What Is Moving Insurance, and Why Do You Need It?

A broken plate or two during your move is probably not a huge deal, but what if your sofa gets a giant gash? Here’s how moving insurance can protect you.

Written by Nick Fiorellini / January 3, 2022

Quick Bites

  • Moving insurance specifically protects your belongings during your move, but how much coverage you get depends on the type of insurance you buy.
  • Most people get coverage from the moving company they are using, but there are also third-party insurers that offer moving insurance.
  • Coverage is typically based on the weight of your property.
  • The free, basic coverage movers offer is pretty meager—just 60 cents per pound.

Moving is hard and stressful—but people do it a lot. The average American moves 11.7 times in their lifetime, according to estimates from the United States Census Bureau.[1]

That adds up to plenty of times when things can go wrong and your possessions can become lost, stolen or damaged. The good news: If you have moving insurance, you might get help paying for the cost of replacing or repairing your lost or damaged belongings. Here is what you need to know.

Inside this article

  1. What is moving insurance?
  2. Types of moving insurance
  3. What’s not covered?
  4. What about homeowners insurance?
  5. Third-party moving insurance
  6. How do I file a claim?

What is moving insurance?

Moving insurance protects your belongings during a move. However, technically, unless you buy coverage from a third party (more on this below), most moving insurance isn’t actually insurance. 

That’s because it’s offered by moving companies themselves, which aren’t certified to sell insurance. Instead, they sell what is called a valuation, which functions like insurance, with the moving company ensuring compensation for your belongings in case of loss or damage. This type of coverage is also called movers insurance and house moving insurance.

Movers are only required by federal law to offer moving insurance to their customers moving to a different state—not locally or within the same state.[2] However, different states have different laws (and some movers might offer moving insurance regardless of where a customer is moving to), so it might still be possible to buy coverage if you’re moving within the same state you currently reside in.

While there are different types of moving insurance you can buy, each plan guarantees a certain amount of coverage and payout for your belongings if they are lost or damaged during transportation as you move.

Types of moving insurance

There are three types of moving insurance policies movers offer their customers, and the first two listed below are required by federal law. 

Depending on the company, there may be a minimum amount of insurance you must buy in order to purchase a specific policy. Most moving companies also only guarantee payout up to a certain amount.

Released Value Protection Policy

Also known as basic carrier liability, this is the most basic coverage moving companies are required to offer by law and is available for everyone. This liability coverage is based on weight and is typically free. 

People paying for this plan should expect a payout of up to 60 cents per pound, although that number can be higher. So, buyer beware: This means the coverage is not the most extensive.

Tip: If your $1,000 Macbook Air, which weighs 2.8 pounds, is lost or damaged during a move, you will only receive a payout of up to $1.68.

Full Value Protection

Also known as upgraded moving insurance, this option protects your belongings at their full value and is the most comprehensive plan a moving company will offer its customers. 

However, you will have to pay to get it. While there may be some limitations, selecting this coverage will mean your moving company is liable for the full replacement value of the goods it is transporting. You declare what your goods are worth, per pound, and then pay a premium for that amount of coverage. 

The price will vary between companies and will also be affected by how much of a deductible you are willing to have (usually in $250, $500 and $1,000 increments).

Separate Liability Insurance

Not every mover will offer separate liability insurance. This coverage pays for the insurance amount purchased minus the basic carrier liability amount that the movers pay (which is up to 60 cents per pound). 

If you get separate liability insurance, be sure you understand the amount of insurance you will be covered for and the costs, and make a copy of the policy.

What’s not covered?

Moving insurance doesn’t cover everything, and what isn’t covered may vary between providers. 

In general, any damage outside the moving company’s control, including flash floods, earthquakes and other bad weather is not covered. Your moving company may also limit the amount of liability they can take on for any reason, the most common being:

  • If you packaged your belongings for transportation instead of the movers.

  • If you did not report any loss of or damage to your belongings within a reasonable time frame, as determined by the moving company.

  • If you did not specify items of extraordinary value in writing in advance of a move.

  • If you packaged dangerous items without disclosing it to the moving company.

Will my homeowners insurance cover my move?

Your homeowners or auto insurance policy offers limited coverage when you transport items in your personal or rental vehicle, so most likely not. That means if you don’t have moving insurance, you assume the risk if you transport your belongings and do the move yourself. 

The one exception to this is if you rent a truck. Truck rental companies offer their own insurance that protects the rental vehicle, driver, and any passengers and cargo, depending on the type of coverage you buy.

What is third-party moving insurance?

Third-party moving insurance is supplemental coverage you can buy in addition to the value protection you buy from a mover. This plan is an actual form of liability insurance from a third-party insurance provider. With this coverage, your moving company will still compensate you for up to 60 cents per pound of damaged property and then the insurer will make up the difference up to the limit of your policy for the cost of replacing or repairing lost and damaged property.

The cost of third-party moving insurance varies based on the amount of property you are transporting and how far you plan to move. Often, companies will weigh your property and charge a fee of $1.25 per pound. Some expensive items like jewelry and technology will not be covered. Like other moving insurance, this coverage might also be limited to items packed by professional movers and not yourself.

Companies that offer third-party moving insurance include Baker International, Movinginsurance.com, Relocation Insurance Group and UNIRISC.

If you decide to get moving insurance from a third party and/or from your movers, make sure to consider how much it will cost you, the extent of the coverage and whether you are creating any liability (as determined by the moving or third-party insurance company).

How do I file a claim?

To file a claim, you’ll need to prove that the lost or damaged item was actually moved by professionals working for the moving company and that the item was not damaged beforehand. 

To ensure this process isn’t a pain, there are three things you should do to help support your claim:

  1. Create a comprehensive inventory list of every item you will have movers transport to your new residence. This should include items of extraordinary value like jewelry, silverware and technology.

  2. Take pictures of your items before and after the move.

  3. File the claim as soon as you notice any loss or damage, even if you still have time to make a claim.

Article Sources
  1. United States Census Bureau. “Calculating Migration Expectancy Using ACS Data.” https://www.census.gov/topics/population/migration/guidance/calculating-migration-expectancy.html.
  2. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “Understanding Valuation and Insurance.” https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/protect-your-move/valuation-insurance.

About the Author

Nick Fiorellini

Nick Fiorellini

Nick Fiorellini is a journalist, content writer and grant writer based in the Philadelphia area.

Full bio

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