Anyone who’s ever moved knows how daunting the experience can be. Hiring a moving company can help ease the process—but first you have to decide which one is right for you. Use these nine questions to help make the decision a snap:

1. Is the company certified and insured?

Companies that conduct interstate moves must have insurance and a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) permit issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You can see if a company has certification by checking the FMCSA’s website. Note that if a company only operates in your state, it may have separate state certification or require no certification at all.

Finding out about insurance can be a challenge; a general rule is to ask the company directly for proof of insurance and coverage options offered if insurance isn’t available. If insurance does exist, Full Value Protection and Released Value Protection should be offered as your coverage options.

If you pay for Full Value Protection, your mover is liable for the replacement value of lost or damaged items. Coverage options include:

  • repairing the item
  • replacing with a similar item
  • making a cash settlement for the item’s repair or current value

Released Value Protection is a free option in which the mover assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound per item. However, you typically must sign a specific statement on the contract agreeing to it, otherwise your shipment will automatically be moved (and charged) at the Full Value Protection level.

2. Are there references from satisfied customers?

In addition to the references supplied by the mover, check social media and review sites (such as Angie’s List or Yelp) to gauge whether a moving company has truly impressed its customers.

3. Does the company offer helpful moving advice?

A good moving company should be concerned with more than just their bottom line and getting your belongings from point A to point B. They should be able to offer useful advice, like staging boxes for easy loading or how to organize loose items if working with a full-service mover.

4. How long has the company been in business?

Longevity doesn’t always equal quality, but it takes experience to move people the right way. A new start-up might be too inexperienced to provide the service you may expect, but companies that have been around for decades might have stopped caring about their customers years ago. Work around this by balancing the company’s age with your research on customer satisfaction.

5. For a local move, how are charges determined?

Does the company charge by the hour, by the number of movers needed or by the weight of the items transported? Be sure to find out how many movers will be assigned to your move—the more there are, the quicker it will go.

6. Can somebody stop by for an estimate?

The answer to this should be “yes.” Even if you’ve moved before and know what costs you’re about to incur, it’s still best to get an in-home estimate in order for you to gauge the character of your prospective moving company.

7. Who does the packing?

Some companies don’t cover damages if you pack the goods yourself. That said, packing services can be expensive. You’ll need to weigh the cost of professional packing compared to the time and effort it would take for you to pack everything yourself.

8. Do I understand the terms of the contract and have it in writing?

To ensure you and the mover are aligned on the terms of the move, you should have a written contract that you both sign. Have the company explain your quotes and provide you with all the relevant terms and conditions. While smaller in-state moves are sometimes done without contracts, it’s safest to have due diligence and only go forward with a company that provides a contract.

9. What are considered extra services, and what’s the charge for them?

For instance, does the company charge for travel time to and from your home? Are packing supplies included? Be sure to address these questions ahead of time to avoid unpleasant surprises when it comes time to settle the bill.

Picking a moving company doesn’t have to add stress to your experience. After all, you’ll be moving to a new home. Learn more about home buying, budgeting assistance and mortgage options as you prepare to purchase a new home.

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