Home insurance when you have two addresses

It's common to tackle a move gradually, starting a few days or weeks before the official moving date. It gives you a chance to do a little cleaning, add a fresh lick of paint and make a start on moving those boxes. But will your belongings be covered at your new place, or do you need to notify your insurer?

The first thing you need to know is that home insurance policies will normally cover both your old and new home for 30 days. As soon as you move your first box from address A to address B, your belongings are automatically covered at both addresses.

However, you must still tell your insurer that you're moving. You should notify them 30 to 60 days before your planned moving date. This is because your insurance is closely linked to the characteristics of your home. A new home can often mean a change in situation, too: a couple moving in together and making new purchases, or, conversely, fewer insureds and belongings. Your insurance will be transferred to your new home and updated to take account of any changes. You will still keep the same policy, so there's no need to start over.

Your insurance company will analyze your new situation and update your coverage accordingly. If your belongings will be divided between two properties for more than 30 days, make sure you're covered by contacting your insurer. The insurer will modify the terms of your insurance policy, or sometimes simply add a note to your file.

What if you're purchasing a new home? You might sign at the notary two months before moving in and only sell your current home three months later. If you find yourself responsible for two properties at the same time, it's important to update your home insurance policy to reflect this situation.

A do-it-yourself move

So you've decided to move your belongings yourself, inviting your friends to help out with the promise of a celebratory barbecue when it's all over. You're sure to save money on moving costs, but will you be covered if something goes wrong?

First off, you'll need to rent a truck. How are you going to insure it? You have two main choices: take out the insurance offered by the rental company, or call your auto insurer and add endorsement 27 to your policy.

This provides coverage for rented or borrowed vehicles. You can decide on the deductible and amount of coverage with your insurer, but it must cover the value of the rental truck.

If something happens to the truck, you can claim on your auto insurance as if it were your own vehicle.

If you don't have a lot of stuff to move and a trailer is enough, make sure you have the coverage you need.

Now, what happens if one of your friends falls down the stairs and is injured while helping you move? This is where your civil liability coverage comes into play. And what if he drops your TV when he falls? It all depends on what kind of coverage you have.

Do you have all risks or named perils coverage? Your smashed TV will be covered if you have an all risks policy, but not if you have a named perils policy. The same applies if you accidentally spill a gallon of paint on your sofa; whether you're covered or not depends on your policy. To find out what coverage you have, refer to your insurance policy or, better yet, contact your insurer.

Moving companies and insurance

So you've decided to spare your friends, don't want to deal with the hassle of moving or simply prefer to use professionals... Moving companies are there to make your move as stress-free as possible.

Depending on the options you choose, your movers can simply transport your belongings from A to B, or they can take charge of your packing too, leaving you with almost nothing to do.

The first step is to choose the right moving company. By following a few simple rules, you can prevent your move from turning into a nightmare. Obviously, one of the rules is to find out what insurance coverage the company has.

Some movers offer basic coverage based on the weight of your belongings. In the event of loss or damage, a mover's basic liability is $0.60 per pound. So whether it's your TV or stamp collection that is damaged, the coverage will be the same (even if the value of your stamps is hard to measure in weight).

Sometimes you can opt for additional coverage. This will cover you per pound, depending on the mover. You can also choose a higher amount, still based on weight. However, the coverage cannot exceed the actual value of your belongings.

For this insurance to apply, you have to follow certain rules, which can vary from one mover to another. Some movers will not insure anything that you have packed yourself, others will provide you with packing instructions. Ready-to-assemble furniture (of the Swedish big-box store type) is not usually covered unless it is disassembled.

Ask for a copy of the insurance policies before choosing your moving company. On moving day, inspect the condition of your belongings with the mover before and after the move, and make sure you agree on how many boxes there are, to be sure that nothing is lost en route.

In the event of damage, the moving company's insurance takes priority, but your home insurance comes into play if the damage is beyond the scope of the mover's coverage. The normal terms of your insurance policy apply.

Are your planning a move soon? Don't waste any time. Contact your insurer to find out about your coverage under your current policy and any changes you might need to move with peace of mind.