International moving guide: Quotes, movers and insurance

24 January 2013, by
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Once you’ve received at least three quotes from reputable movers, you have the important task of comparing them. Each quote may include or exclude different things and a cheaper quote may just be offering a lower level of service than a more expensive one.

Here are some questions to ask yourself (or the mover) as you review the quotes:
Are packing and packing materials included? (Not applicable if you choose to pack yourself)
Are any costs around Customs clearance included?
Is temporary storage at destination included in the event you don’t have a permanent home yet?
Are terminal handling charges included? (This can be a big cost).
Are costs for a quarantine inspection included? (This cost is generally not in quotes since it can vary).
Does the price include unpacking at your destination and removal of packing materials?
Will you be charged for demurrage? (Demurrage is when a ship takes longer to unload the cargo than allowed and gets hit with additional charges by the port).
Is there any paperwork preparation not included?

It’s always a good idea to send any questions via email so you have a response in writing. If an issue does arise at some point and you don’t have it in writing, it will be more difficult to argue your case.

And as mentioned in other sections of this international moving guide, price isn’t everything. It’s important to go with a reputable company that you feel comfortable with.

Once you’ve compared quotes you should be able to confidently select a mover. You’ll likely need to pay a deposit to lock in the quote, but this shouldn’t be more than 10 percent of the total quote amount. On international moves, you pay the full amount prior to your goods being shipped out of the country.

Generally, after the movers collect your stuff, they’ll take it back to their warehouse to be measured or weighed and then provide you with the final price. You can, if you wish, go to the warehouse to observe this process.

There’s one important thing you need to do before the movers arrive at your house to pick up your stuff: get insured. A lot can happen when moving across hundreds or thousands of kilometres: glassware can break, a box gets lost, upholstery gets torn.

Most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies won’t cover damage incurred during an international move. Still, it’s worth checking with your provider and if they say it is covered, make sure you get it in writing.

If you’re not covered by an existing policy, you’ll need to get insurance. There are two types of insurance you can get: Total Loss Insurance and All Risk Insurance.

Total Loss is cheaper but only provides compensation if your shipment is, as the name implies, totally lost. This means if the warehouse catches fire and all your stuff goes up in flames, or is stolen, you’ll be covered. If a mirror breaks during the move it’s not covered. If you pack up your own things you can generally only get this type of insurance.

moving house
Photo by Flickr user Victor1558

All Risk is the more comprehensive option since it covers you both for total loss and individual items. So in the event a mirror breaks you are covered. Some insurers will specifically exclude certain items or certain types of damage from coverage, so make sure you read the fine print.

Most movers will refer you to a preferred provider, but it’s a good idea to shop around to make sure you get the best rate. All Risk premiums generally start at about 1 percent of the total value of your shipment and go up from there. For example, if the insurer charges 3 percent of the total value of your shipment and your stuff is worth 10.000 euros, you’ll have to pay a 300 euro premium for coverage.

To determine a total value you’ll need to submit an inventory of items you’re shipping and the replacement value. You should consider listing the replacement value of the item in your destination country, as it may cost more in that country.

You also shouldn’t purposely undervalue your stuff. For example, let’s say you have 10.000 euros worth of stuff, but to save some money on the premium you tell the insurer you have 5.000 euros. In the event of damage, if the insurance company determines you purposely undervalued by 50 percent they may only compensate you for 50 percent of the value.

So if your 1.000 euro television is destroyed they’ll only give you 500 euros even if you did accurately capture the television’s 1.000 euros value on the inventory list.

You must have insurance purchased before the movers arrive at your home to pick up your things since damage can occur any time from this point.


Previous in the series
How moving abroad works
Preparing for your move and getting quotes from movers
Shipping and container options

Next in the series
Packing, delivery, and completing your move



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About the Author
Adam Vagley

Adam Vagley is an expat and co-founder of GoodMigrations, which makes it easy for anyone moving abro...

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