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Moving

Why It Might Pay to Be Protected With Moving Insurance

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moving-insurance (XiXinXing)

As if you don't have enough to worry about when you're moving. You have to pack all of your worldly possessions. Call all the utility companies. Forward all the mail. And try not to constantly worry that you're forgetting something so important the whole operation (aka "your life") will crumble. It's enough to drive you mad -- but all of that isn't even the half of it.

Brace yourself: The movers could break your stuff.

If you hired the right pros, the odds are good all of your belongings will make it to your new home very much intact. But even the best movers can make a mistake now and then -- and that mistake could involve dropping your great-grandmother's antique hutch down a flight of stairs.

You could opt for the more expensive expanded moving insurance offered by moving companies to protect you from this calamity, but don't pull the trigger just yet. First, make sure you know what's what.

Basic insurance

By state regulation, moving companies are obligated to offer a basic per pound insurance. Known as "released value protection," this basic coverage is typically set at 60 cents per pound, says Lavi Brill, director of on-site sales for New York City -- based Oz Moving & Storage.

That means if your items are destroyed during a move, you won't receive a check for the full original cost you paid. Instead, the replacement costs will be calculated based on the coverage limits.

The good news? Licensed moving companies include the cost of this coverage in their quotes, so you'll always have this basic protection. But if you want more, you're going to have to pony up.

Expanded coverage

If 60 cents per pound won't cover it, you can purchase additional insurance through the moving company.

"Most companies also offer an additional $10,000 worth of coverage for an additional $50, with a $500 deductible," Brill says. (Note: You may be quoted a different rate depending on where you live and what moving company you hire.)

Known as "full-value protection," the coverage is based on a valuation of the contents being transported. And if something goes wrong, it's up to the moving company to decide how to deal.

Full-value protection allows the moving company two options if any articles are lost, destroyed, or damaged during the move. It can have the item repaired so it's in the same condition as it was before being damaged, or it can replace the item with something similar.

Basically, if your 2-year-old washing machine is smashed, the moving company won't replace it with a new one. You'll likely be given the fair market value of a 2-year-old washing machine.

Another caveat: Movers are not required to reimburse you for everything. "The [full-value protection] excludes very high -- value items worth $5,000 or more," Brill says.

Coverage for extremely valuable items

If you're transporting some very valuable items, you can opt for more coverage through a third-party insurance provider, but it'll cost you.

The going rate is usually $100 per additional $10,000 in coverage, Brill says, and it generally covers all items.

If you opt for this coverage, you should inventory your belongings (especially your valuables) before you pack. For out-of-state moves, also make sure those valuables are listed on the shipping documents. It's time-consuming, but it will save you a headache later if something turns up missing or broken and you need to file a claim.

You may already be protected

Your renters or homeowners insurance may cover your items, even after they've left the house. To find out if you're already covered, call your insurance agent.

You may also be able to opt for additional moving insurance through your insurance provider, letting you skip the third party, but make sure you check the coverage limits. Like with the third-party insurance offered by the moving company, you may still need a higher policy limit to cover your valuables.

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