Moving Day: Are Your Belongings Still Covered Once They’re in The Truck?

By Gail Balfour
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Moving is stressful. There are so many things to remember to do and arrange that your home insurance coverage is probably the last thing on your mind. But it’s an important step – one that could save you (or cost you) thousands of dollars.

You might be wondering if your insurance policy will cover your personal property during a move. The answer is 'yes'. But it’s also a lot more complicated than that. While homeowners insurance generally does help cover your possessions, the loss has to be related to a peril that's listed in your policy.

And while it’s common for insurance providers to maintain coverage for contents during a move, it’s not a legal requirement. So always double-check with your provider before moving day.

You could choose to purchase a separate policy to cover your personal property during a move instead. However, a different policy is usually more expensive than amending your home insurance policy. Plus, your home insurance policy includes critical protection against liability exposures that your family may face. If you let your home insurance lapse and accidentally injure a third party, then you’ll be responsible for any injuries and damages sustained by the third party.

When Moving Between Residences, Ensure Both Are Covered

Your home insurance policy might cover both your old and new home for 30 days. However, you must still tell your insurer that you're moving – make sure you notify them about 30 to 60 days before your planned moving date. If your belongings are divided between two properties for more than 30 days, make sure you're covered by contacting your insurer so that they can modify the terms of your insurance policy or add a note to your file.

Changing Provinces? Location Matters

If you are moving out of province, you’ll need to check with your insurance company or broker to make sure you can still get coverage in your new location. If not, then you’ll need to give yourself time to find a new provider and set up a new policy.

According to research conducted by Square One Insurance, more than 300,000 Canadians move to new homes in different provinces each year. Ontario had the most significant portion of new residents at 27% in 2016, followed by Alberta at 21%. Interestingly, Alberta had the largest share of residents leave the province at 24% in 2016, followed by Ontario at 20%. The insurer’s study also found that a whopping 80% of Canadians are not adequately insuring their belongings while they’re in transit.

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Stuff Can Go Wrong: Ensure There Are No Gaps in Your Coverage

If you find yourself needing to change providers or policies, it’s imperative to ensure there are no periods that you’re not carrying any insurance. It’s also worthwhile to understand what factors affect your home insurance premium. Many things can happen to change expected the timing of moving day, including:

  • Closing dates may change
  • Keys can be dropped off early or late
  • Moving companies can overbook
  • Extreme weather can cause delays

Be ready to contact your insurance company and notify them of a change in dates of both properties. That will ensure your contents are covered appropriately. It also gives you liability insurance in case anyone comes to harm on your property, regardless of the cause.

Do-It-Yourself Moves May Cost More Than You Think

If you have decided to forgo movers and rely on family and friends to help you, you could save a lot of money, as long as you protect yourself with the right coverage. If you rent a truck, decide how you are going to insure it. You can either take out the insurance offered by the rental company or call your auto insurer.

If something happens to the truck, you may be able to claim it on your auto insurance as if it were your vehicle. But you also have to take into account the possibility of your friends accidentally damaging your belongings or getting injured during your move. You should include liability coverage and also increase your home insurance to cover all perils.

If you plan to use your vehicle instead, make sure you pack your personal property carefully. You need to be able to see out the back window as well as make sure any passengers will be able to sit comfortably.

Using Professional Movers

Finding a professional moving company to help you can be much less hassle than trying to organize friends to help and rent a truck, but you still need to do your homework and make sure you choose one that has good references and ratings. You can also check to find out if the mover has been certified by the Canadian Association of Movers (CAM).

The insurance coverage movers offer also varies:

  • Check if the company has their own equipment or whether they’ll use a subcontractor to provide the service. If so, make sure you know their certification and track record. Determine if the mover is responsible for all services from end to end — including those provided by subcontractors.
  • Some movers offer basic coverage based on the weight of your belongings. In that scenario, regardless of what might end up damaged, the coverage will be the same.
  • Some movers will not insure anything that you have packed yourself; others will provide you with packing instructions.
  • Ask for a copy of the insurance policies before choosing your moving company. On moving day, inspect the condition of your belongings with the mover before and after the move, and make sure you agree on how many boxes there are.
  • Understand that breakage and theft are different types of claims. While your homeowners’ policy will likely cover theft, when it comes to damaged property, it is usually the moving company that needs to offer insurance for that type of risk.

Don’t Forget to Cover Any Stored Belongings

If you put things in storage to prepare for a move, consider purchasing insurance coverage for stored goods. There are usually several options to choose from, inducing released liability which will provide basic compensation for damaged or lost belongings or replacement value protection which will cover the full cost of replacing any damaged or missing items. If your possessions must be left in a moving van overnight, confirm that it will be parked in a secure area or unloaded into a secure facility. If your goods are in a facility, check if it is heated during the winter months.

Can Moving Impact My Car Insurance Too?

The short answer is ‘yes’. There are several factors that insurance companies take into consideration when calculating your car insurance premium, and the location of your new property is one of them. Your premium may vary depending on where your new place is, how long your commute to work may be, how often you will be using your car now, and the number of drivers on your policy.

The critical takeaway is to let your home insurance provider know about any upcoming moves. Your insurer can provide advice on coverage updates that you may need to keep you protected, both on moving day and once you settle into your new home.