Choosing a mover is a big decision that impacts your wallet, your belongings and your sense of peace during this major transition in your life.
So, it’s important to find the right moving company that can make your move easy and comfortable.
And, when you are moving from one state to another, making the right decision is especially important to make the move as stress-free as possible.
We asked veteran moving pro Trish Ethridge, a business developer with Hilldrup Moving and Storage, what you should look for in moving companies when moving between states. “The person selling you your move is an estimator, or is sometimes called a relocation expert,” she says. “Even though he or she is guided by federal laws, company policies and culture significantly influence the details of your move.
“The best thing you can do before signing a contract with a moving company is to ask some important questions, so there are no surprises before, during or after your move,” Ethridge says.
Here are key questions to ask to find the right moving company:
Can you provide me with a binding quote?
The law says you deserve a binding quote, a price that can’t be exceeded based on the predetermined scope of the work. In order to get a binding quote, the company will have to send a certified assessor to survey your possessions. Once you are given a written quote, which is a legal document, the maximum cost of your move is established.
Do you belong to the American Mover and Storage Association (AMSA)?
AMSA helps its members boost their customer satisfaction by making compliance with federal moving laws a term of membership. The U.S. Department of Transportation oversees interstate moving companies and many of the related laws are designed to protect consumers. Local movers can join the AMSA as well, which keeps standards high for in-state moves that are otherwise guided by less stringent state laws.
Is the staff that’s actually handling the move made up of your employees or will they be independent contractors or subcontractors?
Companies that hire a moving staff and offer benefits cultivate loyalty. Loyal employees are more likely to handle your move well, because the happier you are with their work, the better the feedback you give their bosses. Sometimes, independent contractors and subcontractors are transient workers who aren’t dedicated to the moving industry and have less at stake in terms of their careers. Also, if one of the staff is injured during the move, you could be liable if they don’t have adequate workers’ compensation insurance. Employed staffers are much more likely to have that insurance.
How will special items in my home be handled?
Don’t be afraid to ask for specifics about how items like pianos, flat-screen televisions, front-load washers and dryers, heirloom furniture and mattresses that have memory foam, gel or other components will be moved. You’ll know from the answers your estimator gives how experienced your potential movers are with moving valuable, sometimes irreplaceable, pieces. This also gives you the opportunity to share your preferences on how some items should be moved. Because no insurance can bring back the lost grandfather clock that was passed down over four generations, the more you know about your movers, the better.
What will happen if one of my possessions gets damaged or lost during the move?
Moving companies offer different levels of protection for your items. Full Value Protection is when your mover agrees to be liable for the full value of the lost, damaged or destroyed item. The mover can choose whether to repair or replace the item on their discretion and their liability is limited depending on how detailed a list you provide of your property.
While Full Value Protection is an upgrade you pay for, Released Value is included in every move by law. Released Value is only 60 cents per pound (a 25-pound flat-screen TV would then be valued at $15). Even though there is no fee for Released Value Protection, you must sign a contract agreeing to it in advance. Some movers offer third-party insurance as well, which is worth investigating and comparing to Full Value Protection.
Do you blanket wrap furniture, appliances and electronics?
Be careful to set your expectations based on facts, not assumptions. While most movers used to wrap delicate-surfaced items with blankets, some movers are skipping this step to save time. As low-tech as it may sound, blanket-wrapping is still considered to be the best way to transport anything that is susceptible to scratches.
What do you do to protect the walls, floors and other surfaces in my former house and my new one?
Because you want to leave your old home in great condition, and also wish to preserve the pristine walls and floors in your new house, the staff’s careful movements in and around the homes are of great importance. Listen as the estimator details the movers’ approach and make notes. If his or her description of the move doesn’t sound as thorough as you’d like, consider another mover.
Do you collect a deposit?
Federal laws require movers to charge only for services provided, so consider the demand for a deposit a red flag. Most quality moving companies don’t require a deposit, but rather ask for a credit card to be charged within two days of the move or a cashier’s check on the day of the move.
There’s already plenty to keep you occupied during a move. By asking the right questions ahead of time, you can reduce the amount of confusion, damage and stress during any move, whether that be just down the street or to another state.
Sarah Kinbar is a writer and editor with a passion for design and images. She was the editor of Garden Design magazine, curating coverage of residential gardens around the globe. As the editor of American Photo, Kinbar worked with photographers of every genre to create a magazine that told the story of the photographer’s journey.
She has been writing about architecture, landscape design and new-home construction for NewHomeSource since 2012. During that time, she founded Kinship Design Marketing, a boutique agency that provides content for website redesigns, blogs, inbound marketing campaigns and eNewsletters.