June 18, 2020

We are a mobile society and people are on the move. If you are relocating, you may have some questions about the logistics of the moving process. Here are some important things to consider:

How Do I Ensure That My Mover Is Reputable?

Most reputable movers are registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Ask for your mover’s FMCSA license number, plus any other professional affiliations, such as the Virginia Movers and Warehousemen Association. Ask for evidence of insurance. Check the mover’s complaint history, available at FMCSA. You can also check with your local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce.
If you are moving out of state, ask potential movers about their licensing/certification for interstate transit.
You can get more complete information at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Rights-and-Responsibilities-2013.pdf.

What type of Moving Insurance Should I Have?

Most moving companies include “waiver of full-value” protection in their basic moving charges. Under this provision, you are reimbursed for damaged or lost property up to 60 cents per pound for each item. For an additional fee, however, you can have “full-value” protection, the preferred option because it covers the full value of the item damaged, based upon the client’s valuation. In other words, you are not responsible for any repair or replacement costs.
Check to see if your homeowner’s policy covers your items during your move. If they do, you may not need additional insurance.

How Do I Find Out What My Move Will Cost?

If you are moving locally, your moving company can usually give you an estimate without an on-site assessment. Typically, you will be billed at an hourly rate based on the size of the truck and the number of personnel required to complete your move.

If you are moving a long distance, get several written estimates, and ask what each mover’s estimation process is (total weight versus item type, for example). Long-distance moves are more likely to require an on-site visit.
In either case, be sure to talk to potential movers about any issues that could result in additional fees to the basic estimate. These could include a longer than normal distance from where the truck is parked to the building, or having to move items up and down stairs. Ask about special handling issues, such as a piano or fragile art, as these may incur extra costs.
Your contract should reflect all special costs and exceptions. Keep a copy of all the paperwork with you throughout your move. And remember: Reputable movers will not ask you to sign a blank or incomplete document.
Movers are required by law to deliver your goods for no more than 10 percent above the price of a non-binding estimated. If you get a binding estimate, they must adhere to the agreed-upon amount.

Who is Responsible for Loss or Damage During Transit?

Talk with each potential moving company about who is responsible for loss or damage during transit. Mover liability is limited in some cases.
If you pack yourself, movers usually have a provision allowing them to repack any box or carton if they feel they will cause harm to the shipment. You can minimize the need to repack by using proper packing materials for your belongings. Check with your chosen mover, who may offer packing supplies at a reduced rate.
Prior to your move, you and your mover should itemize existing flaws or damage to your furniture or other belongings. This detailed assessment can help resolve damage disputes later.

What Are the Mover’s Obligations Around Pickup and Delivery Times?

Movers are required by law to meet reasonable dispatch requirements. In other words, they must move your belongings during the scheduled dates—which are agreed upon by both parties as part of the order of service.
Keep in mind that some things are beyond a mover’s control, such as weather or other delays caused by acts of nature.

When Do I Pay for Moving Services?

Be sure that you know when your mover expects payment in full.
Many moving companies do not collect payment until the job is completed. Most movers will require a deposit before commencing the move.
Other companies ask that you pay for moving services before your shipment is unloaded at your destination. Usually, if there is an extra charge above and beyond the agreed-upon price, you will have 30 days to pay that extra amount.

What Is the Mover’s Dispute Settlement Program?

After delivery, check for loss or damage. You have nine months from the date of delivery to file a claim. Your mover has 30 days to acknowledge your claim and another 120 days to determine a settlement, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Be sure you are comfortable with your mover’s dispute settlement program. Ask, before you sign a contract, for a detailed description of their procedures if they do later challenge a claim you may make concerning your move.