5 Things You Need to Know Before Choosing a Moving Company

Posted By Terri Williams on November 17, 2016 at 5:29 pm
5 Things You Need to Know Before Choosing a Moving Company

Choosing a company to move your belongings can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be stressful.

Depending on the circumstances, moving can be an exciting experience. Whether you’re going down the street, around the corner, across town, or across the country, moving opens the door to new, memorable experiences.

However, choosing the wrong moving company can turn a simple relocation into a long and expensive nightmare. Below are five things you need to do before selecting a moving company.

1. Obtain recommendations and background checks

Ask your family and friends for their recommendations – or warnings. But don’t stop there. Real estate agents and apartment managers are also quite knowledgeable in this area.

While the recommendations are a good starting place, you should still research each recommended company online and look at consumer review sites for complaints. Recommendations are invaluable, but companies can change and that “great” company may have a new owner or new workers with a less impressive work ethic.

Michael Keaton, senior director of communications for the American Moving & Storage Association, tells GoodCall, “You can verify an interstate mover is registered with the federal government at ProtectYourMove.gov, and also check their rating with the Better Business Bureau.”

2. Get estimates from 3 to 4 moving companies

If you’ve obtained recommendations and researched the companies, you may think it’s not necessary to obtain estimates from several moving companies – just close your eyes and pick one. But since every moving event is different, the costs may also be different. Your cost may be higher because you have more items to move – which will require more time and subsequently cost more. Also, if you’re traveling a longer distance, your move may be more expensive.

However, obtaining these estimates might not be as tedious as you think. It’s generally recommended that you obtain in person estimates after movers walk through your home.

But according to Keaton, “Some movers now offer estimates based on videos and photos that you can submit online from the comfort of your own home.”

However, Keaton says consumers need to be thorough to ensure they’re showing the movers every thing that will need to be moved.

“This includes items in the attic, basement, and in sheds, garages and storage areas. You want to make sure the mover has a complete picture of everything that will be moved to get the most accurate estimates,” Keaton says.

3. Get those estimates in writing

If you’re crossing state lines, Keaton explains, “Reputable interstate movers will always give you estimates in writing and they must, by federal law, provide you with federal publications that explain the moving process as well as your rights and responsibilities.”

You should also know the 110% rule. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, movers cannot charge more than 10% over the amount they quoted you in the nonbinding estimate.

“Make sure all agreements are in writing, read everything carefully, and get a copy of anything you sign, especially the bill of lading, which is the receipt for your goods and the contract for their transportation,” Keaton advises.

4. Avoid generic language and blanks

Make sure the company has a local address listed on its website. Also, call the company’s phone number to see if the phone greeting is answered with the company’s name (for example, “Hello, this is Bob and Ted Movers”), and not generically (“This is the moving company”). If there’s no physical address and no specific phone number, you might have trouble contacting them again – and you don’t want someone driving off with your valuables under those conditions.

You also want someone with a company truck, not a U-Haul rental truck. The purpose of using a moving “company” is to have professional movers. If not, you could just call your buddies over to help you move – and pay them with beer and pizza.

In addition, don’t sign any blank or partially completed forms, and don’t let movers wait until they load the truck before they tell you how much the move will cost. It is possible that the estimate may change on the day of the move – for example, if you add more items. However, the new amount must be agreed upon before your goods are loaded into the truck.

5. Understand liability coverage options

Full replacement value protection guarantees that you will be reimbursed the full cost of damaged or lost items – or those items will be replaced or repaired. However, this plan will increase the amount you are charged.

Waiver of full replacement value protection is the most economic plan since it will not result in additional charges; however, it covers each item at no more than 60 cents per pound.

“The cost of full-value protection must be included by law in interstate estimates, so you must opt out to get the minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound, which is not recommended,” says Keaton.

Additionally, if you have a home insurance policy, you might already be covered for any losses. Check with your agent to see if moving is included in your policy; you may be able to avoid that extra charge from the moving company.


If you do your research and plan carefully, you’ll be prepared for a less stressful move. Be aware that outside of the reputable moving industry, there’s a segment of scammers who prey on people looking for a deal. Learn how to protect yourself from common moving fraud.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

You May Also Like