If you’re moving in the near future, your mind is probably filled with thoughts of house hunting – not to mention selling your current place. But there’s one part of the whole moving process that it’s important not to leave until the last minute. Unless you have magic powers and can poof your belongings to your new home, you’re going to need to hire a moving company. This is a big decision, as you’ll probably want only the best of the best transporting your possessions. That’s why we’re put together this checklist for choosing a mover.
Tips for choosing a mover.
1. Talk to multiple moving companies to get estimates.
It’s a good idea to reach out to multiple movers to get estimates on your belongings. These estimates should be based on an in-person inspection of your possessions. An online or phone estimate can’t really compete with an actual inspection of the stuff that needs to be transported as far as being a legitimate and accurate quote. Don’t be afraid to get estimates from a few different places.
2. Make sure the mover is appropriately registered when choosing a mover.
The next step is to make sure that the moving company is properly registered with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). The company needs to have a USDOT Number if they go between states. To find out if the moving company is all registered, you can use the FMCSA’s Mover Search Tool. Check that the company is properly insured, and check that they’re registered to do interstate transport of household goods. (And note that if they don’t have their DOT Number or Motor Carrier Number proudly listed in ads or on their website, that might not be too encouraging.) The FMCSA takes registration very seriously.
3. Use the FMCSA to look into the mover’s complaints.
You can also go through the FMCSA to look into complaints that have been made against the moving company. It’s not a bad idea to do a little research and try to get a gauge on how others felt about working with the moving company. You can also go through the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to look into complaints that have been made against the moving company. It’s important to work with a company that has a record of treating people well.
4. Read the resources that have been provided.
If you’re moving between states, you should get a copy of a “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” pamphlet from the mover. Make sure you take the time to review this pamphlet – it’s packed with helpful information, including what happens if your belongings are lost or damaged. It also explains the important documents you have to sign. You need to look this over so you know what’s expected of your mover and what’s expected of you during the whole moving process.
5. Look over the documents provided by the mover.
The mover is likely to have a lot of documents for you to review, so make sure you give these some detailed attention. Here are some of the documents to expect.
Estimate. The estimate gives a description in writing of all the charges the mover is going to expect. It should be signed by your mover. Remember, a verbal offer is not enough.
Order of Service. This is a list of all the services the mover is going to provide. It also gives the pick up date and the delivery date.
Bill of Lading. This is a contract between you and the mover as well as a receipt of your possessions. (Note that you should get a partially completed version before the mover departs.)
Inventory. This is the receipt listing every item you shipped, plus its condition. You need to get a written inventory after your possessions are loaded.
PRO TIP: Don’t sign documents that are either blank or not complete.
6. Make sure your belongings are protected.
It’s also important to consider how your belongings are going to be protected while they’re on the move. Full Value Protection is one option. Also, check your home insurance to see what it says about this scenario.
7. Be there for loading and unloading.
You’ll probably want to be present for the loading and unloading process. Of course, it’s not that you want to be helicoptering over the loading and unloading, but it’s a good idea to be around to keep an eye on things.
8. Know warning signs when you’re choosing a mover.
When you are choosing a mover, it’s important to be aware of some things that should make you raise an eyebrow. Be a little leery if…
- They do not do an onsite inspection for your belongings.
- You would have to pay in cash or give a large deposit.
- You would have to sign a blank or incomplete document.
- They don’t do a written estimate, whether that estimate is binding or non-binding.
- They do not provide you with a copy of the Your Rights and Responsibilities pamphlet or the FMCSA’s Ready to Move brochure. (If you are moving interstate, the mover is required to provide those.)
- You can’t find their address, registration information, or insurance information online.
- They tell you that their insurance covers “all goods”.
- They do not have a phone greeting that names their specific company.
- They don’t have an office or a warehouse.
- They say they’ll figure out the charges after they load everything.
- They don’t show up with a marked, company-owned fleet truck (i.e. they show up with a rental truck).
What to do if you have more stuff than the mover anticipated…
If the mover tells you that you have more belongings than they expected when the move rolls around, have the mover give you a new estimate. The new version should include the additional items or services, plus the price. You and the mover should both agree and sign on this estimate before they begin packing or loading your belongings. (And you should have a copy of this.)
So, those are some important considerations to keep in mind when choosing a moving company. It’s important to work with a trustworthy mover who will take care of your belongings. If you’re moving, you may also be looking for home insurance or car insurance. We can help with that. Get in touch by filling out our online form, giving us a call, or messaging us on LiveChat.