Guidance and help

Insurance when moving home

There is an often repeated opinion that moving house is one of the most stressful events in a person’s lifetime, whether that is within the UK or overseas. There is no denying that the process is time-consuming and can be difficult, but various steps can be taken to avoid major pitfalls. One simple action to take away some concern is the arranging of adequate insurance for your treasured possessions. It is very unlikely that anything catastrophic will happen during your move, but accidents can and do happen – road crashes happen, ships can founder, and containers can be lost in a storm. Insurance provides that sense of security, just in case and, of course, it is better to be safe than sorry!

When selecting an insurance company two simple conditions are key: who is the provider and what do they cover. Who wants to make a claim against a company that is unknown to common man or is in a third continent.

If you are moving abroad, you should always check what level of cover you are receiving. Three scales are available ranking from ‘A Clauses’ (the highest, “all-risks” coverage) to ‘C’ (the lowest cover, known as “total loss only” or “restricted”).

Whether moving abroad or within the UK, the next consideration is to decide what kind of replacement is desired for items which are harmed or misplaced. “Like-for-like” (reinstatement) simply means that in any claim, wear and tear will be taken into account with its reclaim value based upon the items second-hand market value, which could be negligible. “New for old” (replacement) is for the cost of replacing as a new item without reduction for depreciation on the vast majority of items.

There can be multiple exclusions to a policy including a financial limit for the total valuation, or the percentage of breakable content that is allowable. Ensure that you take note of all such exclusions when choosing the right policy for you. Also make certain that in the instance of absolute loss the maximum limit of the policy covers the total value of the goods. This means that if all of your belongings were destroyed by an accident en route, possibly in store, you would be able to at least claim for the complete value.

When moving abroad, it is best to choose a policy based on a detailed, valued inventory. This can be perceived as an onerous task and a more expensive service, however it is specifically tailored to the individual needs of clients and guarantees better protection in the event of a mishap. The insurance company will charge its premium based on a set rate or at a percentage of the inventory value. This more thorough approach is recommended for those with items which are particularly financially and personally valuable. A bonus is that the pre-prepared detailed inventory often avoids arguments should a claim be necessary and can then be used in negotiations for domestic household insurance in your new country.

Some movers can expand the inventory service to the extent of photographing items of value such as antiques and family heirlooms. It may be the case that a removals company in any case requires a detailed list of fragile and/or high valued belongings in advance of the moving process. To fail to provide such a list may result in a reduced payment in the event of a claim.

The inventory valuation should match directly to the actual values of the pieces included in a shipment to avoid the insurers ‘condition of average’ which reduces claims by the percentage under insured.

When deciding whether or not to pack your own belongings prior to moving, your insurance should be a consideration. Many decide it is worthwhile paying a little extra to have a professional company undertake the packing for various reasons. Goods which are packed by their owner can only be insured against a reduced level of risks. Common damages like breakage, denting and scratching, cannot be covered due to their frequent occurrence through poor packing – this is referred to as owner packed risk. As a consequence, especially when moving abroad, most insurance companies will insist upon a detailed inventory for ‘home-packed’ goods. Security requirements around the world also reduce the possibility of sending goods packed by the owner without causing delays and possible customs inspections, which could also incur additional unexpected cost.

When faced with removals quotes that are difficult to differentiate, a handy hint to help choose the right mover to minimise the risk of damage to your belongings is to ask for their company’s claims record. A remover with a low history of claims will be pleased to provide it for you. More risky companies may be a little more hesitant…

Insurance seems complicated at first but it is worth following common-sense and expert guidelines from professionals to steer clear of the most likely problems. And remember, if a rate seems too good to be true; it often is!