It is important to note, that in most moving situations, state regulations directly affect the question of how to properly insure against loss or damage, on a move. For example, if you are moving across state lines, from one state to another state, federal regulations supersede all other rules and laws in this area.
Licensed movers are required to at least provide, at no cost to the customer, a coverage of 60 cents per pound, per article. However, this is not true insurance in the strict sense of the term, as if there is damage to ones possessions, from the service, one is eligible to file a claim and be reimbursed based on this formula.
So if a refrigerator door gets dented, while it was being moved, and it weighs 150 pounds, the mover would be liable to you, up to $90.00. Good luck getting someone to take out that dent or replace the door, for the amount they are legally liable for.
Movers have other insurance or valuation options, just as the rental car industry does, when the Hertz or Avis people ask you if you want extra coverage for your rental, this is the same thing; valuation protection, and not insurance. It is a distinction that goes beyond the discussion here but some people believe that this distinction allows these industries to avoid having to deal with and comply with relevant and cumbersome insurance regulations.
Most movers will sell you extended coverage, issued by their firm. This is generally backed by a large Cargo or Inland Marine Coverage, with a large deductible. As a result, these transportation firms usually have an in-house “claims department” which, upon notice and filing, can process claims. Some better than others.
If you move from one location in a state, to another location in the same state, federal regulations do not apply, generally, especially when the state has a comprehensive regulatory scheme, for which movers are a licensed sub group. This is the case, in California, and some other western states, but in Arizona, for example,
for years they lacked regulations in this area, as they were a completely deregulated state. In California and in most other states, the federal model is followed, so the minimum no cost coverage of 60 cents per pound per article, is the norm, but it is not anything like full replacement coverage, that we normally talk about in auto and home coverage, subject to a defined deductible. This is also true with most movers, that they will offer different levels of coverage and different deductibles.
There are still other options, as in my firm, Box Brothers, where we perform small long distance moves/shipments, we offer a third party fully authorized insurance policy, for our customers, with varying deductibles, as low as $100.00 up to a deductible of $2500.00, in most cases, and the higher the deductible results in a lower cost of insurance, but makes you assume more of the risk, by taking the higher deductible. Same as in auto insurance.
With the third party model, a customer is asked to fill out a valued inventory form before the move, linking up values for each item and each box to be moved. So all values are scheduled and the mover or shipping firm, has to do a conditioned inventory, so in the event of a claim, one can document the condition of the item, before and after the move. Sometimes, this can be tedious, but given the nature of the task, to prevent actual loss, this is the more careful and detailed way to go.
Yet another option, that I also recommend you look at, is to seek this coverage through your existing
insurance relationship, if you have one. If you have an insurance policy in place, on your home, or on
your business or on your rental, or even if you have life insurance, you have nothing to lose to ask your
firm or agent if they can cover your relocation against loss, and under what costs or terms. Be careful, as
most homeowners have a $500.00 or $1000.00 deductible, and that might not be what you are looking for here, but I have heard that some homeowners policies and some renter insurance policies have some coverage for those who move, but I would check to make sure first. It may be that it would pay to purchase
the renters coverage, if they also picked up the coverage for the move, but again, this is something that
you need to check into, carefully.
There are a lot of good choices but I do recommend that for this question about insurance, you would be
doing your own due diligence here by making sure your choice of transportation firm is not done lightly and
not done only on the basis of price.