Hiring Movers? Ask these Questions First

When you move frequently it’s nice to contract out the worst part of the tasks and hire help. That said, moving companies are not all equal. There’s a huge range in services, costs, and quality when it comes to the opportunities you will find online. Not to mention what will happen when your possessions arrive at their destination. If you’re hiring movers it’s important to ask several questions before you sign your name to a contract.

Here are Questions to Ask Before Hiring Movers

What is Your Liscense Number?

Every reputable moving company should list two numbers at the bottom of its home page: its MC # and its U.S. DOT #. The federal government assigns companies these identification numbers which you can use to confirm the movers are authorized. Type either number into the FMCSA’s database and read the information listed under “Operating Status.” If it says “Authorized,” you’re working with a good company.

Will We Work with You Directly?

There are pros and cons with each type of service you can use but, in my experience, you need to weigh cost versus how many transfers your things will make.

All moving companies fall into one of three categories:

  • Brokers (also called brokerages) are the least expensive because they outsource their moving services their partner companies. 
  • Carriers (sometimes called van lines) handle all of your moving services in-house with their staff. This costs more, but you will almost always have a more seamless experience than working with a broker.
  • Broker/carrier hybrids handle some moving services with in-house staff, but they outsource specialty services—typically jobs like auto shipping or piano transport—to other companies.

Do you Background Check Your Employees?

You’re going to allow people into your new home. They will see what you own and know where you live. It’s vital to know what they are trustworthy. This is another reason to consider a carrier. They have more on the line with in-house staff if something goes wrong.

What Insurance Coverage Options do you Offer?

Insurance coverage differs with every company. Never assume you have coverage unless it’s in writing. All moving companies are required to provide basic liability coverage free of charge. This coverage insures your items for $0.30 per pound for intrastate moves and $0.60 per pound for interstate moves.

Full-value protection (FVP) covers your items for their current market value. If you have FVP and your couch falls off the moving truck while it’s on its way to you, you’d be reimbursed enough to repair it or buy a replacement of equal value. However, full-value protection usually costs extra and isn’t offered by every company. The best way to ensure you maximize this insurance is by taking photos of everything before packing it that way you know what causes the damage.

How Do You Handle Claims?

Before you can get reimbursed for damaged or lost belongings, you need to contact your mover and go through its claims process. This can take a little while so you may want to read reviews and see if people complain about the claims process.

Can Your Moving Company do Everything I Need?

You need to make a list of everything you will need help with during your move and get quotes of every part of the process. If you need help moving a piano up two flights of stairs you need to make sure that the moving company is aware that’s part of the deal ahead of time. Otherwise, they may refuse to move that piano for you.

Will you Provide a Binding Estimate?

Binding estimates ensure that your price won’t increase as long as your move goes as planned and you don’t add anything to your inventory at the last minute. The only way to receive a binding estimate is by having someone do an onsite or video inspection of your belongings and send you a written estimate that says binding on the statement.

You need to do your part during this process as well. Don’t hide things and then pull out extra furniture to load on moving day. Remember, moves estimates are made based on weight. You will avoid hidden fees by asking for a binding estimate as well.

How do you calculate prices?

Moving companies typically charge their customers based on several factors:

  • Shipment weight
  • Shipping distance
  • Seasonality
  • Hourly labor rates

Some companies might also add charges for things like fuel and specialty services. Ask ahead of time how a company calculates its prices so you can budget accordingly.

How Do You Communicate with Cross-Country Moves?

Some companies offer GPS tracking on items while others simply give you a call when they are close to your address. If you are moving across the country it’s important to consider what happens if a truck breaks down or if someone gets lost. Some of the extra perks are worth paying for depending on where you are moving or what you have to load on the truck. This is especially important if the company doesn’t guarantee a delivery date.

What Discounts do You Offer?

If you can flex the days you move you may be able to negotiate a discount. Mid-month or mid-week moves may have special discounts. Companies also run additional offers such as:

It never hurts to ask for a discount.

How is Payment Accepted?

Some companies require a cashers check, others allow credit card. This may be the deal breaker when it comes to choosing a company. Make sure you know up front what the payment requirements are so you don’t waste your time.

Make your next move the smoothest one yet with my two books designed specifically for people who move frequently. (Print and Kindle Versions available)

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