One of the biggest mistakes we make when we move is to underestimate the insurance coverage offered by most movers. Often we check that the company offers insurance and then assume it will cover us for all eventualities and forget about it. This can cause a lot of problems.
Whilst most moves are smooth and trouble-free, accidents and damage to our property can be a real headache. Insurance cover is therefore a vital part of the moving process. Without it you risk losing or damaging your possessions with no recourse to compensation. You have two ways of ensuring adequate cover – you don’t have to choose one over the other and may opt to utilize both:
- Talk to your current home insurers and ask them if your existing policies cover you during the move. If they do then check if there are any exclusions etc., and, if you don’t have cover for the move in writing, ask if they will provide you with a copy. If your insurer won’t cover you under your existing agreement or you are worried that the cover is inadequate ask if you can pay a premium for special short-term cover.
- Talk to your movers before you agree to move with them. Ask them to explain their insurance cover, limits, exclusions and so on and take care to read any policy documents they provide. You should NEVER choose a moving company that does not offer insurance.
It’s also worthwhile checking to see if your moving company’s policy includes damage to your premises. The majority of movers are experienced and careful but accidents can happen to your homes as they remove and move furniture etc. Most companies will offer cover for this eventuality – do be aware that if a mover does cause damage to your home on the day of a move you will need to tell them about it immediately (or as soon as you notice it). In all moving insurance policies you’ll likely find that there is a specific time-limit for claims. If you discover damage outside of this limit you won’t be able to make a claim. Again, check the terms and conditions for actual regulations on this.
You may come across various types of moving insurance cover. Primary types include:
- No charge for the actual insurance cover as it is included in the moving quote. In this case you may only be able to claim back a percentage of the value of your goods if you experience damage/loss.
- You buy a policy and pay according to the weight of your goods (generally this works by the pound). This type of policy is often limited by depreciated value so you may not get back what you paid for an item but an estimate of current worth. This is often termed ‘like for like’ cover.
- You pay extra to cover value instead of just weight. In this case you may have to declare the value of your insured goods to the insurer/mover.
- You pay for a full value policy, which will give you current market value in the event of problems. This is often termed ‘new for old’. This can be in the form of repair, replacement or a payment.
Some movers will ask you for a ‘guestimate’ of the total value of your goods. Although this is hard to get right, it’s essential to be as close as possible to get the best levels of protection. If you have a lot of really valuable items to move, be prepared to have to produce a list of them, with assessments and perhaps even photos before you can have cover. You’ll find that many movers’ insurance policies are calculated on a percentage of the removal cost rather than on the value of your goods. This may not be enough for your needs and most will recommend you then to pay a premium for extra cover. You need to check the maximum premium that they will allow for one item and also how much of the claim you will lose if you need to claim on the policy.
For many of us the basic insurance policy of our chosen moving company will be enough. We need to pay particular attention, however, if we are planning a long-distance or international move. If you are moving internationally especially it’s essential to have full cover. Your goods may be passing borders and may be subject to custom checks and so on. With these moves you’ll have to factor in increased possibilities of accidents, theft, loss, damage and so on. It makes sense here to go with a moving company that is well experienced in these types of moves for best advice and cover. If your goods may be in storage for periods during your moving process then you also need to check the insurance cover for the storage facilities.
The best way to assess moving insurance policies is to read the small print carefully. Look for exclusions – i.e. clauses that mean that you are not covered by insurance or that will not pay out in certain circumstances. This will give you the clearest idea of the extras you might need, how comprehensive the policy is and the things you might need to look out for. For example, many movers have a ‘pairs’ or ‘set’ clause. This means that if a part of a set of goods is damaged like a dining room chair or a piece of a dinner service the insurers will agree to pay for the damaged item. However they will not pay to replace the whole set if there is no other damage to it even if you cannot find a matching piece. So, if you have a set of four dining room chairs and your movers break one in transit, they’ll pay for a replacement for that chair. However, if you cannot find a replacement that matches your set you’ll no longer have a matching set and they will not pay to replace all four.