What is U-Haul truck insurance — & is it worth it?

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What is U-Haul truck insurance — & is it worth it?

Tom Ingrassia almost didn’t buy rental truck insurance when he booked a U-Haul to relocate from Ohio to Massachusetts for work.

It was only after he let his friend drive the truck that Ingrassia was grateful he got the coverage.

“Before we were even out of Ohio, my friend miscalculated while driving under a low bridge,” he recalls. “He shifted just a couple of inches too far to the right, and a portion of the truck's roof was peeled back as it scraped along the bridge wall.”

With the top half of a decapitated U-Haul truck bent back like the lid of a sardine can, the bottom half stuck under a bridge, and his stuff nearly obliterated into kingdom come, Ingrassia, who isn’t usually an insurance/warranty buyer, says shelling out a few bucks for insurance was the best decision he ever made.

“Without insurance, I would have been on the hook for thousands of dollars in repairs,” he says.

If you’re thinking of renting a U-Haul truck, should you do the same and purchase their damage protection or pass? Here’s what to know.

What U-Haul insurance covers

U-Haul’s rental truck insurance is called Safemove. Its base option offers three protections:

  • A zero-deductible damage waiver that pays for all accidental damages to the rental truck
  • Cargo coverage that pays for damages to your belongings inside the rental truck. A $100 deductible insures up to $25,000 (for one-way rentals) or $15,000 (for local rentals) against fires, windstorms and overturned trucks
  • Up to $1,000 in medical bill coverage in the event of an accident, and in the event of a fatality, $15,000 in life coverage for passenger loss of life, $25,000 for lessee loss of life

There’s also a SafeMove Plus option with an additional $1 million in supplemental liability insurance (SLI) that covers property damage, bodily injury or legal action created by any third parties not involved with your rental truck. U-Haul charges no deductible for SLI.

What U-Haul insurance doesn’t cover

U-Haul insurance won’t cover damages to your car if you’re towing it behind your rental truck. If it’s not inside the truck, it’s not included.

While things like fire or extreme inclement weather is covered under the Safemove plan, you’re not covered if the truck suffers mechanical damage (i.e. transmission/drive train problems) from pushing or rocking the truck back and forth if it’s stuck in ice or mud. And there are other exclusions that can vary by state, so be sure to read the fine print before hitting the road.

Does my car insurance cover a U-Haul?

Most car insurance policies won’t double for U-Haul rental truck coverage. Or, if your coverage does extend to rental trucks, there are generally size restrictions — which a U-Haul is very likely to surpass.

In other words, if you don’t buy in-house U-Haul insurance, you’re generally responsible — out of pocket— for any and all damages to your rented truck (that’s not including your rental fees). And supplemental rental car insurance provided by a credit card won’t apply to rental trucks either.

Beyond that, you won’t be billed later by the company. You’ll be immediately responsible when the body shop drafts up an invoice.

“U-Haul will charge you for the damage you caused, plus lost rental revenue while the truck is being repaired as soon as you return it,” according to the company’s website.

Keep in mind, we’re talking damage to the U-Haul truck here. There’s a chance your car insurance’s liability coverage would provide some protection for bodily injury or property damage you caused someone else during an accident in a U-Haul. And comprehensive coverage might provide some cover to your car if it’s damaged inside the U-Haul. But put an emphasis here on the words “chance” and “might”, because, aside from the fact that some policies don’t extend coverage to U-Hauls, any damage you do to others in a rental truck could exceed your policy limits. (Confused about all this insurance jargon? We’ve got an explainer on how car insurance works here.)

Bottomline: If you’re planning to rent a truck, check with your insurance broker or agent about what your car insurance would cover — and what it wouldn’t.

Is U-Haul insurance worth it?

For blogger Daniel Kao, getting U-Haul insurance was a no-brainer, considering the size of most truck rentals and the scope of most moves.

“Luckily, I've never had any major incidents before to where U-Haul wanted to recoup any damages. The most have been a few slight dings,” he said. “But I think back to all the times I rented U-Haul trucks. And just given the sheer size of some of the vehicles and the difficulty maneuvering them around; I easily recall plenty of situations where it could have been detrimental. Just one of those incidents would have left me in up to $25,000 in debt, had I not chosen to pay for the coverage.”

The amount of insurance you buy depends on how much coverage you want or need. U-Haul generally charges around $14 per day for its standard insurance and around $28 for its Safe MovePlus plan (prices may vary). So a week-long move would cost you about $98 to $196 in rental truck insurance, which is fairly small price to pay for peace of mind — and coverage in the event that something goes wrong.

A note on U-Haul’s cargo coverage

Remember, U-Haul’s cargo insurance covers the actual cash value of your property. So, if you file a claim after your seven-year-old laptop inside the truck were damaged, don’t expect to get a brand new MacBook just because you’re covered up to $25,000. The policy will reimburse you for their current value, not for more expensive replacements.

U-Haul's cargo coverage might pale in comparison to your own renters insurance or homeowners insurance. If you have a replacement cost value policy renters insurance policy, for instance, you’re covered for the cost of repairing or replacing the item at its current price — no need to worry about depreciation.

Unfortunately, a renters or homeowners insurance policy doesn’t mean you can skip U-Haul’s cargo insurance. For starters, your personal policy might not cover your stuff while it’s in transit. Or there might be exclusions that apply to damage done specifically by movers.

But, beyond that, U-Haul's cargo coverage is bundled in both SafeMove and SafeMove Plus. That means you effectively get it once you make the decision to buy U-Haul insurance.

Still, think twice about where you file a claim, should something happen to your belongings on the ride. Just as with your car insurance, it pays to check with your agent or broker about what kind of coverage your renters or homeowners policy provides.

Picking a rental truck policy

Not all rental truck insurance is bundled, however. And, even if you’re opting for a U-Haul, you’ll want to determine which plan you’ll need. Here are some ways to make sure you don’t wind up paying too much for rental truck insurance.

  • First, decide which size vehicle is the right size for your move. Anything too large and you could end up overpaying for more truck than you need.
  • Determine if your car insurance’s liability coverage will apply, should you get into an accident with the truck — and whether your coverage limits are likely to suffice. If not, it’s worth springing for extra liability coverage. In the case of U-Haul, that means the SafePlus plan.
  • Examine your other insurance policies. Again, your auto policy may offer some protection, but what about your health insurance? It may offer you enough coverage to forego buying medical bill coverage (assuming you can, of course).
  • Check your budget. If you’re moving, you’ll need to consider moving expenses, gas, food, lodging, and other costs. Don’t risk going into debt over repairs you can’t afford on the road if you pass on rental truck insurance. Your trip may simply be from point A to point B, but an insurance policy goes the distance far further than that.

Image: AleksandarNakic