The South African coastal property market is booming, and the driving force behind this is semigration – a trend that has resulted in an influx of families relocating to the coast, and the Western Cape in particular. While moving is often an exciting adventure, it can also be a risky one when it comes to transporting your belongings over long distances.

“Before packing up your family and life and making the big move, do your homework and find a reliable long-distance moving company to work with, and make sure you take out goods in transit insurance to protect your belongings,” says Peter Olyott, CEO of financial services provider, Indwe Risk Services (Indwe).

The furniture removals industry is known for its high-risk nature, as movers often handle items that are fragile or delicate, as well as those that are poorly made, which means they often don’t survive transportation or additional handling. Other common relocation risks include accidental damage, theft, collision damage, hijacking, fire in the vehicle, vehicle overturning, storm damage, riot and strike action, and storage cover.

“It’s essential that you understand the risks involved in your move and ensure that you are adequately covered,” says Olyott. “It’s just as imperative that you are aware of the restrictions and conditions of coverage offered by larger removal companies. For example, some companies may only cover items that they pack themselves.”

Valuations and inventories are critical elements of your coverage, so check that the removal inventory matches as closely as possible to the insured inventory. Additionally, make sure to request that the removal companies explain how average will be applied to your claim, i.e. whether on individual items or a collection of items. If your goods are going to be held temporarily in storage, it is also important to notify your current insurers of this fact, so they are aware of it if any loss or damage occurs whilst in storage and they will entertain any claims.

It is also important to consider the specific value of certain items, such as antiques, paintings and rugs, as these may be difficult to replace and often hold sentimental value. Obtain a valuation or estimate of the cost to replace or repair these items.

While many people opt for the cover provided by removal companies, it is worth noting that standalone cover may be less expensive. Removal companies also have a vested interest in reducing claims as it counts against their claims experience, and this could impact their willingness to pay out on a policy. Olyott suggests asking the moving company about their claims experience to gauge what their service is like.

“Be aware of excess fees and how they are applied, avoid per item excesses and only accept a per incident excess. You also need to be careful about not signing away your rights to claim against removal companies in cases of gross negligence. If you have standalone cover, your insurer may want subrogation rights to recover from the removal company,” says Olyott.

When it comes to making a claim, report it to your insurance company immediately and provide photo evidence of any broken items. Olyott also recommends keeping manuals and invoices for large appliances or expensive items to prove their value.

“Taking out all risks goods in transit insurance is essential when moving house or office furniture, especially when your items are being transported over long distances. Because of the restrictions and conditions of coverage, consider using a broker to help you better understand your risks and help you navigate the claims process and fight for your indemnity,” says Olyott.

Indwe is an authorised Financial Services Provider. FSP: 3425