How do I choose a mover?

Before hiring a mover, take the following steps to be sure you get the best deal and receive the gentlest care.
So, you're ready to pack up your worldly possessions and hit the road for new destinations when you realize you own more than will fit in a friend's pickup or a rented van.

You need a crash course on the protocols of hiring a moving company.

Before hiring a mover, take the following steps to be sure you get the best deal and receive the gentlest care.
  • Plan ahead

    The Federal Citizen Information Center advises booking your mover at least six weeks before you depart. Most people move during June, July and August, and many movers require at least 30 days' notice before pickup.

    You're likely to find the best deals between October and April. Arranging your move in the middle of a month will give you a better chance of getting the dates you want and the company's most qualified crew.

  • Choice by association

    Once you've found a mover on that fits your needs, you might want to check whether the company is a member of the American Moving & Storage Association.

  • Obtain a written estimate before your move

    You'll receive the most accurate estimate by having a moving company visit your home. This way, you can show a mover every item that's going with you. Don't forget to go to the basement, attic and garage. Obtain a written contract before the move and review its terms and conditions carefully.

  • How much will you pay a mover?

    Prices range widely among moving companies, which is why many consumer advocate groups recommend you get at least three estimates before choosing.

    Find some general estimates here.

    The price of your move will depend on several things: how many possessions you move, whether you require additional services such as packing, whether you are moving out of state, and whether your movers will have to tackle elevators or stairs or will have to move a car.

    Most movers will carry items 75 feet from the truck to the door with no additional charges. Be prepared to pay the balance in full on delivery. Some moving companies do not accept credit cards, so it's a good idea to have cash or a certified check available.

  • Get packing

    Start early if you're doing it yourself, but remember that many movers will not insure items you have packed yourself. If the mover is doing it, schedule packing a few days before the van is loaded.

  • Safe transport

    Be sure the moving companies you're auditioning offer a protection plan that covers items that need replacement or repair as a result of accidents during the move. Check all your goods carefully during unloading and before signing off on their condition.

    If you note any damages, write them down on the van driver's copy of the inventory. If you notice damages after you have unpacked, you have nine months to file a claim with the company. The company must respond with a denial or a settlement to your claim within 120 days. Check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to review your rights.

  • Precious cargo

    If possible, move valuable items yourself. Even with a reimbursement policy, you'll miss that family heirloom or antique if anything happens to it. If you can't move an item yourself, be sure to have it appraised before you entrust it to your mover.

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