Insurance Academy

I’m moving. What about my stuff? Part 2.

By Patrick Wraight | July 25, 2018

Last week, we talked about how my move impacts my renters insurance. If you missed that one, you can read it here. We still need to talk about what happens while it’s on the move.

Now that I’m thinking about putting stuff in a vehicle and moving it, it may be time to examine my personal auto policy to see if there is a coverage issue created there. As before, this auto policy is a custom policy that my insurance company published. We’ll start with the definitions section.

“You” and “your” refer to the “named insured” shown on the Declarations and spouse if a resident of the same household.

“Family member” means a person related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption who resides primarily in your household. This includes a ward or foster child.

“Property damage” (referred to as PD)

  1. “Property damage” means physical injury to, destruction of, or loss of use of tangible property.

“Covered person” as used in this Part (liability part) means:

  1. You or any family member for the ownership, maintenance or use of any auto or trailer.
  2. Any person using your covered auto.
  3. Any other person or organization, but only with respect to legal liability imposed on them for the acts or omissions of a person for whom coverage is afforded in 1. or 2. above. With respect to an auto or trailer other than your covered auto, this provision only applies if the other person or organization does not own or hire the auto or trailer.

That’s a lot of policy language, but the definitions set up what we look at later. I figured that most of that was important to our purposes today. Let’s move on to the insuring agreement to find out what the liability portion of the auto policy is going to cover.

INSURING AGREEMENT

We will pay compensatory damages for BI or PD for which any covered person becomes legally liability because of an auto accident…

The rest of the insuring agreement includes duty to defend, and no duty to defend if the suit isn’t covered by the policy. What’s important is this first sentence. It’s a straightforward insuring agreement. Nothing special yet. Since it’s a liability policy, we expect to find an exclusion or two that may apply. We would be right.

EXCLUSIONS

  1. We do not provide Liability Coverage for any covered person:
  2. For PD to property owned or being transported by a covered person.
  3. For PD to property rented to, used by, or in the care of any covered person. This exclusion does not apply to damage to a residence or garage.

I guess that means that there’s no liability coverage for my stuff in my car. Of course there isn’t. We wouldn’t expect for there to be coverage for my property in my car while I’m driving it, or anyone else is driving it. We want to find coverage elsewhere. Does anyone know where? Anyone? Anyone? That’s right. We want to find coverage on a property policy, like my renters policy. But maybe there’s coverage on the property part of my auto policy? We’ll find out soon enough. This auto policy has a definition section for the whole policy, the liability section, and the physical damage section. So let’s go back to the definitions one more time.

“Collision” means the impact with an object and includes upset of a vehicle. Loss caused by the following is covered under Comprehensive Coverage and is not considered collision: fire; missiles or falling objects; hail, water or flood; malicious mischief or vandalism; theft or larceny; riot or civil commotion; explosion or earthquake; contact with bird or animal; windstorm; or breakage of window glass. If breakage of window glass is caused by a collision, you may elect to have it considered a loss caused by collision.

It is kind of fun that this carrier decided to include the definition for comprehensive (what most carriers call “other than collision coverage”) in the definition of collision. I think it makes things easy, but that’s just me. Let’s get to the insuring agreement and see what it has to say.

INSURING AGREEMENT

  1. Comprehensive Coverage (excluding collision).
  2. Physical damage. We will pay for loss caused by other than collision to your covered auto, including its equipment, and personal property contained in your covered auto, minus any applicable deductible shown on the Declarations.
  3. Collision Coverage. We will pay for loss caused by collision to your covered auto, including its equipment, and personal property contained in your covered auto, minus any applicable deductible shown on the Declarations.

Now we’re getting somewhere. It looks so far like the physical damage part of the policy provides us coverage for personal property in the vehicle if it is damaged in an auto accident. That’s great, isn’t it? It is a property policy in this section, which means that it is better suited to provide coverage for my property, rather than the liability section.

Relax, we aren’t done looking through the policy. We have to look for exclusions, limitation, or other coverages still. There’s a limit of liability portion that we need to look at. Maybe that will give us some guidance.

LIMIT OF LIABILITY

  1. Personal property contained in your covered auto. The limits of liability described below are separate from the limits available for a loss to your covered auto.
  2. Our limit of liability under Comprehensive Coverage and Collision Coverage is the lesser of:
    1. The amount necessary to replace the damaged or stolen property; or
    2. $250
  3. We will not take a deduction for depreciation.

Well that puts a damper on the situation, doesn’t it? Not really. I wasn’t really expecting my personal auto policy to pay for stuff that’s already covered somewhere else. You didn’t think that we were going to trust the personal auto policy for this kind of thing, did you? Of course, you didn’t.

In the end, while I’m moving, I know that my stuff is protected.

  1. My renters’ policy is protecting my stuff from the named causes of loss while I go through this process.
  2. My auto policy is protecting my stuff while it’s on the road between places.
  3. I paid for two coverages from the truck rental. I paid for protection for my stuff while it’s in the truck. Even though I may already have coverage through my insurance, I’d rather their insurance company pay to replace my stuff, besides, there’s no deductible. I also paid for damage to the truck and liability on the truck. I know, you think that I could have been indemnified through my own auto insurance for that, but I wouldn’t, and the coverage is cheap. I’d explain more, but you’re ready to move on to something else so I’ll leave it for another day.

One last note for everyone. I have mentioned before that these are specific policies that my insurance company published. Other policies read differently. The final lesson is the same as the full lesson. When you get the question, your first move must be to read the policy. Don’t read a sample policy. Don’t read a similar policy. Don’t read the policy that’s already in your heads/head/heart/on your screen.

Read the actual policy. That’s the only way to make sure that you answer the question that’s being asked, or handling the problem that you face.

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