Things Movers Won’t Insure (and Why)

When moving to a new place, you’re likely thinking about packing and cleaning instead of insurance. We recommend learning about what movers won’t insure so you’re not left hanging.

Moving companies have good reason to be cautious when it comes to insurance. Nearly 30 million Americans move every year, which creates a lot of potential for accidents! While moving companies usually have lists of items they won’t move, they also have a list of items they won’t insure.

We’ll break down moving company insurance, items that usually aren’t covered, and which options will be best for your move.

What kind of coverage do movers offer?

You should start considering moving insurance options early — around the same time you explore moving options or use a moving cost calculator. The last thing you want is to be caught in a bad spot with incompatible coverage.

Moving companies offer two kinds of insurance: released value protection and full-value protection. We’ll also explore extra options like separate liability insurance and expanded moving insurance coverage.

Released value protection for low-cost and easily replaced items

Released value protection is the standard moving insurance your moving company will provide you. The costs associated with this moving insurance are already covered by your moving expenses and will show up on your bill of lading.

Released value protection is ideal for low-cost and easily replaced items due to the limited amount of coverage provided. For example, the standard coverage is .30 cents per pound for intrastate moves and .60 cents per pound for interstate moves. For example, if a 50-pound table was damaged on your move, your mover would multiply its weight by either .30 or .60 depending on your move type.

On an interstate move, you’d be reimbursed $30, while reimbursement would be just $15 on an intrastate move. If you feel this amount would be suitable to buy a replacement for affordable, everyday items, released value protection is a solid choice.

Full-value protection for rarer and more expensive items

What happens when you have an expensive coffee table you’ve saved up for? Released value protection may not be enough to give you financial reimbursement. Enter full-value protection.

This moving insurance is more expensive, but it’s a fantastic choice for your rarer and more expensive items. This resource will give you several choices in the event of damaged or missing items:

  • Get repair services to fix your item
  • Replace the item with a similar one
  • Receive a cash settlement that lines up with the current market value of the item

However, keep in mind that not all items will qualify for full-value protection. You also need to properly photograph your belongings in case they’re already a little worn or damaged since you don’t want movers getting worried about their liability.

Separate liability insurance

This third option is helpful if you want even more control over the safety and reimbursement potential of your belongings. Third-party companies offer this liability insurance and some moving companies also offer this as an added service. The best interstate moving companies today offer several moving insurance options to give you the best possible experience.

Company Quote Rating Price
Safeway Moving
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starstarstarstarstar 4.5 / 5
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American Van Lines
American Van Lines
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starstarstarstarstar 4.5 / 5
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Mayzlin Relocation
Mayzlin Relocation
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starstarstarstarstar 4.45 / 5
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Separate liability insurance is usually regulated by the state it’s offered in, ensuring local laws are followed to the T. If you choose this type of insurance, make sure you’re provided a copy of the insurance policy. This document will protect you in the event of company negligence. Be sure to read the fine print so you know what is covered and what isn’t.

How do I get full-value protection for high-value items?

If you have high-value items that are more expensive than average, you may be worried if full-value protection will cover you. These items are sometimes referred to as ‘items of extraordinary value’ and need to be worth more than $100 per pound.

Common high-value items include the following:

Receiving the proper amount of coverage for your high-value items involves recording each item on the moving manifest provided to all parties. If you don’t record how expensive your item is, you won’t be reimbursed. Moving companies are usually able to accommodate high-value items with proper documentation and preparation, but it’s a good idea to ask beforehand.

What are some things and situations that movers won’t insure?

Knowing what movers won’t move and what movers won’t insure will save you a huge headache down the road. Movers are keen on providing you with a positive experience, which means they sometimes have to turn down certain items for everyone’s sanity.

Movers have items they won’t move under moving insurance and items they will move, but not insure. Let’s take a look at the latter.

Self-packed items

Movers will not be held legally liable for items you pack yourself. Since they need to have a good idea of what’s inside each package, self-packed items are under your protection and discretion.

If you want several services in one, consider a moving company that also offers packing services.

Natural disasters

If a natural disaster hits and destroys your items, any valuation insurance you’ve applied for won’t be able to provide insurance.

A few natural disasters that could cause you to lose your items include:

  • Heavy hail
  • Windstorms
  • Tsunami
  • Fire
  • Earthquake

Household pets

Movers are hesitant to insure your cat, dog, or bird because of the sheer complexity needed to keep them safe.

Not only do pets require extra handling compared to furniture, they also require their own insurance coverage. The moving process is notoriously difficult on pet health and things like heat stroke can pose real problems.

Negligent acts

It’s impossible for moving companies to anticipate every hurdle in the road. If you neglect your items for any reason, moving companies generally will not cover you.

Acts of negligence include:

  • Forgetting to tell them about a fragile item
  • Giving them the wrong weight for an item under released-value protection

Live plants

Plants are already tricky to move since you could accidentally transport incompatible flora into areas where they are banned or restricted. This is especially concerning if your move involves crossing state lines with fruit trees and vegetable plants. That’s because many states limit imports to protect local agriculture from disease. Since live plants need careful tending and could be damaged on the way to your new home, movers won’t offer insurance.

Storage facilities

Do you need a shipping container to hold your items? Your moving insurance company won’t be able to provide you coverage if your items become damaged or stolen in self-storage.

Fortunately, storage facility companies have several insurance options you can purchase directly from them.


Looking for help picking the right insurer? Check out our reviews on third-party moving insurance providers.

How do I choose the right moving insurance?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by choice fatigue, we have a few tips to narrow things down.

Estimate the total value of your belongings

Before you even start browsing for moving insurance, sum up the total of all the items you want to move. Separate each group of items by function, such as clothes, furniture, or jewelry.

Take clear photos, save a backup of said photos in the cloud, and consider short videos for high-value items. During this stage, you should also take note of details such as:

  • Damage
  • Rarity
  • Personal significance

Compare the differences between the two most common moving insurance options

Consider if released value protection or full-value protection will suit your needs. Since these moving insurance options are common and relatively simple, your research may end here.

If these options are inadequate, move on to expanded moving insurance coverage or reach out to a third party for separate liability insurance.

Double-check with your moving company

Always double-check to see if your moving company offers the insurance and coverage you want. Each business is still unique and may have exceptions that other businesses do not.

What are the most common items to get lost during transit?

Another way to narrow down the best moving insurance for your needs is by covering commonly lost items. While it’s unlikely you’ll lose an entire mattress or boat during the move, smaller items are another story. here we’ll discuss some of the most commonly lost items.

Clothing and accessories

Do you have a lot of shoes, socks, belts, jewelry, or hats? Clothing and accessories are often lost in transit due to their small size and tendency to be tossed into boxes without much organization.


Jewelry’s small size, fragility, and wide range of value make it a tricky item to move at the best of times. Make sure your jewelry is carefully packed using packing paper, newspaper, or packing peanuts to keep it from being damaged.

If you’re worried about precious jewelry being stolen, consider one of the more expanded moving insurance options.

Everyday knick-knacks

Are you the type of person who regularly misplaces your reading glasses? Knick-knacks tend to become lost in transit, especially if you have a lot of them.

When moving to a new place, make notes on your phone or practice extra discretion when it comes to items like:

  • Reading glasses
  • Watches
  • Purses and wallets
  • Spare keys
  • Headphones

Should I get expanded moving insurance coverage?

Expanded moving insurance coverage is rather rare: movers usually choose expanded moving insurance coverage if they expect damages during shipment.

This type of moving insurance is highly specific, allowing you to determine a specific amount per pound for your valuable items. If your movers damaged or lost the majority of your shipment, you would receive a larger payout than if you went with the previous moving insurance options.

If you feel the need to have extra coverage, ask your moving company if they provide expanded moving insurance. You will then be asked to provide a total amount regardless of the weight of your belongings.

What should you do if you want to move an item that is not insured?

Most items and situations will have at least some valuation coverage provided by your moving insurance company. If you have a very unique situation where they cannot cover you, consider a third-party insurance company for expanded moving insurance coverage.

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