Moving house can be stressful and chaotic so it’s often easy to forget about your insurance. But without adequate cover when moving home you risk having your claim denied if your belongings are damaged or stolen.
We spoke to Darren Eadie, former professional footballer and owner of specialist relocations company, Elite Fortress, to discuss the insurance implications of using a removals company. So, to ensure your home contents and possessions are properly covered during your house move here’s what to consider.
- What home insurance do you need when you move?
- Does home insurance already cover moving house?
- When should you buy home insurance when moving?
- What should you look for in your insurance policy?
- Do you need to buy home insurance from your existing provider?
- What happens if you’re responsible for both homes at the same time?
- Does moving house insurance cover DIY removals?
- When should you cancel your old home insurance?
- Why you should review your home insurance when you move house.
If you’re moving to a property you’ve bought it’s a good idea to have buildings insurance in place prior to your move. This ensures you’re covered if something happens to the structure of your new home before you move. As the buyer it is your responsibility to ensure you have buildings insurance in place once you have exchanged. You may also want to consider taking out contents insurance with ‘goods in transit’ to ensure your possessions are covered during your move. Normally for this cover to be valid the move needs to be completed by a professional remover. If you are DIY’ing a move you may need to seek out a specialist policy.
If you’re renting and moving into a new property, you’ll only need contents cover for your possessions as the landlord is responsible for insuring the building. The landlord is also responsible for insuring any furniture they provide.
If you’re moving to a leasehold property, the chances are the freeholder will arrange the buildings insurance with the cost normally being recouped through service charges. You would still need to insure your contents.
Read more: What is index-linked buildings insurance?
Although around three-quarters of home insurers provide contents cover for house moves completed by a professional as part of a standard policy, you shouldn’t assume that yours does. Check your policy documents to see if you are covered. Often, it falls under the heading ‘contents in transit’, ‘goods in transit’ or ‘contents temporarily removed’.
Darren advised ‘It’s not always easier to do it yourself. If the worst was to happen and you accidentally damaged a piece of furniture, you would be left to pay what could be a costly bill for a repair or replacing the item. By using a professional remover, you can rely on their experience and knowledge to make sure all your possessions are safe and well looked after – plus it’s inevitably less stressful! You wouldn’t repair your car yourself; you’d use a qualified mechanic. So why wouldn’t you use a professional relocations company?’
By using a professional remover, you can rely on their experience and knowledge to make sure all your possessions are safe and well looked after.
Your removal company will likely have a haulage policy which includes goods in their care. However, it will have a limit to what it pays which will vary depending on the policy and is unlikely to cover the total of your possessions, especially any particularly expensive items. As previously mentioned, most home insurance policies will include ‘goods in transit’ which would provide cover for when you are moving home using a removals firm.
In the unfortunate event of damage or a breakage during your move, you would be liable to claim on your home insurance policy if you were unable to apportion blame to the removals firm, or their limits were not high enough to cover the item in question. If you have claimed on your own policy, in some instances your insurer may choose to pursue the removal company for causing an insurance loss, this is termed as ‘subrogation’.
If you’re buying a property, you’ll need to arrange buildings insurance for when you exchange contracts.
Organising insurance for a home you’re not yet living in might seem strange but when you exchange you become legally responsible for your new property. If you aren’t insured and something unexpected happens, even before you move into the property, you’d be responsible for covering the cost of repairs.
If you’ve got a mortgage your lender could also insist you have buildings insurance in place at the point of exchange.
If you are using a professional removals firm for your move, you should arrange contents cover for the day before you move and check that it covers ‘goods in transit’. It is important to note that you will not be covered under your own contents policy for a DIY removal, as once your possessions leave your property boundary they are no longer insured. Therefore, to ensure you are covered all round when moving, using a professional remover can pay off in more ways than one.
Your buildings cover will protect you for standard risks such as fire, flood, and vandalism. If you’re not moving in for a while and your new home is likely to be empty you should check with your insurer to see what cover is available from your regular policy. Depending on the outcome of this you may need to take out a specific unoccupied home insurance policy.
If your home contents cover includes goods in transit it should also compensate you against fairly standard risks, including theft and damage. However, most insurers will stipulate that you must use a professional removals firm for your policy to be valid.
Your insurer might also have other conditions and exclusions in place, for example:
- Your contents must be packed by the removals firm.
- Valuable items or documents (passports, legal papers) may only be covered in transit if they’re packed by you and travel with you to your new home.
Moving home is a logistical task which may not always go to plan. When you go through your policy it’s a good idea to also think about:
Not all policies will cover items in storage, and if they do there might be a limit on how long for, so make sure this reflects your needs.
High risk items
This includes items like bicycles and musical instruments (especially heavy or fragile objects like pianos or cellos). If you’ve got goods in transit cover make sure these are specifically named under the policy, check the limit is adequate and remember that this will only pay compensation if you use a professional remover.
If you are using a professional removal company it is your responsibility to ensure that they are also adequately covered for your move, as Darren explains ‘Most removals companies will provide a standard sum insured limit of £10,000, but this is unlikely to cover the cost of replacing all your possessions if it was necessary. Don’t assume that the standard limit is enough, especially if you have high-value items like jewellery, artwork, or family heirlooms. You’ll normally find that the cost of a higher level of cover isn’t extortionate, so it’s worth speaking to your remover to discuss your options.’
Any single item limits
This is the maximum amount of money you’ll receive for any one item if you make a claim. Check the amount is high enough to cover your most expensive item.
Per box limits
Instead of a single item limit there may be a maximum value per packing box so ensure the contents don’t exceed this.
Limitations and exclusions
Always check what exclusions there are, for example, some insurers don’t automatically include fire damage.
House moves can be thrown off course for all sorts of reasons. Be sure to inform your insurer of any delays so that they can adjust the cover required for the property.
You don’t have to buy insurance for your new home from your existing provider. However, it’s often easier, particularly for contents cover as you’ll already have a sum insured agreed. Most insurers will be able to carry over or transfer your existing buildings and contents policy to your new home when you exchange.
In some cases you might end up responsible for both your new and your old home at the same time. If that happens you’ll need to make sure you have adequate buildings insurance for both properties. You can arrange this with either a new provider or your existing insurer.
Typically, contents insurance won’t cover DIY removals or a ‘man with a van’. It means that if you decide to transport your own contents you won’t be compensated if they’re damaged on the journey between your old and new home.
With that in mind, although hiring professional removers is likely to be more expensive than doing it yourself it could save you considerably more in the event of a claim.
If you haven’t transferred your existing policy to your new home you can cancel your old home insurance when you’re no longer financially responsible for the property.
When your move is complete it’s a good time to take stock of your home contents and check whether you’ve got the right level of cover. Particularly if you buy new items to kit out your home.
These new additions might take the value of your contents to more than your current sum insured. If that happens you could find yourself underinsured. Ultimately, that means you could receive considerably less than you’d need to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your possessions.
Home insurance to suit you.
At Alan Boswell Group, we know that there’s no such thing as one size fits all. That’s why we prefer to take a tailored approach to home insurance which ensures you get the policy you need to protect your most valuable asset. To find out more about how we can help with buildings and contents cover and the other home insurance services we provide, speak to a member of the team on 01603 649650.
Darren Eadie made his name as a star midfielder for Norwich City from 1993 – 1999, before moving to Leicester City. Having retired from playing himself in 2003, Darren is now co-manager of Leiston football club. Darren has spent years working with professional footballers, celebrities, and high-net worth individuals and from this came the birth of Elite Fortress in 2020, a specialist relocations company. Partnering with Stuart McBurney, Elite Fortress has over 25 years’ experience in specialist relocations and supply a service that is built on discretion, care and providing clients with peace of mind.