For most of us, military life means moving. And moving is an imperfect thing. Whether you move yourself or let the military contract a moving company, things may be damaged or lost or even stolen. (Or the ship could catch on fire.) So, when you're thinking about your move, it's smart to ask yourself, "Does my insurance cover my goods while they are being moved?"
As with so many questions, the short answer is "It depends."
The long answer is that you need to know what is covered under your specific policy.
Everyone should already be carrying homeowners insurance or renters insurance on their personal property. (If you don't own the home you live in, and you don't have renters insurance, just stop reading right now and go find yourself a renters insurance policy. It's cheap, and it should take less than a half of an hour. Seriously. Go do it.)
Before you move, take some time to read over your policy, then call your company to make sure that you understand what you're reading. Every policy is different, and even within the same company, there may be differences in coverage, especially between homeowners and renters policies. For example, Rebekah Nelson at USAA explained that USAA's renters insurance policies include a moving and storage clause that is not included in their homeowners insurance policies.
When reviewing your policy, consider the different types of loss that could occur: damage, missing items, theft of individual items, theft of entire shipments, fire or mold. Some policies may cover some type of loss and not other types of loss. For example, your homeowners policy may cover your items if there is a fire, but may not cover items that are damaged during the move. Your renters insurance may cover theft, but it may not cover mold damage.
You can also choose to purchase separate moving insurance through the many companies that offer such policies. Just as with your homeowners and renters policies, you will want to carefully understand what is and is not covered before deciding to make any purchase.
In most cases, any coverage provided by your private insurance is secondary to the insurance that is provided by the government and/or the transportation service provider. You'll need to make a claim with the government and/or the transportation service provider first, even for a personally procured (Do It Yourself/DITY) move. In theory, most claims should be fully covered by a government contracted mover, but we all know that doesn't always work out the way it is supposed to work.
Moving is a complicated process, and there are lots of ways that things can go wrong. Understanding the different coverages for your household goods, and making sure you have the right coverage, can help soften the blow if there is a loss somewhere along the way. Don't wait until after you have a problem to discover whether you have the right coverage for your unique situation.
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