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 is a crucial 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 is also a lot more complicated than that. While homeowners insurance generally does help cover your possessions, the loss must be related to a peril listed in your policy.

While it is common for insurance providers to maintain coverage for contents during a move, it is 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. 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 will be responsible for any injuries and damages sustained.

When moving between residences, ensure both are covered

Your home insurance policy might cover both your old and new home for 30 days. Still, you must 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 the province, you will 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 will need to give yourself time to find a new provider and set up a new policy.

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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 is imperative to ensure there are no periods that you are not carrying any insurance. It is also worthwhile to understand what factors affect your home insurance premium.

Many things can happen to change the expected timing of your 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 for 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 proper 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 (depending on its size), you may be able to claim it on your auto insurance as if it were your vehicle. A typical auto policy will not extend coverage to commercial moving trucks. Whereas if you rent a cargo van for the move, you may have coverage.

Furthermore, you must also consider the possibility of your friends accidentally damaging your belongings or getting injured during the move. You should include liability coverage and 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 see out the back window and ensure all passengers will be safe and comfortable.

Using professional movers

Finding a professional moving company can be much less hassle than organizing friends to help and renting a truck. But you still need to do your homework and make sure you choose one with good references and ratings. You can also check 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 equipment or whether it will 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 you have packed yourself; others will provide you with packing instructions.
  • Ask for a copy of the insurance policies before choosing your moving company. When the mover arrives, inspect the condition of your belongings together and agree on the number of boxes. Repeat this step after the move too.
  • Understand that breakage and theft are different types of claims. While your homeowners’ policy will likely cover theft, the moving company usually needs to offer insurance for damaged property.

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, including:

  • Released liability protection — This coverage will provide basic compensation for damaged or lost belongings.
  • Replacement value protection — This coverage will cover the full cost of replacing any damaged or missing items.

If your possessions must be left in a moving van overnight, confirm the vehicle 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 consider 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.