Insurance Academy

I’m moving. What happens if my stuff gets damaged?

By Patrick Wraight | July 18, 2018

It’s moving week. That’s right. We are taking on the monumental task of moving our home. This isn’t new to my family. My wife and I have been married over 25 years and haven’t lived in one house for longer than four years. We have learned a lot in all of these moves. It took me getting deeply nerdy in insurance to know how my moves and insurance intersect.

Usually when I write about coverage specifics I let you know up front that we’re analyzing the current ISO form. For today’s article, I’m going to deviate from that pattern and I’m going to analyze my own personal auto policy and renters’ policy. That’s right. I’m looking at the carrier specific policies that I have on my stuff.

How does my move work with my insurance policies?

Let’s look first at my renters’ policy. You may note that I didn’t call it a HO-4 Tenant’s Contents Policy. That’s because that’s not what it is. It is my insurance company’s custom Renters Protection Policy, Florida edition. Where do we start? Julie Andrews would tell us to start, “… at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.”

“insured location” means:

  1. If your principal place of residence:
  2. A one to four family residence; or
  3. That part of any other building where you reside;
  4. The part of other premises, other structures and grounds used by you as another residence;
  5. Any premises used by you in connection with a or b above;
  6. Any part of a premises:
  7. Not owned by an insured; and
  8. Where an insured is temporarily residing;

There’s more, but it isn’t relevant to what we need. Did you notice that this definition of an insured location is a little unusual? This highlights the need to read all policies so that you know where the differences exist.

Let’s see how this definition applies to my personal property.

PROPERTY COVERED: Subject to the PROPERTY NOT COVERED provisions of this policy, we cover all personal property, anywhere in the world, owned by: any insured; someone else when it is at your residence or in your custody.

I guess it doesn’t really apply. That must be important when we look at the liability section (which we aren’t doing today). According to the insuring agreement, there’s coverage for my stuff wherever it is. That’s a good thing for me since I’ve been moving property to a temporary house to cover the space between the end of this lease and the closing date on the new house. Let’s start looking for exclusions that might apply to my stuff.

This particular renters policy is a named perils policy so I’ll list the covered causes of loss without explanation here: FIRE AND LIGHTNING, WINDSTORM OR HAIL, FLOOD AND WATER, EARTHQUAKE, EXPLOSION, SMOKE, AIRCRAFT, VEHICLES, COLLAPSE OF BUILDING, THEFT, VANDALISM AND MALICIOUS MISCHIEF, RIOT AND CIVIL COMMOTION, FALLING OBJECTS, SUDDEN AND ACCIDENTAL TEARING APART, CRACKING, BURNING OR BULGING, FREEZING, SUDDEN AND ACCIDENTAL DAMAGE FROM ARTIFICIALLY GENERATED ELECTRICAL CURRENT, and VOLCANIC ERUPTION.

In all, there are 17 named covered causes of loss. You may have noticed that flood appears to be covered on this policy. You want to know if there is further detail? There is. I just don’t think we have space today to get into it. Maybe later. For now, let’s keep looking for exclusions or other coverage provisions that might address moving my stuff to a new home. I found an additional coverage that might be interesting to us.

MOVING AND STORAGE:

  1. begins when your property passes into the custody of a public carrier, including United States government trucks, aircraft and vessels, or a storage facility. Your property must be under a bill of lading, a mover’s contract, baggage check, or other form of shipping or storage document.

This coverage ends:

  1. when your property is delivered to your permanent or temporary address in accordance with the shipping document
  2. or when you take possession of your property from storage.
  3. provides coverage, in addition to the previously described CAUSES OF LOSS COVERED there is coverage under MOVING AND STORAGE for:
  4. Loss of your property if, when described under a bill of lading, mover’s contract, baggage check, or other form of shipping or storage document, it cannot be located after a reasonable search.
  5. Loss or damage caused by the stranding, sinking, overturning, crashing, ditching, derailment, burning or collision of a public conveyance.
  6. Loss or damage caused by water, except as excluded in C. below.
  7. Your share of a general average and salvage charges. These charges do not change the amount shown on the Declarations Page for PERSONAL PROPERTY.
  8. We will not cover loss or damage caused by:
  9. Breakage, marring, scratching or handling.
  10. Delay during shipment.
  11. Humidity or temperature changes.
  12. Mildew and mold.
  13. Inherent defect of the property.
  14. Insufficient packing or address.
  15. Insects, rodents and vermin.

That looks interesting, doesn’t it? This might apply if I were paying someone to move my stuff. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this applies to my move. I’m moving my own stuff. The first in this additional coverage appears when it tells us that moving and storage starts when I no longer have custody of my property, but have passed it over to another entity for the purpose of moving it. Maybe I should have paid someone to move my stuff.

Looking at the conditions section, I found something that we need to consider under the other insurance provision.

OTHER INSURANCE

  1. If, at the time of loss:
    1. There is trip transit coverage in force, or
    2. There is coverage provided under our Personal Computer Endorsement

then this policy will apply only when that coverage has been exhausted.

That’s it. OK, that’s not the whole policy because we haven’t dealt with the liability section, but to be honest, I didn’t think we needed to because I’m concerned about my stuff, but what I do. No. I didn’t skip the exclusions section. There isn’t one. So what did we learn. We learned that I should have paid someone to move my stuff. It would have meant less work and broader coverage.

Is my property covered? Yes. Except for property not covered, I have coverage for my property anywhere. That’s what the insuring agreement said. So my stuff, even though it is spread out among three buildings and a vehicle right now, is covered for the covered causes of loss.

Since there is no exclusion for my property in my vehicle, we may have coverage if anything happens to it while it’s packed in my car, the friend’s truck that I borrow, or the truck that I rent. Actually, there is coverage for damage caused by a vehicle. It’s listed as a covered cause of loss.

So far I don’t see anything that excludes coverage for my stuff while I’m moving, which is a good thing because we all know that moving property increases the risk of damage, loss, theft, or destruction. I did see that there is an other insurance clause that mentioned trip transit coverage, which makes this policy excess. Since I’m renting a moving truck, I did purchase coverage for my stuff while it’s in transit in the moving truck. That limit is high enough to make my renters policy untouchable while my stuff is in the truck.

Next week, we’ll talk about how my personal auto policy is going to handle this.

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