Moving Insurance: Keep Your Stuff Protected

A huge part of choosing a moving company is making sure that your stuff doesn’t break, get damaged, or be lost during the move. After all, that’s the whole point of leaving the job to the pros, isn’t it? Alas, we live in an unpredictable world where anything can happen, and often does. Even the biggest, best-moving companies can suffer setbacks or end up damaging your residence or personal belongings. But what separates the best companies from the rest, is how they go about resolving issues with damages, and the options they offer to their customers that make the homeowner feel at ease with the company moving their stuff.

An obvious question comes up right away: do you even need to insure or protect your stuff during the move? This is where the old cliché that “no two moves are the same” comes into play. Ultimately it is up to you and only you to decide. The amount of stuff you have and how valuable it is to you will dictate whether it’s worth paying extra for moving insurance. What’s more important is that you don’t have regrets, if something does go wrong during the move. And in many ways, it all starts and ends with the moving company you decide to hire.

That’s why it’s crucial to know these things long before the moving day. In today’s blog we wanted to talk about the different aspects of moving protection you should know when choosing a company. We’ll go over some standard moving insurance practices in Canada, what you should and shouldn’t expect from the moving company, and what are some must-haves for the moving company if you are to consider getting a quote from them.

But before you even read any further, consider the following: many home insurance policies in Canada cover your belongings during the move. Homeowners are often told they have to buy coverage through the moving company when in reality, that isn’t so. You may already be covered by your policy if it is classified as “All-Risks”, have the option to expand your policy to cover your stuff under the “Goods-in-transit” clause, or buy moving insurance for a reduced price because you are an existing client. Check with your insurance provider before considering getting insurance from a moving company. Even if it is more expensive or not as good in terms of coverage, you will have a basis for comparison and a ballpark figure for when you are getting quotes from movers.

Moving Insurance vs. Valuation Protection

Many moving companies are quick to throw the term “fully insured” around when trying to secure new customers. This is also common in other types of household services. But while it is used to give the homeowner a sense of safety, the term “fully insured” usually refers to the coverage that the company has got for itself. This can include cargo, liability, or vehicle insurance, but outright does very little to inform the customer about how their stuff is protected and for how much.

This brings us to the next point: a moving company can’t actually sell insurance. It can only be sold by a licensed agent. A mover can only accept responsibility under their insurance’s own coverage. While they can charge deductibles, or put a limit on their own liability, they cannot actually sell you insurance coverage. There are three common types of insurance moving companies have:

  • Full Replacement Value Insurance – this is the most encompassing insurance policy. If anything is lost or damaged, the company must offer to repair the item, reimburse you, or replace the item. If a mover has this insurance, they often limit the liability or don’t insure expensive or high-risk items at all. Keep in mind, the moving company isn’t allowed to charge you for this type of coverage.
  • Market Value – This policy covers your stuff based on a depreciated value of 5-7% per year.
  • Basic or Released Value Insurance – This is the minimum coverage required by law.

Do moving companies in Canada have insurance?

As you may have already guessed, most moving companies in Canada DO NOT offer above-basic (released value) insurance with their standard service. You are still protected under consumer laws, but by law, the moving company is obligated to pay only 60 cents per pound on any damaged goods or belongings. This may be okay if your heavy wooden table gets nicked, but doesn’t fare well for that lightweight flat-screen TV.

This is why moving companies offer additional valuation protection for your household goods for an extra fee. One of the most common additional services you will see to protect your stuff is “replacement value protection.”

What is Replacement Value Protection?

When you purchase replacement value protection, the company agrees to be legally liable up to a higher amount per pound than mandated by law. Suddenly the 60 cents per pound can go as high as $10 per pound of your stuff. Different moving companies have different policies for protection, but with replacement value protection, just like with full-value insurance, the company guarantees to repair, replace, or reimburse you for the damages. There is usually a minimum coverage amount and deductibles that apply.

Besides the obvious monetary benefit of replacement value protection, there is another good upside: peace of mind. Purchasing the replacement value protection takes all the guessing work out of who is responsible in the event of damages occurring, and puts the responsibility directly onto the moving company.

Keep in mind, moving companies don’t offer protection for dangerous goods, or extremely high-value items.

How to find a good moving company that will protect your stuff

We’ve written whole blogs about picking a moving company so in this post we wanted to go over what you should know about picking a company that will keep your stuff protected.

Follow these tips when considering a moving company for a quote:

    • Always make sure the moving company meets the criteria under the Good Practice Guidelines for Canadian Movers. The guidelines are the closest thing to an official document in Canada that governs how a moving business should operate.
    • Ask the company to provide you with their insurance company’s name and policy number, and explain what kind of insurance policy they have.
    • Ask the company to provide you with any material on their Replacement Value Protection. Different companies enforce and charge differently for protection. Seeing the numbers and exactly what a company is willing to be liable for, can go a long way toward picking one company over another.
    • Find out who is liable if you pack your own stuff, versus the mover packing it. Many companies don’t offer any protection on homeowner-packed items, so if you want to guarantee the most safety for your valuable belongings you may have to splurge on a packing service as well.
    • Make sure the mover explains their claims process in detail. It’s important that you know how much time you have to make a claim, what information you are required to provide, and what the steps are.
    • Discuss protection on specialty items. Many moving companies refuse to cover high-value items at the same rates as they do with the regular stuff. Find out how you can protect that piano before it goes sliding down the ramp.

Making a claim on damaged things: what you need to know

Keep in mind, valuation or insurance coverage does not automatically pay for anything. It must be clearly proven that the mover was responsible for the damages. That’s why you will usually still have to make a claim and go through the right process. Another thing to keep in mind: even if you see damage to your stuff you are still legally obligated to pay the full amount for the move. Once you go through the claims process your money will be reimbursed back to you.

Although it differs from company to company, a mover is usually obligated to acknowledge the claim within 14 days, and resolve the matter or offer compensation within 120 days.

Don’t overlook storage insurance

Because moving and storage often go hand in hand, you may want to look into additional protection. If the moving company will be storing your stuff during the move they are responsible for its protection under their insurance or value protection plan.

If you are getting a storage facility or a locker for long-term storage you will have to buy insurance separately for your locker. This can usually be arranged through the storage facility or your insurance company. Storage facilities generally charge between $1-3 per $1000 of declared value in the locker, per month of storage.

By now you should have a better idea of how different aspects of moving insurance and protection work. As you can see there are plenty of options whether you decide to get your own insurance or rely on the moving company’s insurance policy or value protection. Use all these tips when doing your research so you can have a clear understanding of what exactly happens if you go with that company and your things get damaged. Thankfully, with the abundance of moving companies in Canada, it shouldn’t a problem to find a service that best suits your moving needs and budget, and eases the stress of worrying whether all your stuff will get there in one piece.