There is an unfortunate contradiction in the moving industry that has caused serious problems for many years. Namely, the issue is that discussing moving insurance with upcoming moving customers actually scares them away from choosing the moving company. As a result, movers are reluctant to push the point and customers are wary of choosing any moving company that discusses the reality that is protecting against possible problems. Yet in practice, there is a very real possibility that human error, acts of nature or other unforeseen events can have negative ramifications on a move—all of which can be protected by moving insurance.
Reasons for Buying Moving Insurance
Antiques, fine art, pianos, family heirlooms and expensive electronics are often the first moving items that come to mind when customers consider moving insurance. It often goes without saying that these items need the additional replacement protection that moving insurance offers. But what about your dining room table? Or your bedroom furniture set? Chances are anything that you invested your hard-earned money on—and would be difficult to replace financially or emotionally—is something worth protecting with moving insurance. Make a list of all the items that could be damaged due to accidents or unforeseen events and then consider whether you could afford to replace them. If you cannot or would have difficulty, moving insurance is something you should consider.
Liabilities of a Moving Company
Moving companies have insurance but that doesn’t often extend to your belongings with the exception of specific circumstances. Instead, your belongings are usually protected by something called valuation—which is not technically insurance as it is not regulated by a state-level department of insurance. Instead it is usually a basic protection of value based on an item’s weight—a subjectively outdated measurement of value that has its roots in rules written several decades ago. Today’s items are less likely to be more expensive as they get heavier—for example, your new laptop. Your “more expensive because it is as light as paper” brand new laptop would be worth pocket change according to these standards.
This isn’t to say that moving companies do not want to compensate you for damages—many reputable moving companies will take responsibilities for their mistakes and increase claims above what they are legally liable for—but it can be difficult to determine fault in moving. For example, if you packed your expensive laptop in a box with kitchen magnets, or didn’t use proper packing protection to encase your laptop, your moving company will be able to reasonably argue that it is not their fault the laptop is broken. Moving companies are unlikely to be held accountable for packing mistakes they didn’t commit—but your laptop will be broken and in need of replacement regardless of who is at fault.
The Costs of Moving Insurance
As with all things, you need to consider the costs of buying insurance against the value you would receive should you have a claim. You may not be able to protect against everything due to cost but you can prioritize your insured items to make certain your most valued possessions are protected. For items you cannot afford to insure but are still concerned about, be extra careful communicating details with your mover. For small or portable fragile items, consider keeping them in your possession for the move (i.e., put your laptop in your bag rather than putting it in a box that may end up under another one). For large or bulky items that must be moved, discuss with your mover how you can take extra protections, from utilizing extra blankets to special crating or packing materials. Overcommunication will help make sure your items are kept safe—and not sorry.