Finding the right moving company can pay dividends in reducing the stress of relocating your household across the country, across the state or even just across town. There are many guides available to help you. Here is a general overview to help you get started in making the right moves:
Choosing Your Mover
When researching a potential company to handle your moving and storage needs, find out the following information:
Is the company registered with the California Public Utilities Commission (for moves within California) or the U.S. Department of Transportation (for interstate moves)?
How long has the company been in business?
Does the company offer packing, unpacking, storage or other extra services?
What type of protection does the company offer against loss or damage
(full replacement cost, depreciated value, or the basic 60¢ per pound valuation
carriers are required to provide)
Does the company have a good record of meeting delivery schedules?
Does the mover have a good reputation for settling claims?
Does the company offer arbitration for claim disputes?
Can the company provide proof of liability coverage and worker's
Is there a local contact person? A company that only wants to deal with
you over the telephone or the Internet should raise caution flags.
Obtain bids and detailed written estimates from at least three movers
two to six weeks before your planned move date. Having the mover come to
your house to see the size and amount of goods involved will yield the
most accurate estimate.
Make sure all the services you requested and require are on the
estimate and contract.
Provide your delivery address and all phone numbers where you
can be contacted at origin, en route and at your destination.
Check your homeowners' insurance policy before moving to see if
you are covered for damage or loss during a move by a professional
moving company. If not, the insurance company may provide a rider to
your policy at an additional fee. You may also be able to arrange
with the mover for full depreciated or full replacement valuation.
Consider packing less valuable items yourself and having
the mover pack the rest. Keep in mind that movers generally
will not accept liability for breakage of items you pack.
Before you sign the packing order, check that all items you
want are packed and that the total carton count matches the
packing order form.
Most movers will provide detailed descriptions of the pre-existing
damage of each item being moved. If the damage description is unclear
or confusing, ask for clarification before the items are moved. Be
sure to get a copy of the inventory list and contract for your records.
Moving companies are required to assume some basic liability by
carrying legal liability valuation and insurance coverage. Moving
companies also must carry cargo legal liability coverage (loss or damage
to household goods resulting from the negligence of the mover, its employees,
or agents, in an amount not less than $10,000 per incident).
Movers must provide motor vehicle coverage, including combined bodily
injury and property damage liability coverage.
The law also provides for a limitation on the release of the mover's
liability for the value of a shipper's goods at a rate not less than 60¢
per pound, per article. Your mover must disclose this limitation of liability
to you, in writing, at the time the estimate or contract for services is
executed and prior to any services being provided to you. Your mover must
also inform you of the opportunity to reject or select additional valuation
for goods being moved.
Acting on consumer complaints in 2004, the Office of the Attorney General obtained the felony grand theft conviction of a moving company owner who refused to turn over the household goods of a Chula Vista woman until she paid more for her move to Florida.
The Attorney General also pushed for a new law that now requires movers to give customers an up-front "not to exceed" price, makes movers responsible for subcontractors and toughens penalties for unscrupulous mover practices.