According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 30 million Americans move each year. Some move across the county, some move a few states over and some move across the country. To make that move, they fill their personal vehicles with boxes, clothes and furniture or they borrow a pickup from a friend. Oftentimes, they enlist the aid of professionals to help move their stuff.
In the process, Americans spend an average of $660 to move themselves, $910 to hire someone to help with loading and unloading, and $2,568 to handle all the labor and driving, per HireAHelper.com. The last thing they want to do is increase those costs by paying to repair or replace damaged furnishings and personal property.
So who’s responsible for the damages? Well, that depends. If you are moving yourself and damage your personal property, it’s highly likely your homeowners or renters insurance will cover the costs for repair or replacement. However, if your belongings are damaged by movers, your homeowners or renters insurance won’t offer the same protection. However, there may be other insurance options to protect your stuff while you move.
Can You Claim Insurance for Damaged Furniture or Other Property During Moving?
When you purchase a homeowners or renters insurance policy, part of that coverage applies to the cost of repairing or replacing the contents of your home if they are damaged. “Most homeowners and renters insurance policies provide coverage for your personal property while belongings are at your home, in transit or housed at a storage facility,” says Scott Holeman, media relations director for the Insurance Information Institute. “If you aren’t sure about your policy, contact your insurance professional before you move to find out what protection your homeowners or renters policy covers.”
It’s possible you may need to purchase some additional optional insurance coverage to your homeowners or renters insurance policy to protect your belongings during a move. “Trip transit insurance covers your personal property for perils including theft, disappearance or fire while the property is either in transit or storage,” Holeman says. “It does not cover property breakage or damage caused by flooding.”
Another add-on possibility is special perils contents coverage, which Holeman says covers breakage for all but the most fragile items. In addition, he says a floater addendum will fully protect valuables such as jewelry, collectibles and fine art. “If you use a storage facility, you may also want to consider a storage coverage,” Holeman says.
How Can You Claim This Insurance?
In the event your personal property is lost or damaged during a move and you need to file a claim with your homeowners or renters insurance company, your first step should be contacting your insurance agent. Holeman also recommends to call your insurance professional, and ask the following questions:
- Am I covered?
- How long do I have to file a claim?
- Will my claim exceed my deductible?
“If your loss is lower than your deductible, you probably won’t want to go through the claims filing process,” Holeman says.
If you plan to file a claim with your homeowners or renters insurance company, don’t put it off. “Promptly fill out claim forms,” Holeman says. “If you establish that you’ll be making a claim, your insurance company will send you the necessary claims forms. By law, these must be sent to you within a specified time period. Return the properly filled out forms as soon as possible in order to avoid delays.”
For damaged property, take pictures of the items to submit with your claim. If you have “before” pictures of those items, send those in as well. These “before” pictures are particularly helpful in the event your property is stolen or lost.
What Other Options Are Available for a Person in Case of Damages During a Move?
If you plan to hire a professional mover, you need to speak with them beforehand to find out what insurance, warranty or guarantee they have in place in the event your belongings are lost, stolen or damaged. “If you use a moving company, they may offer warranty plans that cover replacement value of personal property,” Holeman says. “If you opt for coverage, make sure you fully understand what is covered and the terms. Make sure you get written documentation.”
Also, before the move, document all personal belongings which will be transported for you. Start by making an inventory list of all items; this is easy to do if you make a list going room to room. For instance, take a piece of paper, write “living room” at the top and then list all items in the room you plan to have the movers transport for you. Do this for all rooms in the house, including closets, the garage, basement, attic and any outbuildings. You also should take photos or videos of all belongings in each room.
Once your items are delivered and unloaded at your new residence, inspect each and every piece to make sure you (1) received everything and (2) nothing is damaged. If you have to file a claim with the moving company’s insurance, warranty or guarantee division, you can submit your inventory list, photos and video with the claim as evidence of the missing or damaged items.
The Bottom Line
Packing up your life and moving from one home to another remains a large task for everyone. The last thing you want to deal with is finding out your belongings were damaged, lost or stolen along the way. If that does, in fact, happen, contact your homeowners or renters insurance company or agent right away to find out if repairs or replacement of those items are covered under your policy. If you used the services of a moving company, find out if the company’s insurance, warranty or guarantee will cover the loss.