1. Verify a mover’s identity to know who you’re dealing with.
Look for red flags that something may not be right, such as:
- No physical address or phone number online, just a “Contact Us” feature
- You’re quoted a very low price that seems too good to be true
- No federal motor carrier (MC) number is shown.
- If there is an MC number, it doesn’t match with the searchable database available on the AMSA website or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) website.
- AMSA makes verification easy for you with the ProMover program, so always choose among companies displaying the ProMover logo for interstate moves.
- If it’s a move within your state, look for companies that are a member of your state’s moving association. California, Florida, and Michigan also have state-level ProMover programs.
2. Get at least three written in-home estimates.
Be wary of any “guaranteed” estimates offered over the phone or online. Instead, ask to have someone come over in person. Get more than one written estimate. If a mover insists that they can provide a “final” estimate over the phone without ever seeing your home and your furniture, choose another mover.
Check the company’s ratings with the Better Business Bureau, or other consumer websites such as Angie’s List. Ask family and friends for referrals.
4. Know your rights.
Your rights for an interstate move are spelled out in two federal government publications, Ready to Move? and Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move. Federal regulations require your mover to give you a copy of the first brochure with all written estimates for interstate moves.
When you agree to hire a mover, you must then receive a copy of Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move, a second booklet that goes into more detail. You must also receive information on the arbitration program that the mover participates in.
Most state governments regulate movers who operate within that state. For a local move, check with your state moving association or your state consumer affairs office for details.
5. Understand the level of liability, or valuation, your mover would be responsible for in case of loss or damage.
The cost of full-value protection must be included by law in interstate estimates. You must “opt-out” to get the minimum coverage of 60 cents per pound, which AMSA does not recommend. This is a different product than traditional insurance written by a third party.
6. Avoid large down payments.
Although some movers may ask for a small “good faith” deposit to hold a date, especially during the busy summer season. Be wary of carriers seeking large down payments, or payment in advance for any reason.
Make sure all agreements between you and your mover are in writing. Get a copy of everything you sign, especially the most important document, called the bill of lading. Never sign any blank forms.
7. Take valuables with you.
Cash, coins, jewelry, photographs, and important papers should be taken with you or sent ahead separately.
8. Be reachable by phone.
Make sure the mover has your cell phone number and can reach you during your move, in case there is any unforeseen change in your delivery schedule.
9. Know your driver.
Be sure to have the driver’s full name, ID, and truck number to allow for fast, accurate communication.
10. Ask questions.
If you do not understand something, ask. The moving business has its own complex terminology. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers to your questions or the mover hesitates when you ask for clarification, talk to another carrier.
American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA)