Questions to Ask: The Basics

Insurance like you will need comes in a variety of forms, but here are some common terms and things to consider:

  • What are the costs and what do you get? Coverage for certain parts of the world, where there is a greater chance of theft for example, may be significantly higher than if you are in a safer place.
  • What events will the insurance cover? Theft, pilferage, water damage, breaking, shock damage to electronics?
  • Are there certain items, such as cash, antiques, pleasure boats and the like that cannot be covered at all?
  • What level of deductible? The higher the deductible, the cheaper the insurance. Go for a high deductible if cost is a consideration, or if you feel comfortable that it will be an all-or-nothing thing with the movers. In other words, if you believe that the chances of pilferage or breaking are small, and only want to insure against the ship going down, a bigger deductible makes more sense.
  • Is the deductible for each item, each claim or each “transit” (i.e., for one TV, for everything including the TV damaged in the earthquake, or everything that came over with me when I moved from Country A to B)?
  • Under what circumstances? War, earthquake, shipping disaster, warehouse fire? While some of these things matter not in some areas, knowing your coverage's limits is very important. These situations are usually called “exclusions” and looking now at my own overseas policy, I see that I am not covered for nuclear accident or insolvency of a carrier (the shipping company goes bankrupt).
  • Is the insurance for actual value (the $2.45 your old 486 computer is worth today) or replacement value (the $2900 you need to buy a new PC today)? Some policies offer you the choice, though obviously at different prices.
  • How would your coverage protect you in the event of an evacuation? What coverage would you have if conditions after a military coup in the host country worsened to the point that it was no longer safe for Americans to live there? If your family left with only a suitcase, and your home was ransacked, what if anything would you recover through insurance?
  • Is the company the insurer (you talk to directly to Lloyds of London) or broker (you talk to the company, who is reselling insurance coverage from Lloyds of London)? The latter case is actually quite common and not necessarily a significant cause for alarm, but you should know who you are actually covered by.
  • Indeed, are you talking to a firm that specializes in such overseas insurance coverage? Despite possible assurances, the local company that handles your homeowner's insurance in the U.S. may not be able to settle claims abroad, or deal with a recalcitrant shipping company based out of Manila on your behalf.

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