1. When should I contact a moving company?
Even for short or small moves, you will want to plan ahead. Two or three months before you move is a great time to start planning and securing a quality moving company. You’ll have time to shop around for estimates, check reliability and quality. The best movers will be able to provide advice on how to make your move as smooth as possible. Make sure to look for licensed, professional movers with experience – good movers will be able to provide packing and prep advice to make your move as smooth as possible. The best way to find a reliable mover is to ask for referrals from friends, family, or co-workers who have personal experience with a moving company.
2. Do I need an estimate?
Yes. Any professional moving company should be willing to provide a basic estimate, typically based on the rooms in your home, the distance involved, and the services required. The estimate should outline all possible charges and be in writing. Although you need this in writing and do not want to enter into an agreement over the phone, an email agreement works just fine and is considered a legal contract.
3. When is the best time to move?
It is best to avoid moving on the weekends and during the summer months as those are generally the most expensive times. Fewer people move during the winter months, meaning movers are more available and you generally can get the best rates then. Moving during the middle of the week, even during the summer, often offers the same benefits, as most people move Friday – Monday.
4. How long does it take to move?
This is a tough question to answer because every home is different. A two-bedroom, single family home can sometimes be quicker than a one-bedroom hi-rise apartment. A professional, experienced mover will be able to provide a fairly reliable time estimate based on your specific situation. You should be asked what type of residence you’re in AND the type of residence you’re moving into (apartment, single-family home, city street, residential neighborhood), if there are stairs inside or outside of the home, availability of parking, the rooms in your home (including garage or storage room), if furniture will need to be taken apart, etc. Also to be considered are the types of items being moved – the more items packed neatly into boxes, the quicker it is to load and unload the truck. All of these factors, and of course, the distance of your move play a big role in the time it takes to move.
5. How do you determine what my move will cost?
This, too, varies based on your specific circumstance, but again, any quality, experienced mover should be able to give a reliable estimate once you’ve answered a few simple questions. Make sure you ask some questions too – such as whether expenses such as moving blankets are included in the cost. The best moving companies will include these in the estimate. Also you can ask how time is billed – do they round up to the next hour or half-hour (e.g., if you finish up at 5:05pm, do you pay for the whole 5:00-6:00pm hour)? There is no right or wrong answer, but you’ll want to know upfront – and a reputable moving company will let you know.
6. How and when should I pay?
Typically, once you’ve gotten a cost estimate you have 1-2 days to reserve the time slot in that estimate, at that price. Once you make the reservation, you would also make a deposit, ensuring that the company reserves that time and the appropriate truck and manpower for your move. The amount of this deposit may vary, depending on the specifics of your move. The remainder of the payment will be due immediately upon completion of the move – reliable, professional moving companies will not ask for payment until the move is complete. You’ll want to have some cash on hand if you would like to tip your movers.
7. Is a moving company “licensed” and “insured”?
Most professional moving companies are licensed and insured – you may also hear the term “bonded,” too. Bonded means that they have a business license, have the proper industry insurance, and have made payments to a surety company for protection against business losses. Keep in mind that this is not the insurance that covers your belongings, which is listed below. You can easily verify if a moving company is licensed by checking with the BBB or other regulatory agency.
8. What does moving insurance cover?
Industry standard moving insurance is called “released value coverage.” It pays .30 – .60 cents per pound, and is reimbursement based on weight, and whether the item is damaged and repairable, or destroyed. This insurance does not cover damage to floors, fixtures, or walls. Be careful if a moving company says they are providing more coverage as they can not. Only you as the consumer can purchase additional coverage. Many dishonest companies will exaggerate their coverage in order to get your business, when in reality you have no better coverage than any other insured moving company and in fact no more coverage then if you took them to small claims court and a judge ruled in your favor for the maximum legal amount. It is good to know there is only one type of moving insurance provided by moving companies and the amount of coverage is determined by law. Any company overselling “their insurance” could be a sign of an unprofessional, unreliable company.
9. Can you get more insurance for your belongings?
Yes. The best insurance is to pack your items with care, and to work with professional, experienced companies like DC Top Choice Movers that take pride in providing safe, stress free moves. But, if you have very fragile or expensive items, or a long multi-day move you as the consumer can buy what is called “full value replacement” insurance at an additional cost. A reputable moving company will be able to point you in the direction of a 3rd party vendor that can offer this protection at additional cost.
10. What are the limits of “full value replacement” insurance?
This insurance offers a maximum replacement value of $100 per pound, as mandated by by the Surface Transportation Board, the federal organization that oversees moving companies and insurance companies. It is important to note that even with “full value replacement” insurance, items such as antiques and jewelry may not be fully covered, unless they are listed separately on shipping documents as their value can exceed $100 per pound. Also it is important to note that this type of insurance is for the actual moving process, and items packed by the moving company during that process. This means that items damaged while in storage will not be covered, and unless a box shows significant damage, you are not likely to be covered for damage to any items inside if you are the one that packed the box. This insurance also does not provide coverage in the event of “natural disasters,” such as fire, hurricane, tornado, windstorm, hail, etc. Please make sure to read any contract carefully and discuss the limitations with your moving company and the insurance provider – as there may be further restrictions specific to that company’s insurance policy.
11. Other options to protect/insure your belongings?
In addition to the limited insurance offered by a reliable, professional moving company, if you already have a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, you may have a limited amount of coverage through those policies for your belongings. Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance can definitely be of benefit for any damage to floors, walls or fixtures during the move. It’s a good idea to review your coverage with your insurance company as sometimes a small increase in price can offer a lot of protection.