When should you buy moving truck rental insurance?


Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok

Blog author Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Debt Free After Three.

Published October 21, 2015|4 min read

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When my husband and I picked up the 16-foot rental truck we’d use to drive across the country, the salesman asked if we wanted to add insurance. It was $100 extra, and I wasn’t eager to break our moving budget. But my husband suggested that since we were driving 16 hours, it might be a good investment.

Flash forward to two days later, when a rogue pebble skips up from the highway and cracks the front windshield. What could have cost several hundred dollars and several days of anxiety was completely covered. When we dropped the rental truck off at our final destination, we didn’t have to fill out any extra paperwork or argue with the company - since we had the insurance, we were fine.

I’m generally hesitant about buying extra insurance. I always feel pressured to make a decision quickly. I’m someone who likes to research everything I buy, whether it’s toothpaste or lipstick. Deciding on the spot whether or not to spend $100 just makes me anxious.

I’ve flown without travel insurance, moved without liability insurance and even spent two months without health insurance. I’m no stranger to playing fast and loose with my coverage, but this last moving experience has changed my tune. I can afford to pay $100 for extra insurance, but I can’t afford to buy a new windshield for a truck.

Insurance is a part of daily life for most of us, but most people don’t think about whether or not they’re covered for a move. When is it a good idea to spring for the extra coverage during the moving process?

Renting a moving truck? You might need to buy more coverage

If you’re using a rental truck, like we were, you should consider more coverage. Before you hit the road, call your agent to see if your auto policy will cover the rental truck. Be aware that if rental cars are covered, trucks might be a whole different story.

Even if you never get into car accidents, driving a 20-foot rental truck is a different story. It might get clipped by a semi, broken into while you’re at a hotel or simply break down in the middle of the highway.

That’s why it’s always important to research the exact details of your policy. Some credit cards provide extra coverage if you use them to book the truck. Again, you’ll want to call ahead and verify. When it comes to insurance, you need to know what your specific policy covers.

Hiring movers? Here’s what coverage you might need

See if your homeowner’s or renter’s policy will cover anything broken, damaged or lost during the move. If you hire a moving company, they may have their own policies on what they’ll cover. You want to ensure that if your grand piano is damaged, you’ll be able to buy a new one. For antiques, collectibles and rare items, it might be best to buy an extra floater to add to your coverage.

If you’re putting items in a storage unit, you’ll want to ask the company what their replacement policies are in case of theft or damage. For people who are shipping a car across country, ask your auto insurance company what your policy will cover - and what the movers will be liable for.

The difference between moving across town--or across country

The farther the move, the bigger the risk if you aren’t fully insured. You might decline extra insurance if your rental truck is only going a few miles, but longer road trips breed the possibility of disaster.

Even flying can turn into a serious expense if your valuables are properly covered. We’ve all read horror stories of the TSA destroying a famous cellist’s 300-year-old instrument or an irreplaceable family heirloom. The same thing can happen with your laptop, or expensive stereo.

This is another example of how important it is to know just how well you’re covered. Do you have travel insurance? Are any of your items covered by the credit card they were purchased with? What’s the policy of the airline you’re flying on lost or damaged goods?

Insurance mitigates risk. The chance of getting into an accident while renting a car might be small, but if it happens, you might not be able to afford the repairs. That’s the point of insurance - you should only decline it if the odds are low enough or you can afford the consequences. Would you rather pay $100 and have nothing happen, or owe thousands to repair a rental truck?

Even if you’re a gambler, those odds are not in your favor.

Photo credit: Vincent Parsons