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International Moving Insurance

You have probably put a lot of time into considering your international relocation. If you are preparing for your move, a relocation specialist or logistics teams have probably already been in contact with you many times. By now, you know that you should probably purchase insurance.

It is common knowledge that self-insuring against certain losses may be more economical than buying insurance from a third party, even so, we offer several options for insurance coverage for our client convenience. Which one best meets the needs of your family’s overseas shipment? This document will list what you must know about these different international moving insurance options. We hope that it will help you make the best relocation insurance decision.

Today’s international shipping industry is highly automated and technologically advanced. Ports are being deepened around the world to accommodate even larger ships.

The biggest ships can carry 35,000 shipping containers per voyage, often stacked 20 high on the ship’s deck. Amazingly, these ships can load and unload containers, rearrange them for the next port and then travel to the next port all in the same day.

Everything is automated, and the largest ships have but a skeleton crew. You would be forgiven if you thought nothing goes wrong.

Unfortunately, we all have had experience with something going wrong: packages lost in the mail, luggage not making it off the plane. It is uncommon, but containers get lost.

Occasionally, entire stacks of containers fall into the sea. In some countries with perpetual labor problems, unionized dockworkers might intentionally “lose” containers as part of a labor action. In other cases, of mechanical problems or technical failures, large numbers of containers or their contents will be damaged.

You would think that the shipping companies themselves would insure against loss. They don’t. Unfortunately, there is no real recourse for the small client, the owner of the contents of one of the hundreds of containers damaged at a time.

International Moving Insurance: Total Loss Insurance

There are two main types of insurance, against damage to your cargo and against total loss.

Total loss coverage will keep you covered completely if your entire shipment is destroyed or lost. For instance, if a stack of containers collapses, you would be covered for the declared value of your belongings. 

For all insurance programs, you will have to include a detailed list of the insured items. When your shipment is loaded by the movers, an inventory list will be made for you. While this list is critical for customs clearance, it is not necessarily suitable for insurance purposes, where you need to give a detailed list of insured items.

If you are including particularly valuable items in your list, it might be necessary to provide either a sales receipt or an estimator’s valuation. Also, you don’t necessarily want to insure your entire shipment, it is entirely at your own discretion. 

Total loss insurance is typically less than expensive than insuring against any risks. The policy usually covers either the entire loss or nothing.

All Risk Cargo Insurance

If you order all-risk cargo insurance you are covered for not only total loss but also for damages to part of your shipment. It is important that the International Shipping company goes to great lengths in making sure that your cargo arrives undamaged to your new home.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to promise this. Whether you are sending a private container or are sending a less than full container load (LCL) either through a consolidation service or using groupage consolidations, your personal belongings are handled several times. In some countries, even if you send a private container, it may have to be unloaded and transferred to moving vans for final delivery.

Also, 5% of shipping containers are subject to manual inspection. Usually, this inspection is random, but sometimes an inspection may be caused by improper paperwork or the inclusion of suspicious items on the shipping inventory. In such cases, your belongings are handled extra times.

Other things that could cause extra handling are storage and small vans for locations where moving trucks have difficult access. Each time your things are handled, there is the potential for damage to them.

With total loss insurance, either your entire cargo is covered, or none of it is. If you have one or two items that are damaged, or a missing box or two, these will be covered using all-risk cargo insurance, but not with only a total loss policy.

One more thing that you have to keep in mind is that in order to purchase all-risk cargo insurance, you will have to have professional packers prepare your shipment. If you want your shipment protected against damage, you will have to let us do the preparations. You will still be able to purchase a total loss insurance policy if you decide to pack your shipment by yourself.

Automobiles, motorcycles and other licensed vehicles also need to be insured. There is a variety of methods with which we can send your vehicle. Your relocation specialist will help you figure out the most effective method for you. If your vehicle is being sent in your shipping container, then, like other valuables, it has to be secured by moving professionals. As placing a car requires a special lift to get the car into the container, this should not be a problem. Sometimes people send just a car. It is also common to send full-sized pickup trucks, RVs, and even boats that are sent on their trailers. Those will be sent using a method known as RO-RO, or roll on roll off. When a vehicle is sent using this method it should be insured individually.

International Moving Insurance Policies

You are probably used to American insurance policies. In the United States, insurance is governed at the state level. Unfortunately, your no insurance you purchase will cover damage on an international shipment. We hope that there is no damage to your shipment, but if it will occur, we have no idea where it will happen.

The international moving insurance policy that you buy must be truly international. There are special providers of marine cargo insurance that sell you a policy through the international shipping company, as they don’t sell directly to consumers.

One of the advantages of this policy is that you can be reimbursed for the value of damaged or lost items at the destination. If you are sending a six-month-old Toyota Highlander Hybrid to Belgium, you will want to insure it for the replacement cost in Belgium, not the cost in California. When you fill in your insurance forms, try to keep in mind that many things in foreign countries will cost more than they do in the United States, it is one of the reasons why you have chosen to make an international shipment.

Be careful with policies that sound too cheap as they will often insure you for only a portion of the move. True international moving insurance policies will provide your shipment with full insurance coverage from door to door, against loss, against damage, against the weather.

Remember that your insurance policy is only as good as it is accurate. You can only insure things that are legal to send to your destination country, the valuations need to be reasonable.

We hope that our customers will have no need to ever activate their insurance policy. On the rare occasion when it is necessary, we want our clients to have the best coverage available.

Written by Andrew Michaels – Shipping Insurance Specialist, published: Jul 31, 2018

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