How to Choose a Mover
When researching a potential company to handle your moving and storage needs, find out the following information:
- Is the company registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services?
- How long has the company been in business?
- Does the company offer extra services, such as packing, unpacking and storage?
- 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 mover have a good reputation for settling claims?
- Does the company offer arbitration for claim disputes?
- Does the company have a good record of meeting its delivery schedules?
- Can the company provide proof of worker’s compensation coverage, general and legal liability coverage?
Two to six weeks before your planned move date, have at least three movers come to your home and provide you with a detailed estimate. The mover’s estimator should actually see the items to be moved so that a reasonable and accurate estimate can be provided. While phone and internet estimates can be a useful tool for a rough estimate, they are no substitute for having a trained and experienced estimator come to your house in person.
The Cost of your Move will Depend On
- Distance involved (generally applicable for long distance moves).
- Time involved (generally applicable for local moves).
- Volume of Shipment.
- Weight of Shipment.
Additional services requested, such as packing, storage and unpacking of goods.
Special services required, such as long carries, stairs and elevators, and appliance servicing.
- Declared value of the goods to be moved.
When a moving company does the packing, they not only charge you for the labor to pack or unpack your goods but also the containers and packing materials used. You may be able to perform some of the packing yourself. Ask your mover if a do-it-yourself packing guide is available.
Here are some tips for successful packing:
- Allow four weeks to pack; the task can be much more time consuming than it appears.
- Consider packing less valuable items yourself and having the mover pack the rest.
Suitable boxes may be found at local merchants. Do not use plastic bags or boxes that cannot be closed and sealed.
Pack properly— do not exceed the box’s weight rating (should be stamped on the box).
- Pack heavy items in small boxes and light items in large boxes.
- Wrap fragile items in tissue or bubble wrap.
- Number each box and keep an inventory list of the contents.
- Mark each box with the room in the new house where they should be placed.
If you choose to have movers pack your goods, this will be done before the actual moving day (usually one or two days prior). Make plans to be there to observe and provide direction. The more involved you are with your mover, the better the process is likely to go.
Be aware that delays can occur. Before the packers arrive, make sure you have set aside any personal items you will want to take with you, including such things as medicines. If you will need something immediately when
you arrive at your new home, take it with you - do not pack it.
Before you sign the packing order, make sure all items you want moved are packed and that the carton count matches the packing order form.
What are my Rights?
Prior to providing you with any moving services, your mover must supply an estimate and contract, in writing. The estimate and contract must be signed by both parties and include the following:
- Name, telephone number, physical address and state registration number of the mover.
- Date the contract or estimate was prepared and proposed date of the actual move.
- Appropriate pick-up and delivery address, name and telephone numbers of the shipper.
- Name, telephone number and physical address where the goods will be held, if necessary.
Itemized breakdown, description and total of all cost and services provided.
Acceptable forms of payment available.
Estimate and Contract
Intrastate movers are required to provide an estimate and a contract or service order for each move. Before signing this document, determine that the dates for packing, loading and delivery are part of the contract and provided to you in writing. Understand what the price is based upon:
- Appliance Servicing
- Cubic Footage
- Hourly Rates
- Stair/Elevator Charge
- Number of Items
- Long Carry Charges
Before you sign an estimate or contract:
- Ascertain that all 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.
Liability for Loss/Damage
Moving companies are required to assume some basic liability by carrying legal liability valuation and insurance coverage. Moving companies must also 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 in the following minimum amounts:
- $50,000—per occurrence—for a commercial motor vehicle with a gross weight of less than 35,000 pounds.
- $100,000—per occurrence—for a commercial motor vehicle with a gross weight of more than 35,000 pounds, but less than 44,000 pounds.
- $300,000—per occurrence—for a commercial motor vehicle with a gross weight of 44,000 pounds or more.
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 cents per pounds, 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.
Although the internet is a great way to investigate and compare average moving costs, it should never be used as a substitute for on-site written estimates.
You should be wary of companies who only want to operate over the telephone or the internet.
Terms to Know
Many movers will store your possessions when requested. Remember that there is a charge for storage services. You should also know that the additional handling of your goods into and out of storage increases the possibility of damages.
Except on local moves, your mover will normally write an inventory of the items being moved before loading the items on the delivery vehicle. The mover will walk through the house and place a numbered sticker on each item being moved and provides a description (including condition, or pre-existing damage) of that item.
Make sure your mover provides detailed descriptions of the pre-existing damage of each item. 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.
If You Have a Claim
Make your mover aware of your claim, in writing, as quickly as possible. The moving company can give you specific instructions on how to file a claim. If you are not satisfied with the mover’s handling of the claim or your claim is not resolved through the company’s normal claim handling process, you may file suit in a civil court or with an approved arbiter (if the mover is party to an arbitration service).
Florida Movers and Warehousemen's Association (FMWA)
FMWA was founded in 1979. Over the years, FMWA has grown to become the voice for the industry before state lawmakers.
American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA)
The American Moving and Storage Association's mission is To represent and enhance the Domestic and International Moving and Storage Industry. AMSA is a non-profit trade association established in 1936. It has an education foundation, The Moving & Storage Institute. This site will provide you with helpful information for household interstate moves.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
The mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is to increase public awareness about the household goods moving industry and decrease moving fraud by providing consumers with the knowledge and resources to plan a successful move.