Moving to a new home means making a lot of decisions in a very short amount of time. From selecting the best supplies to choosing the right move date, the number of to-dos can become downright overwhelming. The most important relocation decision also happens to be the hardest: choosing the right moving company.
With thousands of local and interstate moving companies located throughout the country, there’s no shortage of choices vying for your business. It’s important to ask the right questions before hiring a moving company for the job.
To find the relocation company best fitting your specific needs, here are five questions you should ask them first.
Are you properly licensed?
To avoid moving scams and rogue movers, make sure to ask whether the moving company is properly licensed. All professional interstate moving companies should have a license number issued by the United States Department of Transportation. You can check their license number and complaint history here. On the other hand, local moving companies who only relocate customers within the same state are regulated by the state – not the U.S. Department of Transportation. Therefore, local movers should hold a state license. It’s important to note each state has their own set of moving regulations and license requirements.
Of course, if you select a moving company from Moving.com’s network of reliable movers, you won’t have to bother asking this question. Every professional moving company we at Moving.com work with is required to be licensed and insured.
Do they have experience with my specific type of move?
Be sure to ask the moving company whether or not they have ample experience handling your specific type of move. For instance, if you’re moving to a high-rise apartment building, a townhome with multiple stories (and steps), or to a big city, you should inquire whether the moving company has experience with the type of move. Movers should be well-prepared to handle anything coming their way – i.e. parking restrictions, steep stairs, no elevators and small doorways.
What kind of liability coverage does your company provide?
Before handing over your things, you’ll want to make sure your belongings are covered in case of a mishap during the relocation. Whether you’re moving across the street or across the country, your professional moving company should have multiple liability coverage options for you to choose from. Licensed interstate movers are required to offer two types of liability options: Full Value Protection and Released Value. The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) defines these options, below:
- Full Value Protection: “your mover is liable for the replacement value of lost or damaged goods in your entire shipment…This is the more comprehensive plan available for the protection of your belongings.” The cost of Full Value Protection varies by mover.
- Released Value Protection: “The most economical protection available is Released Value, since it is offered at no additional charge. However, the protection is minimal. Under this option, the mover assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound per article.”
Customers also have the option to purchase insurance from a third-party insurance company. However, before purchasing insurance, the FMCSA recommends checking your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure you’re not already covered.
In addition to liability coverage options, you should ask to see a moving company’s proof of insurance. Note: every legitimate, licensed moving company should be able to show you their own insurance policy when asked.
Do you have references?
You wouldn’t hire an employee without checking their references, so why would you hire a moving company without asking for theirs? Before entrusting your belongings to a relocation company, ask for references. When prompted a moving company representative should be able to provide you with all the information you need.
Of course, it’s always up to you to do your homework. When searching for a moving company, I recommend asking friends and neighbors for recommendations. Even in this day-and-age, word-of-mouth is still one of the most reliable routes to finding a trustworthy mover. Another must: double-check the moving company’s online reviews and ratings. Moving.com’s Moving Company Directory includes customer reviews for more than 600 moving companies nationwide. The reviews also include the moving company’s U.S. DOT number, Better Business Bureau rating, any official complaints filed with the FMCSA, and whether the moving company has any association with the American Moving & Storage Association.
Can you provide a binding quote or a not-to-exceed estimate?
Don’t let your bill leave you with any unwelcome surprises. Many (if not most) moving companies offer non-binding estimates, which means the estimated price of your move is subject to change, depending on actual costs. This could end up being a good or bad thing. If your move requires more man-hours or is heavier than originally estimated, you could end up paying more than the original estimate. If not, you could end up getting lucky and paying less.
Prefer to know exactly how much you’re going to owe ahead of time? Then hiring a moving company that offers a binding estimate may be the better option. A binding written estimate ensures the cost of your move will not end up exceeding the original cost estimate. The binding estimate should include add-ons and any potential charges along the way. When beginning your moving company search, be sure to ask whether the company offers binding written estimates for their customers. All add-ons and services, such as stairs, travel time and more, should be included and clearly laid out in the quote.
Other important questions to ask before hiring a moving company:
- How long will the move take?
- How do I contact you and the driver during the move?
- Will my items be transferred to another party along the way? Do you subcontract your moves?
- Are there any potential charges I’m not already aware of? What additional moving supplies will I be paying for?
- Do you have a cancellation policy?
- What forms of payment do you accept?
- Are there any restrictions on what and how I pack?
- Will you pack specialty items, such as TVs and electronics?
- Will this moving company be delivering my items or will another party be delivering them?
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