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Things to Know When Searching for Moving Companies

Moving is a challenge. There’s a bit of excitement and thrill in it but anxiety is what dominates. And more than anything, the anxiety is about your household belongings reaching the new home safe and secure.

These days there are several moving options available to you. Each option is different and some are more suitable than others depending on your individual situation.

One of the most common ways that people have been moving over the years is with the help of a professional moving company.

But how do you know whether the moving company you’re about to hire is good or not?

We're going to discuss here things you should know before hiring a moving company. Hope this will benefit when you plan a change in your home address.

Is the Moving Company licensed?

Make sure the moving company is properly licensed to operate.

Every moving company in the US needs to have a license to operate. To move interstate, it is mandatory to have a license issued by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), a federal agency.

If a moving company only intends to do local moves, a USDOT number isn’t required. Some state do however require the company to have proper State Licenses. Licensing requirements vary significantly from state to state.

A moving company that has been properly registered and licensed not only maes it legitimate but also gives you more leverage if you require to file a complaint or challenge your final invoice in the future.

How to check if the moving company is licensed?

To check the license of a moving company you’re talking to, check out the resources below:

USDOT Number

If you’re looking to move interstate, any moving company you hire must have a USDOT number.

Before you get into a conversation with the company, you need to ask the number. Visit the USDOT Website and lookup the USDOT Number provided by the mover.

You will be able to see the Legal Name, DBA (Doing Business As Name), Address, Phone/Fax Numbers, fleet size, safety rating, number of drivers, crash reports, inspections, and a whole lot of other information.

MC Number

The FMCSA-issued “Interstate Operating Authority” number or MC Number is mandatory for a company to operate as – hire carriers, transport passengers, interstate commerce, or arranging for passenger transport.

Once you confirm both these numbers, you can go ahead with the business.

State License Number

If a moving company only does local moves, they aren’t required to have USDOT or MC number. So if a company you’re speaking to doesn’t have one, it could be because they don’t do any interstate moves.

If this is the case, check to see if they have a state license to operate. Most states require a moving company to have a state license to operate but a few states don’t.

Hence you don’t need to panic if your moving company is not registered with the regional department of transportation. Probably, your state might be falling into this category.

How long has the moving company been in business?

Experience is one of most important things to watch for when deciding on hiring a moving company. Every move is different and some moves can be very complex depending upon the kind of house you’re moving to or if you’re moving to a city as compared to a suburb.

Therefore hiring a moving company that has had experience in an exact circumstance like yours could be all the difference between a good aor a bad move.

A moving company launched recently might not have the necessary experience to maneuver any trick situations that arise. With no long clientele list and much experience to display on its resume, such a moving company is not an ideal one to entrust your relocation task.

Try opting for a company with at least a few years of experience and some references they can tell you about.

Ask about some of their tricky experiences and how they handled it.

You can also verify their years in business on BBB and FMCSA websites.

Does the company have a good track record?

If the moving company is in the industry for some time, it would be a familiar name. Check their reviews and ratings to make sure you make an informed decision.

There are several places you can go to check reviews and ratings

  • Ask the company for references and follow up with them
  • Check the company’s BBB profile for rating and complaints
  • Check the FMCSA website for any complaints
  • Check Google ratings and other review websites
  • Check review websites in the moving industry

Where to find a reliable moving company?

Ask coworkers or friends

There’s nothing better than mouth publicity. The friends or workers can help you recognize the services of a moving company as someone within their friend circle would have hired the moving company in the near past.

Connect with neighborhood property dealers

Who is better than a realty agent to vow for a moving company’s service? Both the realty business and moving industry are inter-connected and people from both industries know each other. A real estate agent can give the example of one of his clients who had hired the moving company in the past.

Check online

These days our entire lives are online, so why not search for a moving company online as well. On websites like HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack or even this one, you can quickly get matched to pre-screened moving companies.

Does the moving company offer moving insurance?

They say no move is perfect. A lot of stuff can go wrong during the process.

Items can break. Items can get lost. And that's just the most common things that go wrong. There are many bigger issues that can happen during a move that can turn your experience into a nightmare and cost you a lot of money.

Technically, if the moving company is at fault, they should be held officially responsible and need to compensate for the loss.

But is it legally possible?

It is if the moving company is properly insured. So do yourself and your family a favor and inquire about the insurance a moving company has and what kind of compensation they are liable for.

What exactly is moving insurance?

Before we start, let’s make this clear – moving insurance isn’t like your regular insurance. It works differently than your normal car insurance or home insurance. Since moving companies aren’t certified to sell insurance, any insurance offered by them isn’t governed by federal regulations.

However, that is not to say that moving insurance is meaningless.

Afterall, you need to have peace of mind and be protected in case any damage occurs to your property during the move.

For this reason, the moving industry has come up with the cocept of valuation. For all intents and purposes, it works similar to how any insurance works. To get you compensation for any damage or loss caused by a moving company.

How is valuation different from insurance?

Insurance is a term more commonly used in law and finance. We buy insurance in order to protect us from losing money in case something bad happens. Car insurance covers your car in case an accident happens. Health insurance makes sure you get proper medical care at affordable rates so you don’t end up with a massive bill.

A valuation is a bit different and is mostly specific to the moving industry.

Valuation is a contractual limit of liability a moving company assumes based on available tarrif rates. In layman terms, it means how much amount is a moving company liable to compensate in case any damage occurs.

There are two different options of valuation moving companies offer:

Released value protection

  • Offers coverage up to $0.60 per pound for items
  • Doesn’t cover full market value
  • Comes standard in moving package

Full-value protection (FVP)

  • Gives full coverage on all your inventory
  • Repairs broken items
  • Replaces broken item with a similar one
  • Offers a cash settlement equal to the item’s market value
  • Doesn’t cover items of extraordinary value (more than $100 per pound)

NOTE: The federal law requires every moving company to offer valuation options, with released value protection included in every package. Hence, all moving companies offer some sort of valuation policy. However, to know what is specific, you need to check with moving company

What is not covered by moving insurance?

Do not assume valuation to cover everything that happens at the back of the truck. For instance, valuation does not compensate for a mishap beyond the control of licensed movers, like earthquakes, fires, floods, etc.

Is there a third-party insurance option and can I opt for it?
It is for you to decide if third-party insurance is to be bought or not. Since valuation doesn’t take up the responsibility of everything that happens and your truck will have valuable goods, I will vote for third party insurance.

Is the moving company a broker?

When you are shopping for a moving company, you will probably hear someone addressing themselves as a moving broker and not as a moving carrier. You may miss it out and they will also not explain the difference. But you should be hiring a moving carrier and not a moving broker. Hold on! I am coming to the difference.

What’s a Moving broker?

Moving brokers are more like middlemen or travel agents for your moving. They don’t own a truck and nor own moving staff. Instead, they collect the payment and outsource the task to an agency that will do the job.

Now, why does a moving broker exist in the market? Because a moving broker makes your task easy. You just pay it an amount and the broker coordinates with multiple companies to get a low bid. Since a moving broker maintains several deals with a few moving companies, they will get the task done at a low price.

Be extra careful when working with a moving broker

Though working with a moving broker can make your life a bit easy and get you the best possible rates, it has also been known to give a lot of people nightmares, especially in the moving industry.

The Internet is full of scams and horror stories as a result of working with a moving broker. But just like in any industry a few bad apples give the entire industry a bad name. Such is the case in the moving industry as well.

In order to book a job, moving brokers have been known to give out low-ball estimates only to increase the price later when they can’t find a company to do the move at that price. In some cases people have lost their deposits or just left stranded on their moving day when no one showed up.

Although this doesn't mean all brokers are bad. It just means that you need to be extra diligent when you work with one.

If you’re working with a moving broker:

  • NEVER give out a big deposit. Only a couple hundred dollar deposit should be sufficent to book a job.
  • Try and use a credit card if possible for the deposit so you have chargeback protection in case something goes wrong.
  • Make sure the estimate is a binding estimate and its written.
  • Follow up regularly with the broker to make sure a moving company has been assigned for your move.
  • Get the contact details of the moving company and contact them directly to confirm they’ve been engaged and have all the details.
  • Check the moving company’s credentials too to make sure the broker assigned your job to a reputable company

Go through the moving quotes and compare with quotes by other companies

You receive a moving quote from a company. Just read it carefully. You must know that there’s no fixed menu here and each company offers different services and quotes will also be different. The analysis is the only savior here. Compare the quote with other quotes you received from different companies.

Is there something missing in it? Are you not able to find something that wanted? Discuss it with the company representative and find if that service can be included. And how much does it matter to the cost factor? Is it fitting to your pocket or anywhere close to your estimate? Sign the contract only if you are satisfied.

What should you consider while analyzing the quotes?

  • Is the quote matching with the budget?
  • Is the company overcharging for any service?
  • Is the company willing to tweak the quote?
  • Is there a scope for discussion?
  • Is it reasonable in comparison with other company quotes?

It’s your call. No action should be taken hastily. Take your time and understand every point mentioned in the contract.

Is the moving quote transparent?

There’s the biggest scam in the moving industry – hidden charges. You agree with the company for an amount and assume the cost to cover the entire moving process. On the moving day, the laborers reach your home to inform that an extra amount is required as there is no elevator and the household items need to be moved up or down a staircase.

Or probably, the narrow corridor, the distance between the home and the main road, or the volume of your belongings may be reasons for this ‘torture’.

Since you don’t have many options left ahead, you end up paying the amount that the laborers demand. To avoid this mishap, read the contract in detail and ask questions on every point you feel confused at. The moving quote needs to be transparent.

For successful moving, you need a trustable moving company. Before hiring some moving company, make sure it is the best you can get in the market. It is not the money or the brand name that matters but the quality of services that decides a moving company.

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