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First, I realize there is a thread just a few spots below this that talks about movers, but right now I'm primarily interested on people's opinion about moving insurance. I have hired a moving company to move my items from SF to Chicago, and am currently investigating insurance for my items. Are there any caveats regarding insurance for the move? Any suggestions on the best insurance source? And is the insurance even worthwhile, given the deductibles and cost of insurance (i.e. a few hundred bucks for the insurance, plus a few hundred bucks for the deductible). I'd love to hear feedback from anyone who's recently grappled with these questions. Thanks!
FWIW, the sales agent for the moving company I'm using told me that moving insurance tends to be a ripoff. He said you should probably get a policy with a high ($1000+) deductible - which should cost maybe $100 - to cover you in case of possible catastrophic losses (i.e. truck blows up with all your stuff destroyed), but the extra cost of the lower deductibles generally are more than the value of damages. When a salesman tells me something his company is selling is a ripoff, I generally take him at his word.
That said, I'm not shipping much breakable items. If you're moving your priceless crystal and china collections, maybe more insurance is worth it.
It's been a while but here's what I know. If you already have renters'/homeowners insurance, you're covered during the move unless you cancel it before you move. You usually don't even have to notify your insurer. Also, there is a small amount of movers insurance that is usually included with the basic move (something like $0.60/pound), with no deductible, which should cover you for some _small_ freak accident (typically during the move itself, not while your stuff is in the van). Third, you're never covered for whatever breaks inside your boxes if you packed them yourself, unless there are clear mishandling signs on the box itself. This means that if the box looks OK but everything's broken inside, you're not covered regardless of whether you took insurance.
So moral of the story -- you rarely actually need insurance, unless you don't currently have insurance at all (which would likely be much dumber than not taking movers insurance).
As a former mover myself (summer job in high school / college), I can verify that jerz and cabr are on the money with their advice. Yes, moving insurance is largely a ripoff and my boss always loved when customers bought insurance. However, as jerz pointed out, this is usually additional insurance and you get a base level depending on how big (usually by weight) your shipment is. That should be fine for most normal items, but you'll want to avoid (if possible) using the moving company for breakable items (china, glasses) or for highly valuable ones (guitars, Plasma TVs, Picassos, etc.).
If you MUST use the moving company for these things (if you're not driving a car to b-school or if you are moving a great distance), you may want to consider some extra insurance if not already covered by your homeowners insurance. At a minimum, just suck it up and pay the moving company to pack your breakables. As cabro stated, "you're never covered for whatever breaks inside your boxes if you packed them yourself". We called these boxes "PBO"s (packed by owner), and they were [strike]mis[/strike]handled appropriately ...