May 13, 2022 by Wendy Hoke

Questions to Ask a Professional Moving Company

When you hire a professional moving company, you are putting your household goods in their care. These are your treasured memories, furniture, clothing, and other items you would be devastated if they were lost or damaged.  

It’s a daunting prospect when you are moving long-distance. Your items will be in their care for several weeks. It is so crucial to properly vet a long distance moving company. 

To help you evaluate your prospective long distance moving company, here are some key questions you should ask them before signing a contract:

  1. Is your company properly licensed?

Any moving company you select should be a member of the American Mover and Storage Association (AMSA). Long distance movers (anyone who travels outside of a single state) should also have a US Department of Transportation (USDOT) number from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 

If a potential moving company is not a member of the AMSA and does not have a USDOT or FMCSA number, keep looking. 

  1. How long has your company been in business? Can you provide referrals and recommendations?

While new companies can be reliable and provide good service, a moving company that has been around for a while is more likely to have considerable experience handling moves, as well as many reviews that you can check. 

Many companies will also provide referrals and recommendations from clients if you ask, but it is always a good idea to read their reviews to get a clear picture of their service and how they handle customer issues, such as damages or missing items. 

  1. What kind of liability coverage or insurance is available?

No matter how experienced and professional a company is, mistakes and accidents can happen. It’s essential that you make sure the moving company you select is insured and that you sign up for the right level of protection. 

The standard level of liability protection provided upon signing most moving contracts is 10 or 60 cents per pound per item, depending on service level. This will typically not cover the full cost of high-value items. So, if you are shipping especially valuable or expensive items, you should sign up for a higher level of insurance through your mover or a third-party provider to ensure that you can recoup the cost of those belongings. 

Ask your potential moving company to go through the differences in the insurance plans they offer, or ask them to provide you with a detailed breakdown so you clearly understand the difference and know what you are purchasing.  

  1. Can you provide an on-site binding written estimate?

A reputable long distance moving company should be able to provide an on-site or video call estimate. Quotes given over the phone or via email without seeing what you are moving are not as reliable and may end up being too low with additional charges added to your bill upon delivery. During their visit or video survey, make sure you point out any things that might make your move difficult, such as tight stairwells and awkward-to-carry belongings. 

Your written estimate should include: 

  • Their company name, telephone number, and address 
  • The estimated charges 
  • Payment method 
  • Moving dates 
  • The date of signing 
  1. What services are considered extra and how much do they cost?

Some movers will add charges for what they consider to be extra services. Before you sign a contract, find out if there are any additional fees or for what services these fees might apply so you aren’t surprised by unexpected charges later. 

Some companies may charge extra for: 

  • Packing services 
  • Shuttle services – if either your departure or destination site aren’t accessible to their truck, they will have to arrange for a shuttle service 
  • Flight charges – for flights of stairs 
  • Long carry fees – if the load has to be hand-carried over a certain distance 
  • Parking issues 
  • Storage-in-transit fees – for items that can’t be unloaded upon arrival 
  • Warehouse handling 
  • Fuel charges – this will typically only come up if you are moving to a remote area 
  • Disassembly 
  • Awkward items 
  • Difficult to access doorways 
  • To avoid as many additional charges as possible: 
  • Reserve a parking spot or arrange for a space for the moving truck to park 
  • Book an elevator in advance 
  • Have your home move-in ready 
  1. What is your cancellation policy?

Before you book your movers, find out how much of your deposit is refundable, how soon in advance you would need to cancel or reschedule your move, and if you will be reimbursed if for any reason the company has to cancel or reschedule your move. 

  1. Do you use subcontractors and will there be transfers?

If the moving company you are speaking to uses subcontractors, they may be able to provide you with the names of the subcontractors that they are working with so you can check their reviews as well. They should also be able to tell you whether or not your items will be transferred onto a new truck at any point. 

For less-than-truckload (LTL) long-distance moves, your belongings will likely change trucks and possibly subcontractors more than once as they move through the shipping network in order to save on costs. This way, multiple shipments from various shippers headed in the same direction can be transported together or split up as needed and moved onto different trucks at their respective transfer and delivery sites. 

Final Thoughts 

Preparing for a long-distance move takes considerable planning. It can be overwhelming getting everything organized, packed, and arranged, and choosing the right mover to help with your relocation can feel especially daunting. Make sure you find a reliable long-distance moving team that will help you coordinate your move and lessen some of your stress.  

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