Does renters insurance cover moving damage?

Your things are important to you. So when you move, you want to be confident that they’ll make it from point A to point B safe and sound. That means if you’re hiring movers, you’ll want to spend some time asking your friends for recommendations, combing through Yelp reviews, and vetting your options.

Still, accidents happen, and even five-star movers occasionally slip up. But what happens if an accident sends one of your prized possessions crashing to the ground? Will insurance cover the cost of a replacement?

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Does your renters insurance cover you if your moving company breaks something?

Unfortunately, probably not.

Most renters insurance does not cover general damage done to your belongings while they’re being handled by movers. So if a mover accidentally cracks the leg off of a chair while lugging it up the stairs, or a box of dishes bites the dust, it’s unlikely that you’ll be covered.

That being said, there are a few specific circumstances in which your belongings may be covered during a move. Renters insurance plans typically include a list of covered perils, meaning causes of damage that are covered by the policy, like fire and theft.

If damage results from one of those covered perils during your move, your renters insurance might cover you. For example, if your policy covers theft and your movers steal your flat screen TV, or your plan covers fire and the moving truck goes up in flames, you may be able to seek reimbursement.

It’s also worth noting that if you’ve added any extra coverage to your renters insurance policy (in the form of “endorsements”), breakage may be covered. For example, with the Jetty Valuables Protection Power-Up, you can add protection for high-value items like fine art and antique furniture—and that protection could kick in even if your things are broken in transit.

Does renters insurance cover moving if you’re doing it yourself?

The above still holds. Your renters insurance will likely only help in the case of a covered peril—not a moving mishap.

What can you do to protect your stuff from a momentary lapse in coordination or a poorly-padded box?

If you’re hiring movers, ask to see a copy of their liability insurance. Any reputable moving company will be happy to show Certificate of Insurance, or COI. In fact, many property managers will require this documentation of insurance for moving before allowing a company into a building.

When looking over your movers’ COI, make sure that their insurance covers damage caused in your current residence, your new residence, and in transit. You should also make sure you’re aware of any timeframe in which you’ll need to file a claim, and any caps on payouts.

Ideally, your moving company’s insurance should cover reimbursement for the replacement cost of your things (the amount of money it will cost to buy a brand new version of the same item) rather than each item’s actual cash value.

It’s also worth noting that some moving companies calculate insurance liability for moving by weight, rather than by value. The typical rate is 60 cents per pound per article—meaning that if your movers were to damage your 100-pound, $600 flat-screen LED TV, the moving company would only be liable for $60.

What if the moving company’s insurance isn’t enough?

If your moving company doesn’t offer the level of insurance coverage for moving you want, you may be able to purchase additional coverage, either through your moving company or a third-party provider.

Most likely, your moving company will offer two options for an additional cost: full value protection, which is coverage for the full replacement value of your belongings, or separate liability coverage, which increases coverage by a set amount. These will be priced according to the amount of coverage they offer, so take stock of your possessions and think about which policy makes the most sense for you.

You might also want to think about purchasing trip transit insurance for moving, which covers your belongings while they’re in transit, or storage insurance, which covers any items that you need to store temporarily during your move.

What else can you do to eliminate moving stress?

As you get ready to move, take some time to dust off and update your home inventory. Make sure you have an accurate list of your possessions and their estimated values before you start to pack. Then, plan to take inventory of your things and check for damage as you unpack so that you can file any claims in a timely manner.

You should also update your renters insurance policy with the details of your move, including the date and your new address. Though the answer to “does renters insurance cover moving damages?” is often negative unless it’s part of a covered peril, alerting your renters insurance company ensures that you’ll be covered at your old place until you hand in the keys, and at your new place from the time all of your things are in the door.