Am I protected against loss or damage while my goods are in international transit?

If you are moving from the UK to live overseas – either on a short-term basis or permanently – then it’s important to know whether your furniture and other belongings are protected against loss or damage while in transit.

Am I protected against loss or damage while my goods are in international transit?

For international removals, this question linked with your choice of which removal firm to use. As in all such decisions, doing your homework about exactly what the company offers – and paying attention to recommendations and reviews – will help ensure you don’t get ripped off.

Look for trade association membership

Even for moving home within the UK, it’s always a good idea to look for a removals firm which is a member of an established and reputable trade association – and this only becomes more important when moving internationally. The British Association of Removers (BAR) is the largest and oldest removals sector trade association in the UK. Using a BAR member for your move will provide you with certain protections as standard. 

Liability and international removals insurance options

While removals within Europe may be transported by road, the most common transport method for international removals is shipping overseas in a freight container. In practical terms, this means that your belongings will pass through many hands at both the outbound and destination ports, and will be subject to whatever whims of weather may occur while at sea. Reputable removals firms will ensure your property is properly packed and protected to reduce risk as much as possible, but sometimes breakages or loss will happen in transit.



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It is vital when comparing removals companies to establish what protection, if any, is offered as part of their standard conditions, and what additional cover you can purchase. Standard protection is often either minimal or nonexistent – for example limited liability cover which may only pay out up to a certain pound value per inventory item. To ensure your belongings are properly protected, it’s usually advisable to take out marine insurance or similar international removals insurance in case something goes wrong. In fact, some companies may require you to have a sufficient level of insurance in place as a condition of service.

What protection will I have and how much will it cost?

In common with other forms of insurance policy, marine and removals insurance can vary in both level of cover and price. More basic policies may involve an excess, and may only cover loss of items but not damage or theft. Other policies are more comprehensive. Prices are usually charged based on a percentage of the total declared value of the insured items – generally between 1 per cent and 5 per cent.


Many international removers can arrange insurance cover for you directly or via an affiliate, but you may prefer to shop around and make arrangements either with an individual insurance provider or via an independent insurance broker. Always check the conditions of the policy before signing up as they may have certain requirements – for example stipulating that your belongings must be packaged by the removals firm rather than doing it yourself. If you are shipping a number of high-value items then you may want to specifically seek an “all risk” policy that insures your goods for their full replacement value, and also choose a “door-to-door” policy that covers every stage of the transit from your existing home to your new home overseas, rather than just port-to-port.

 

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