One of the most frequently asked questions we hear is “are movers insured?” It’s a great question and, as a reputable moving company with the values of honesty and professionalism built into our company DNA, the answer is yes, Rent-a-Son is definitely insured – but that doesn’t mean every fly-by-night moving firm in Toronto is insured. When you’re contacting movers ahead of your big move, here are the questions you need to ask when developing your moving strategy.

Is moving insurance required by law?

Under Ontario law, moving firms must have commercial liability insurance and have a Certificate of Insurance (COI) as proof of their insured status. A mover’s liability insurance provides basic liability coverage that covers 60¢/lb. per item. So, for example, if you have an armoire that weighs 150 pounds, the mover’s commercial liability insurance covers you for $90 in the event that the armoire is damaged due to the mover’s negligence.

At Rent-a-Son, we will gladly provide a copy of our Certificate of Insurance (COI) upon request – something we strongly recommend you request from any moving company you are considering while shopping the market. Better still, ask for everything you and your moving firm have agreed to in writing, either on paper or via email. In the event that one of your possessions is damaged during the move, it helps to have both proof of the coverage and certainty around what you’re entitled to in compensation.

Some movers also choose to offer full-valuation insurance as an add-on expense. Full-valuation goes all the way, providing total coverage and compensation in the event a repair or replacement is required when an item gets lost, damaged or broken. Naturally, this add-on gets tacked on top of your standard moving costs but may be worthwhile if your mover is handling items of great value such as fine china and rare collectibles.

Are you a CAM member?

The CAM, or the Canadian Association of Movers, is Canada’s trade association that represents moving companies. The Association is a not-for-profit and non-regulatory body whose purpose is to help the buying public access credible, professional moving services. CAM members share the common goal of maintaining the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct.

CAM members are not only required to have valid insurance but must have a physical place of business, and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage for their employees, which protects you – the customer – in the event a mover is accidentally injured during the move. Rent-a-Son is a certified member of CAM and we wear our membership proudly on our virtual sleeves – if you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you’ll see our CAM accreditation in the left corner of our website footer.

What’s not covered under moving insurance?

When working through a contract with the moving firm you choose to hire, it’s important that honesty and full disclosure goes both ways. Withholding information about the contents of the cargo being moved from address A to address B can come with some unfortunate consequences to the customer in special cases when an item gets damaged or lost.

If you are packing and moving any perishable, dangerous or hazardous items, it’s important to inform your mover about these items prior to the move. It’s also important to inform your mover in writing if any of the items hold significant value; under transportation law, your mover is not legally responsible for any goods considered to hold “extraordinary value” such as works of art.

Another item category that may not be covered under the mover’s insurance is referred to as “inherent vice.” Sounds scary, but it’s not. Inherent vice refers to items that were meant to be assembled and left in one place for life, such as fibreboard furniture. Maybe it’s time to upgrade all those furnishings you bought in college now that you’re moving up anyway?

Finally, if you are packing and boxing any items yourself, the contents may not be covered if the damage can be attributed to your own packing deficiencies. For example, if you’ve packed all your breakable tableware together in a cardboard box without using protective materials such as bubblewrap or newsprint to help maintain the safety of your tableware, the mover can point to your own negligence in having caused the breakage.

What does home insurance cover?

A lot of individuals and families choose to move in stages, managing the move gradually over a few days or even a couple of weeks. The good news is that most home insurance policies typically cover both your old and new homes for 30 days, including the contents within both homes. Coverage on the new home begins the moment the first item or box leaves address A and crosses the threshold into address B.

However, it’s important to let your insurance company know that you’re moving. Make sure to tell them 30 to 60 days prior to your moving date. Every home insurance policy is different, with your coverage and premium directly related to the characteristics of your home. Often, a new home means a change in dynamics such as a couple moving in together and making new purchases or, conversely, fewer people and thus fewer belongings. Your future home insurance policy needs to take all these variables into consideration.

What if you’re handling the move yourself?

A DIY move always seems like an easy way to save money, but not only do you need to ask your friends for favours but moving everything yourself also comes with a new set of inherent risks. First of all, you’ll need to rent a moving van or truck which will need to be insured. Your options are to take out the insurance offered by the rental company or to call your auto insurer and have your moving vehicle added to your policy.

Another risk to keep in mind is in the event one of those good friends gets injured during the move. You’d hate to see them accidentally fall down a flight of stairs and break a leg. Now, what if, as a result of the accident, that friend is not able to work for a couple of months and provide an income for their family? Better hope you have civil liability coverage, otherwise things could get (ahem) uncomfortable for both of you. Lastly, what if a friend drops and breaks your $1,000 TV? Better hope you have “all risks” or “named perils” coverage!

The honest truth Whether you’re hiring movers or using friends, insurance should always be a big part of your moving strategy. The items in your home have enormous value and mean too much to risk making a move without insurance. The avenue of least risk and greatest peace-of-mind is to use professional movers and offer full disclosure on the nature and value of the goods being moved. Make sure the firm you select is, like Rent-a-Son, an accredited CAM member. And purchase any additional “top-up” insurance you think is necessary relative to your risk. It’s the best way to ensure your move goes smoothly.