Moving soon? Make sure you know about your moving insurance coverage and options to ensure your belongings are protected throughout the relocation process! Here’s our guide to moving insurance.
Do Moving Companies Have Insurance?
Reputable, legitimate moving companies carry the insurance that federal and state laws mandate. That sounds great, but what does it mean? Before you sign a moving contract, you’ll want to know if your moving company has insurance, and how that insurance protects your belongings from loss, damage, or theft.
Long-distance moving companies must offer their customers either released liability protection or full-value protection, as mandated by federal law. Local (moves of less than 100 miles distance) movers are under the jurisdiction of state and local governments, which establish their own insurance requirements. To understand the insurance coverage that your prospective moving company provides, ask for a copy in writing.
Long-Distance Moving Insurance
The moving industry defines a long-distance move as one that crosses state lines or covers over 100 miles within a state. Our discussion of long-distance moving insurance applies to the former, as interstate moves fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Transportation. A long-distance intrastate move, on the other hand, would fall under that state’s moving regulations.
One of the best resources to learn about long distance moving insurance is the USDOT booklet, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” The law requires that your mover provides you with a copy of this booklet, however, you’ll be a step ahead if you read it before signing your moving contract.
Long-distance movers must carry licensing through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency that operates under the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). To renew its license, a company must show proof of FMCSA-mandated insurance. To learn more, go to protectyourmove.gov.
Types of Insurance Long Distance Movers Carry
FMCSA mandates the following types of insurance for long-distance moving companies:
1. BIPD (Bodily-Injury and Property Damage) Primary Insurance
FMCSA requires a long-distance carrier to maintain two components (bodily-injury and property damage) of liability insurance of $750,000 coverage. The mover’s insurance company must complete the required forms and file them directly with FMCSA to prove appropriate coverage. An example of bodily injury coverage would be when a cyclist is injured because the moving van hit the bicycle. Property damage coverage pays for, let’s say, the expenses of repairing your fence along your driveway that the driver of the moving truck didn’t see before it was too late.
2. Cargo Insurance
Every moving company is required to assume liability for the value of your household goods. Cargo insurance covers your household goods while they’re in transit. The moving company assumes legal responsibility for any losses or damage during the transportation of your shipment. You can choose between two different liability levels: released value or full (replacement) value protection. It’s critical to understand the amount of protection that each level provides. The section of this guide, ‘Does My Moving Company’s Insurance Cover My Belongings During an Interstate Move?’ describes the two levels in detail.
Bonding is not insurance. A bond protects you, the client, in the event the moving company breaks any laws, conducts business unethically, or causes you to sustain a financial loss. A bond guarantees the moving company will perform the work specified in your moving contract and follow FMCSA guidelines. The mover must provide one of two types of $75,000 bonds:
- Surety Bond: A Surety Bond must be filed with FMCSA by an insurance company. It can pay the surety bond in monthly or annual premiums.
- Trust Fund Agreement Bond: A mover purchases a Trust Fund Agreement Bond through a financial institution. The trust fund agreement bond requires that the moving company deposits $75,000 into a trust fund.
Is My Long Distance Moving Company Insured?
Want to find out if your moving company carries the mandatory policies? You can check any interstate mover’s licensing and insurance status through FMCSA’s web portal. We’ll show you how! Go here to start your search by entering part of the company’s name, or its US DOT# or MC#.
Hit “Search” and the system will display results for your search query.
In this example, we’re looking for information on Two Men and a Truck in Tempe, AZ. Once you identify the company you’re looking for on the list, just click the blue hyperlink. Clicking the Tempe result from above takes us to a page that displays the most recent licensing information for this mover:
You can view the company’s contact information, safety rating, and history of complaints. If you click the link to “Insurance Data,” you can look up the company’s insurance information. On the next screen, check the “I’m not a robot” box, then hit “Search.” Note, the docket number is pre-populated based on the previous page, so you won’t need to enter any additional search criteria.
On the next page, you’ll see something like this:
Click the “Report” under “View Details.” This report displays information on the company’s insurance requirements and current insurance policies. For example, on the report for Two Men and a Truck Tempe, you can see the company’s insurance requirements:
Does My Moving Company’s Insurance Cover My Belongings During an Interstate Move?
Anytime you move, your belongings are at risk of damage or loss. Most interstate moves happen without a hitch, but if an accident does happen, you want to understand what the moving company’s insurance covers.
The USDOT agency, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), mandates that your long-distance mover is liable for the belongings that you ask them to transport. They must offer the customer two types of cargo liability coverage. Your moving company will ask you to choose one of the two types:
Released Value Protection
Released value protection constitutes minimal coverage, offered at no charge. If damage occurs during the move, the mover will pay only 60 cents per pound per item. For example, if the moving company damages or loses your 40-pound flat-screen TV valued at $800, you would only receive $24 (60 cents x 40 pounds) in compensation. Remember – the coverage depends on the weight of the item, not the value. The insurance will not replace or repair the damaged item.
You must sign for released value protection to prove that you agree to this minimal coverage. If you do not sign in agreement, the mover will ship your belongings under Full Value Protection coverage, and you’ll pay extra for this more comprehensive policy.
Full Value Protection
Full Value Protection is more comprehensive coverage that requires you to pay an additional fee. If any of your belongings are damaged, destroyed, or lost during the move, the moving company – at its discretion – will either repair the item, replace the item with something similar, or give you cash at the replacement value. FMCSA allows the moving company to limit its liability for valuable items that exceed a value of $100 per pound. You have the option of paying an additional charge to include valuable items coverage in your moving contract.
Usually, the full value protection premium cost is a percentage of the total value of your shipment. For example, if you have a load worth $85,000, your premium might be 1% of the value, or $850. The cost of Full Value Protection varies between moving companies, and your total premium will depend on the deductible level you choose.
Local and In-State Moving Insurance
States, counties, and local governments have jurisdiction over local and in-state moves. Typically the state DMV, DOT, or local governing authority determines the type and extent of insurance local and in-state moving companies must have. Therefore, insurance requirements can vary from state-to-state.
In California, for example, the California Public Utilities Commission regulates local moves (less than 100 miles in distance). The CPUC requires that moving companies carry cargo insurance and liability coverage. In Florida, a mover must maintain cargo insurance and motor vehicle insurance. However, individual counties like Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach have specific local ordinances that govern local moves.
Types of Insurance Required in Most States
Many states require movers to carry the following types of insurance coverage:
Auto Liability Insurance
This insurance covers the moving company’s drivers and works like your personal auto insurance. Most states require both elements of this insurance: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. If the moving van driver is at fault for injuring another person, bodily injury liability helps pay for the medical expenses, loss of income, lawsuits, or the funeral of the injured person up to a given limit. Property damage liability helps pay for property repairs, such as damage to another vehicle or a structure if the driver is at fault.
Many states require that moving companies carry cargo Insurance. This insurance covers your household belongings that the mover transports in its van or truck. Some movers will not cover belongings that you pack yourself, so be sure to ask your mover and obtain written documentation. You may be able to choose between released value cargo protection or full-value protection. Be sure to discuss the cargo insurance specifics with your mover because released value protection offers minimal protection. Full-value protection can be relatively expensive, so you’ll need to weigh your options.
Accident Insurance (Worker’s Compensation)
Almost every state requires moving companies to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Accident insurance provides benefits to a moving company’s employees if they get injured on the job. A mover might lift hundreds or thousands of pounds in the course of a move, which puts them at risk for a variety of injuries. Workers Compensation pays for medical bills, lost wages, vocational rehabilitation, disability payments, and death benefits if the moving company’s employees get injured during the move. Accident insurance can also help limit a moving company’s liability in work-related lawsuits.
Some movers may also carry (and some condo and apartment buildings may require proof of) the following types of coverage:
General Liability Insurance
This coverage can provide critical baseline protection for a business. General liability coverage provides protection from libel or slander that may affect the business’ reputation, or pay for court and legal fees, medical expenses, or replacement or repair of property damage.
It can help protect the moving company’s business assets if a third-party gets injured due to employee negligence. For example, as the movers are loading boxes into the van, a passerby trips and falls over boxes stacked near the sidewalk. His knee is severely injured, and an ambulance takes him to the hospital. In this situation, the moving company’s general liability insurance will cover the expenses.
Umbrella insurance is a supplemental insurance policy that offers protection for broad claims. Sometimes a liability lawsuit can exceed the primary policy limits. The umbrella policy provides additional protection for settlements, legal costs, and judgments. For example, if a moving van driver is responsible for a multi-car accident on the freeway, the injuries and damages could be enormous. The standard auto liability insurance may have a limit that wouldn’t cover all the expenses, and the moving company would be responsible for the remainder. However, an umbrella policy would cover those covered.
Can My Coverage Be Limited or Denied for a Long-Distance or Local Move?
If you need to file a claim for damage or loss, avoid surprises and frustration. Certain conditions enable a moving company to deny your claim. Be sure to know what they are.
- You pack hazardous, dangerous, perishable, or unallowed items without your mover’s knowledge.
- You don’t notify your mover in writing of belongings that have an exceptional value, thereby limiting your coverage to the policy you agreed to.
- You sign a receipt for the delivery of your belongings that contains language releasing your mover from any liability. Make sure the mover omits this language from your receipt before you sign.
- You packed your own boxes. Most movers’ insurance doesn’t cover damage to belongings you pack yourself.
- You don’t promptly report damage or loss to your belongings. You have nine months from the delivery date (or the date stated on your contract that delivery should have occurred) to file a claim.
Third-Party Moving Insurance
Third-party moving insurance can provide coverage beyond what your mover’s policy specifies. Once you review the specific coverage your mover offers, if you want or need additional coverage, you can purchase it through a third party.
Third-party moving insurance can provide coverage to:
- Supplement your mover’s insurance. For example, if you have expensive custom-made furniture, a kitchen full of pricey cookware, antiques, or valuable artwork, you can buy additional coverage.
- Cover costs caused by events that are beyond the movers’ control. These events might include fires, floods, earthquakes, severe wind storms, etc.
- Cover loss or damage from mildew and mold.
- Cover the value of belongings excluded by movers. Most movers’ policies don’t cover breakage or loss of any items you packed yourself. This reason may be one of the most compelling to buy third-party moving insurance.
Moves are stressful, and third-party moving insurance may provide you with some peace of mind during this time. Some moving companies offer third-party moving insurance to their customers as a convenience. Still, it may pay to shop around and get estimates from various well known, reputable insurance companies such as Geico, Farmers, Allstate, or State Farm.
Does My Current Homeowners’ Policy Cover Moving?
Don’t assume that your homeowners’ policy will cover your move. The majority of these policies don’t. There are some instances where it may, such as if you’re moving locally and plan to maintain the same policy you had at your old place. Some homeowners’ policies cover some aspects of moves but usually include specific caveats. For example, they may only cover your belongings while in transport but not during the loading or unloading process. It’s worthwhile to call your insurance agent for clarity about how your homeowners’ policy may cover your move.
Does Renters’ Insurance Cover Moving?
Renters’ insurance has less gray area than homeowners’ insurance when it comes to moving. The general answer is no, your renters’ insurance won’t cover damage or loss during your move. Renters policies have conditions, called perils, under which coverage replaces damaged items in your rental. These perils are pretty much standard among insurance companies. If your policy does not explicitly list a hazard, then coverage isn’t provided. Also note, your policy may expressly exclude some perils. For example, your policy may not list moving as a covered peril, meaning it does not cover your move. Or, your policy may expressly exclude moving, which also means it doesn’t cover your move.
Getting a Certificate of Insurance When Moving
When you’re moving, you have a lot on your mind. Everything you own is going on that moving truck, and if you’re worried something may get damaged or lost, insurance can help provide some peace of mind. But what proves the moving company’s insurance coverage? A Certificate of Insurance (COI) summarizes the mover’s insurance policy coverage and offers quick access to the policy’s details.
What is a Certificate of Insurance?
A Certificate of Insurance (COI) is a document that the mover’s insurance company provides to verify the moving company’s insurance policy. The COI typically summarizes protection for various types of liability coverage. It can specify the range of coverage the mover has, including liability, auto liability, cargo insurance, workers’ compensation, or umbrella coverage. The document will include:
- The policyholder’s name and mailing address
- The effective dates of the policy
- The name of the issuing insurance company and the insurance agency’s contact person
- The type of coverage, coverage levels, and policy limits
- Whether coverage applies per occurrence or per claim
- Whether or not the policy includes an additional insured clause
Do I Need to Request a Certificate of Insurance?
No matter the distance or size of your move, it’s a good idea to request a copy of your moving company’s COI to keep in your relocation file. However, if you’re moving from or to a condo or apartment building, the building manager will likely request a copy of the COI. If your building requires a COI, it’s likely the COI must include an “additional insured” clause. Any reputable moving company can provide a COI, but not all COIs include the additional insured provision. Ask your mover if their COI includes “additional insured.”
When you’re vetting moving companies for your condo or apartment move, be sure to mention your building requires a COI. Request that the sales staff email the COI to you. That way, you’ll have a copy, and proof that you forwarded it to your building manager.
How to Obtain a COI
Reputable moving companies can quickly and easily provide you with a COI. Simply call and ask for it. If you’re moving into a building that requires a COI, request it well before moving day, so it doesn’t delay your move. Movers are not allowed to enter a building unless the manager has verified the moving company’s insurance.