Think You Don’t Need Moving Insurance? Here’s Why You May Want to Reconsider

published Dec 30, 2023
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Woman watering her plants in the process of moving house
Credit: Getty Images/ Justin Lambert

Between packing, organizing, cleaning, and finding a new place to live, moving is stressful all around. But it can feel extra daunting if you’re moving to a new region or state, which means you may need to hire movers to help you pull it off. When you do, the last thing you want to be worried about is whether they’ll damage or lose some of your most prized possessions along the way.

Enter moving insurance, which can help you hedge against some of this uncertainty.

“Simply put, moving insurance protects your assets during a move,” says real estate agent Karen Kostiw.

But before you start bubble-wrapping your dishware, there’s a lot to consider about moving insurance. Here’s what you need to know.

Moving Insurance Basics 

Federal law requires moving companies to offer two types of moving insurance for interstate moves. (Many also offer these for intrastate moves, too, but you’ll want to double check with the moving company.) 

One, called released value protection, is included at no extra charge, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation. This minimal protection means your mover is responsible for reimbursing you 60 cents per pound for any item that gets lost or damaged in transit. This isn’t ideal, because some of the most expensive items you own are likely also the lightest — like your laptop or your TV.

“Most moving companies will offer you very basic coverage based on the weight of the item instead of the actual value,” says real estate broker Adjina Dekidjiev. “If a TV is broken, basic coverage will only cover a small portion of the value.”

The other option is called full value protection and it’s more robust. With this type of coverage, your movers will have to repair, replace, or reimburse you for the full value of your belongings. You have to pay extra for this insurance, but the cost varies from company to company, so be sure to ask about full value protection when you’re getting estimates or quotes from different movers.

Beyond these two options, some moving companies may also offer optional third-party liability insurance. Under this type of plan, the movers still need to reimburse you for 60 cents per pound, but then the third-party insurance company will cover some or all of the rest of the costs, depending on the type of plan you buy. 

You can also buy third-party coverage yourself, from companies like Relocation Insurance Group and Baker International.

Is Moving Insurance Worth It?

The answer to this question is a highly personal one — and it all boils down to how much you want to protect your belongings. If you’ll be transporting art, jewelry, or family heirlooms, then you probably want to spring for coverage just to be safe.

“Moving insurance is worth the investment when you have valuables to protect,” says Kostiw. 

It’s also worth noting that your homeowners or renters insurance policy might offer some protection for moves, says real estate agent Mary Hall Mayer. But it’s best to contact the company and ask them about your specific policy — hypothetically, what types of circumstances would be covered, and what would not?

“There’s more to think about than you would imagine,” she says. “While no one wants to pay for mover’s insurance on one that’s already covered under a homeowner’s policy, you want to be sure that you are covered for what your homeowner’s policy won’t pay.”

Insurance aside, you should also think long and hard about which items you pack into the truck and which ones you keep with you during the move instead. 

“While I typically advise clients to buy the extra insurance for their moves, I also urge them to be realistic,” says Amanda Wiss, founder Urban Clarity, a New York City-based home organizing company. “Insurance will technically cover the physical cost of a broken item, but once an item is broken, it’s still broken. Maybe even consider moving certain items yourself if you’d like to keep them under careful watch.”