Getting Insured for an International Move
Even though moving companies can provide the coverage amount for your relocation package, you still need to read the moving contract to ensure you fully understand the terms, the coverage and what the company can provide. The reason for this is, instead of insurance, valuation is presented automatically by many moving companies.
Understanding Valuation Coverage
Movers can give you several kinds of valuation coverage, such as:
- Complete Protection / Full Replacement Value Coverage
This is the most comprehensive type of valuation coverage, but it is not usually given by movers. This was made available for the protection of your belongings, whether they be lost, destroyed, or damaged while in your mover’s custody.
They also cover for the replacement or repair of your damaged property and can be used to obtain a cash settlement. Though it might sound perfect, there are also downsides to it. The coverage amount may be subject to the cost of repair, the depreciated value of the item and to a deductible level of liability that may reduce your cost.
- Assessed Protection/ Lump sum Value
This valuation coverage is the best if your belongings are valuable, but do not weigh much. You can set the amount by value instead of weight, so you can buy insurance based on the value of your items or per $1000 worth of it. The moving company will honor it only if it’s mentioned on your lading bill in writing.
- Weight Based Value Protection
You can set a per-pound amount for your items. The value of your item based on the weight of a shipment is then multiplied by the set amount / pound. Damage or loss claims are settled based on the depreciated value of lost or damaged items up to the full liability value based on the weight of the total shipment. This will be settled according to the weight of your property and not its actual value.
Moving Services Contracts
Details that movers don’t want you to know:
- Frequently stated in movers’ contracts is the following clause: Damage to your property during transportation is not the moving company’s liability. For instance, damage to your property due to the accidental falling of boxes during the move is not covered by the moving company, regardless if the boxes were not well packed or not properly placed inside the truck.
- Typically on a basic moving contract, it states they will cover any damage the company caused. However, the movers will not compensate for damages sustained due to inefficiency in the way you packed your property.
In addition, your belongings may not be protected even if your company/employer paid for your relocation. It is best to ask your employer for a copy of the mover’s contract and a contact number so you can buy some extra insurance if needed.
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Coverage for your Home or Renter’s Insurance
You should be able to plan ahead after reading the mover’s contract and knowing which are the liabilities of the moving company and which are not. Afterwards, you can choose a proper valuation coverage for your properties.
The next step is to know through your insurance broker if your personal property is insured with a homeowner’s or renter’s policy in case of relocating. A typical homeowner’s or renter’s policy may only cover 10% of your damaged property during transportation.
That is why it is best to purchase extra insurance to protect and secure your belongings during transportation, while picking them up from your previous home, while placing them in a truck and during their transit to the final destination.
Among all types of transportation insurance, there is one that is most popular, the “Goods in Transit” insurance. This extra insurance is what most movers sell, but it may not be beneficial for you. Ultimately, it’s best to let your insurance broker assess if you need to get any additional insurance and also to help you select which moving company has a greater coverage and service. Finally, it is best to buy the extra moving insurance using a renter’s or homeowner’s insurance broker.
How to File a Damage Claim
- Examine the moving company’s inventory regarding the quantity and condition of your items before the shipment. Also check if your property has been transferred safely to its new location. This way, you will know whether the damages were incurred during the move or if they were pre-existing.
- In case there are missing or damaged items upon delivery, do not remove the damaged ones from the box, so your claim will be stronger. A claim for loss or damage will not be recognized unless it is recorded in the inventory and is reported and acknowledged by the mover. The inventory list should be signed by you and the mover.
- On the next day, check with the moving company if your claim was reported. Report immediately if you find other damages.
Among the actions which can limit the moving company’s liability, we number:
- Packing your perishable items and hazardous materials without your mover’s knowledge.
- Any items not packed by the moving company.
- Choosing Released Value Coverage.
- Not being able to inform the moving company in writing about the items valued at more than $100 per pound.
- Signing a contract that discharges or releases the moving company from any kind of liability.
- Failing to submit or issue a written claim within nine months.
The following are some basic things you need to know if you are moving overseas:
- Protect what you value most. That’s why you need to make sure your high value items (such as fine art, collectibles, and antiques) are properly evaluated, appraised, and insured for their full value. You can file for a claim to get the maximum benefits and proper reimbursement for your lost or damaged items, but your ownership and the value of the items must be proven first.
- The Household Goods Inventory is referred to as the packing or the inventory list. Its purpose is to document the actual shape of the items at origin and the missing or damage items at the destination point. The mover places a sticker with a number on every item and describes its condition by writing it in the Household Goods Descriptive Inventory form before he takes possession of the shipment.
- You will need to sign the Household Goods Descriptive Inventory again when the shipment is delivered at its destination. Any loss or damage to your items happening during the move must be noted in the inventory at this time. Claims may not be considered if you failed to do so.
- The coverage amount for your damaged property, especially for those of high value will not be greater than their original value. You will never get more than the quoted figure on the insurance policy, so do not over-insure.
On the other hand, it is also wise not to under-insure your property, because if it is under-valued, any claims will be treated as average or the insurance company may recognize you only as a co-underwriter.
- Your mover will not be liable for any damage to your property if you decide to pack your household shipment by yourself for international moving. Insurance policies for overseas shipments do not include coverage for shipments that are not professionally packed. Remember, sensitive and fragile articles may only be covered if they are packed by movers.
- The moving company should give you a copy of the certificate of insurance. Use it to immediately report to the insurance company any damage or loss to your shipment.
- Before you file any claims, make sure to unpack and inspect every one of your items. Keep all the broken items for inspection and investigation purposes. These will be conducted by the insurance claims adjuster. Be sure to check the inventory for the assigned number of each broken item and the box where these items were packed.
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