pound.
What isn't covered by movers are property damage caused by natural disasters, items the movers failed to pack, and damage caused after the fact if you instruct the company to move your belongings to a storage facility they don't own and the damage occurs there. For all these contingencies, you'll need to either obtain a rider from your existing insurer or purchase third-party coverage.
Should you opt for added coverage if you rent a moving truck and do the move yourself? The short answer is yes. That's because your auto insurance won't cover a rental truck. That means if the truck is damaged you could be on the hook to repair or replace it, even if the accident wasn't your fault. (This includes damage by acts of God like fire and storm damage. You could also be hit with charges to recover the rental income the mover lost while the truck was out of commission. Last but not least, supplemental insurance will usually cover your cargo and any passengers in the truck with you. For instance, U-Haul's Safemove Plus policy provides up to $1 million in exclusion-free liability coverage. Spend a little and get a lot.
Are you covered if a non-authorized person drives your rental truck? Probably not. That means if you let anyone but those listed on the supplemental insurance drive the truck and they get in an accident or damage the vehicle, you could wind up on the hook for the damages.
Do you need added insurance if you opt to tow your belongings in a trailer? While most auto policies extend coverage to trailers you own, if you rent a trailer, your policy may or may not cover it, or any damage caused by it. If you're considering renting a trailer, call your agent beforehand.
Do you need to add supplemental insurance if you tow your vehicle to your new home? While the cost of damage done to your vehicle should be a covered peril (unless otherwise noted on your policy), damage caused to or by the trailer is not.
Before you sign on the dotted line for supplemental insurance make sure you read the policy to note exclusions, limits, and deductibles. Additional or supplemental liability insurance covers you for bodily injury and property damage. Limited Damage Waiver is the part that covers damage to the truck or trailer. Since many rental companies demand restitution for any damage upon return of the vehicle, it's a good idea to acquire some manner of coverage prior to renting a truck or trailer.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com