does homeowners insurance cover moving?

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It feels great to get rid of excess stuff, unpack in a new place, and at the end of it all pop some of that leftover bubble wrap. But moving day itself is considerably less fun. Even less fun is having something lost or broken in the process.

moving and homeowners insurance

Moving from one house to another ranks right up there in terms of stressful life events. When you're juggling so many moving parts (literally), it's easy to forget some key essentials — like verifying the protection offered by your home insurance policy.

As far as the moving process itself goes, the belongings normally covered by your homeowners insurance aren't necessarily protected while they're between homes.

While homeowners insurance does cover your personal property (up to your selected limit), that's only for the risks included in your policy — it's unlikely your policy will account for a friend or professional mover dropping your piano on the curb and chipping its legs.

Before any major move it's a good idea to speak with your insurer, not only to check whether items in transit will have any protection during the long (or short) haul, but also to update your policy to include your new residence. If you're a policyholder at Esurance, count on our agents to answer any of your home insurance queries.

coverage through a professional mover

If you find you do need to get separate coverage for your move, you might consider buying specialized coverage through your moving company.

By law, all professional movers are required to provide 2 types of liability coverage, also known as valuation coverage (referring to the monetary value of the belongings being moved). When you get coverage through a mover, you're not getting a policy but a bill of lading, which is a receipt for your goods and their services. You can choose either of the following two options.

Released Value

Movers are required to offer this protection, though it's minimal coverage: They assume liability by weight, not cost — for only up to 60 cents per pound per item. That kind of coverage might be fine for inexpensive items, but probably not your 55" TV.

Protection under Released Value is free; you just need to sign a contract agreeing to it. But if you don't specifically select Released Value, your mover will use Full Value Protection by default and you'll be charged for that coverage instead.

Full Value Protection

If something is damaged or broken under Full Value Protection, your mover has to repair it, replace it with a similar item, or make a cash settlement that covers either its repair or the current market replacement value of the item. Most people choose this coverage.

Keep in mind, if a mover breaks a very expensive antique, they're not required to contribute to its repair or replacement unless you document it as an extraordinary valuable beforehand. It's a good idea to document items worth over $100 per pound (like jewelry or china). Unless all relevant items are listed, your mover's liability for items worth over $100 per pound will be limited to $100 per pound (based on the item's weight), and if damaged or broken, your mover won't pay more than the total value of all of the belongings being moved.

The cost of Full Value Protection varies by mover. It's a good idea to pinpoint what's covered and what it'll cost you before the move.

limited liability

Your mover's coverage protects you up to a point, but there are exceptions to what they will cover and a limit to their liability when it comes to certain belongings. Some of the following aren't likely to be covered by your mover, regardless of the type of moving insurance you choose (even if you document it as an extraordinary value):

  • Boxes you packed yourself: Though lots of people pack their own boxes to save money and time, movers aren't liable for boxes they didn't pack.
  • Hazardous materials: Things like paint thinner, gasoline, or other dangerous chemicals aren't likely to be covered.
  • Pieces of furniture based on material: If your bed frame is made of pressed wood or particleboard, any damages might not be covered.
  • Open boxes: Most moving companies will refuse to move any open boxes. Companies that will move them may not cover the contents if they're damaged during transit.
  • The wiring of electronics: This means the inside of your TV, stereo, laptop, and the inner workings of other electronic equipment.
  • Musical instruments: Whether it's a fancy guitar or hand-me-down high school brass, your mover may not cover it.

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