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 know what questions to ask moving companies when interviewing them for the job. To find a company that best fits your specific needs, here are five questions to ask before hiring a moving company.
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 (USDOT). You can check their license number and complaint history with USDOT online. On the other hand, local moving companies that 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 that each state has its own set of moving regulations and licensing requirements.
Of course, if you select a moving company from our network of reliable movers, you won’t have to bother asking this question. Every professional moving company we work with is required to be licensed and insured.
Do you have experience with my specific type of move?
Be sure to ask the moving company whether 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 any experience with this type of move. Movers should be well-prepared to handle anything that comes their way, including parking restrictions, steep stairs, lack of elevators, and small doorways.
What kind of liability coverage options 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 the 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 homeowners 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. 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, consider 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. Our Moving Company Directory includes customer reviews for more than 600 moving companies nationwide. The reviews also include the moving company’s USDOT 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 present you with any unwelcome surprises. Many 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 is 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.
More important questions to ask movers
While the five questions above are absolutely essential questions to ask moving companies, they’re not the only ones. Here’s what else you should ask movers to ensure you hire the right moving company.
- How long will the move take? – Most long-distance moves take anywhere from seven to 10 days. Local moves usually only take one day. Ask the mover for an estimate on how long it will take to ship your belongings. Ask if they offer guaranteed delivery dates as well.
- What moving services do you offer? – Does the mover offer the moving services you need? For instance, do you need packing assistance, specialty item moving or expedited shipping? Be sure to ask about the specific services you need.
- Are you a broker or carrier? – This is important if you’re worried about a broker handing your belongings off to another company. A broker arranges for transportation of your shipment by using for-hire carriers. A carrier handles the transportation from beginning to end.
- How do you handle claims and damages? – Be sure to ask about the company’s claims process to make sure it’s as uncomplicated as possible.
- How do I contact you and the driver during the move? – Does the moving company provide a way to contact the driver during the move? Ask how this process works.
- Do you offer shipment tracking? – This is an important question to ask an interstate mover. Many moving companies offer online shipment tracking.
- Will my items be transferred to another party along the way? Do you subcontract your moves? – Brokers often transfer shipments to other carriers. Moving companies often use contract movers as well. We recommend avoiding moving companies that subcontract the work to movers who are not employees.
- Are there any potential charges I’m not already aware of? What additional moving supplies will I be paying for? – Pricing should be as transparent as possible. Make sure there are no surprises or hidden fees by asking about everything you’ll be paying for, including packing services, moving supplies, labor charges and more.
- Do you have a cancellation policy? – Some movers may charge you a fee to cancel a move reservation. Others may let you cancel a move without any penalty up to two weeks in advance. Be sure to ask the moving company about their cancellation policy.
- What forms of payment do you accept? – Movers should not charge you in advance of the move. If the mover asks for full payment upfront, this is a red flag. Most movers accept cash, checks and credit cards.
- Do you offer any discounts? – Many moving companies offer discounts for eligible individuals. Common discounts include discounts for AAA members, military members and students.
- Are there any restrictions on what and how I pack? – All moving companies should be able to provide you with a list of non-allowables.
- Will you pack specialty items, such as TVs and electronics? – Most movers can handle packing specialty items. Just in case, though, we recommend checking that they have the right supplies, equipment and experience to handle the job.
- Do you provide storage? – If you need storage before, during or after the move, be sure to ask the moving company whether they offer storage services. Many interstate movers offer short-term and long-term storage options for customers.
- How do you calculate your prices? – When looking at a quote from a moving company, be sure to ask how exactly they calculate their prices. Interstate movers typically have a set rate per pound and charge based on the weight of the shipment (among other factors). Local movers typically charge by the hour, and/or offer a flat rate for the move.
Additional tips for interviewing movers
Asking the right questions is just one way to ensure you hire the right movers. Here are several other things to be aware of when interviewing movers for the job.
- Obtain at least three moving quotes from different movers – You’ll need to compare different moving quotes to get a sense of whether the moving company’s prices are competitive. If there’s a considerably cheaper quote or more expensive quote than the others, this could be a red flag.
- Have your questions ready – Print these questions out and have them ready to go when interviewing a moving company. We recommend highlighting the ones that are most important and relevant to your move.
- Review your budget beforehand – Having a good sense of what you can afford before seeking moving quotes is a good idea. If you’re working on a tight budget, you might need to opt for full-service moving company alternatives, such as a moving container or renting a moving truck. Both of these options are more affordable than hiring a full-service mover.
- Be wary of red flags – Be aware of common red flags before interviewing a moving company. This will make it easy to spot them. Common red flags include a too-good-to-be-true estimate, lack of proper licensing or insurance, a lack of references, poor reviews and bad complaints, unprofessional demeanor and rude behavior, unmarked trucks and demand for payment upfront.
- Know your moving rights and responsibilities – Understanding your moving rights and responsibilities will give you a better idea of your own responsibilities when it comes to hiring movers. We recommend reading the FMCSA document before interviewing movers (link in Sources). It should help you understand the terms of your moving contract, any moving paperwork you need to sign, how to resolve disputes with a mover and the definitions of certain moving terms.
- Read the reviews – Check online reviews, BBB ratings and complaint history before interviewing a mover. If a moving company has a history of poor reviews, you may want to look elsewhere. It’s also important to talk to friends and neighbors to see if they have had experiences with a certain moving company. Asking trusted sources for moving company recommendations is another great way to find a mover as well.
It’s important to know what questions to ask moving companies before you start the interview process. Write out your questions and be prepared to do a little research on a mover before hiring them for the job. Fortunately, we’ve taken care of some of the legwork for you. To find reputable movers, search our network of licensed and insured moving companies. Our website allows you to compare moving services and prices among our large national network of moving companies. The algorithm we use matches your move details with the most reliable and qualified movers for the job.
Source: moving.com ~ By: Marion White ~ Image: Canva Pro