Published: May 2015
Q: I have a lot of belongings that are coming along with me to my new home. Does my homeowners insurance protect my things if something happens to them during the move?
A: Not necessarily, says Jason Kilgo, an Allstate insurance agency owner in Lorton, Virginia. While homeowners insurance generally does cover your personal possessions, the loss has to be related to a peril that's listed in your policy, he says.
"You've got fire, water, theft ... these are some of the perils in a typical policy," says Kilgo. "But the only one that normally comes into play during a move is theft. So, if the moving company actually steals something, or if there's a theft out of the truck, that's when the protection in your homeowners policy would kick in."
If the moving truck is in an accident while transporting your belongings and your property is damaged, you'd likely be covered by your homeowners policy. In some cases, though, you may see that your coverage limits are lower while your belongings are being transported during a move. Your agent can help answer any questions about your specific policy.
The thing to remember, Kilgo says, is that your deductible will still apply.
"A typical family household has a $1,000 deductible on their homeowners policy. So if something like a tablet computer is stolen, there's going to be coverage for that, but the deductible may exceed the value of the tablet," he says.
It's also important to know that, whether it's during a move or not, any property covered by homeowners insurance will only be protected up to the limits on your policy. Your policy may also include a lower limit for your personal property while it's away from your residence premises.
In addition, "there are different standard limits depending on the category of property," says Kilgo. For instance, your policy may state maximum coverage amounts for items such as jewelry or baseball cards.
One thing Kilgo suggests is purchasing extra coverage — also referred to as scheduling — for items that are of significant value so you get protection for them up to their appraised value, not just the standard personal property limit.
"No one wants to spend $10,000 for a diamond ring only to get $1,500 for it when it comes time to file a claim," Kilgo says
While your homeowners policy will likely cover theft, when it comes to damaged property, it isn't likely to provide coverage for a move-related incident.
If, say, your movers drop a table and the legs break off, or if they tear the canvas on that expensive oil painting, "there's no protection for breakage under a typical homeowners policy," Kilgo explains. However, a moving company may offer its own insurance for that type of risk. And, says Kilgo, "your agent can help advise you on your choices there."
Once again, scheduling items of significant value would offer greater coverage for the expensive oil painting — and the scheduled item will typically be covered no matter where the loss or damage occurs.
There are other reasons to reach out to your agent before your move, of course.
"We like to talk to our customers at least 30 to 60 days before a move, so we can go over the change of address and any coverages they may want for the new home compared to what they had before," says Kilgo.
It's also an opportunity to go over any expected changes to your premiums with the new home.
"Rates may vary by ZIP code or geographical region," says Kilgo. "And because insurance will vary from state to state, we want to make sure customers understand any changes in policy that will be required if they move across state lines."
Having that conversation well in advance of your move is an opportunity to ensure that you have all the coverages you want when you move to your new home, says Kilgo. "That's what helps us sleep at night," he says, "knowing that we've helped take care of you if anything were to happen."