How to hire an interstate moving company
Make your move easier by weeding out items you don’t need. Host a yard sale or donate unused items. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Charles T.)
If you're planning to move across state lines, it can be more involved than packing boxes and loading them into a truck. When it comes to interstate moving, there are a few things you need to know.
Unlike intrastate moving, where each state issues its own set of guidelines, companies who move belongings from one state to another are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Because of this, interstate moving companies are legally required to:
Obtain licensing by FMCSA and display their U.S. DOT number in any advertising.
Provide arbitration if consumer complaints can’t be resolved amicably. It’s important to note that FMCSA doesn’t have authority to resolve claims against a moving company. However, if a problem arises, consumers can file a complaint against the mover by calling FMCSA at 888-368-7238. Documented complaints may trigger an investigation.
Give homeowners a copy of “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” brochure, so he or she is informed before the move.
Allow homeowners to review their tariff — a list of rates and charges — for a particular shipment.
Furnish an accurate summary of their complaint handling procedures, including a phone number.
Try to downsize before you move
To help make a long-distance moving experience less stressful and less expensive, take an inventory of all your items and consider donating some of them to a charitable organization.
Moving companies charge a rate based on what they'll be moving, so having a shorter list will cost you less in the end. If you're moving large items, such as boats, motorcycles or even your car, you'll need to make sure that the mover specializes in transporting these items.
Vet your long-distance mover before you hire
When you hire a moving company to transport your household items across a long distance, reliability and reputation should top your list of priorities. A reasonable price is also important, so you'll want to get quotes from moving companies that pass your screening process and make it on to your checklist.
Recommendations from family members and friends go a long way toward pointing you in the right direction. Online reviews for long-distance moving companies are yet another great way to track down a good fit.
Questions to ask your interstate mover
Before you actually get on the phone and call prospective movers, gather as much information beforehand from referrals, by visiting their websites, and checking online review sites like Angie's List. Learn about the companies, such as how long they have been in business, and check to see that they're licensed and insured.
Once you've prepared a list of moving companies, consider the following questions before making a hiring decision:
Does the company subcontract any of their work out to other moving services? This is important to know before your precious items are on a truck halfway across the country. Do they take extra measures to properly protect fragile items from damage during transit?
How well-trained are the workers who will be packaging and moving your personal things? Do they offer the option of purchasing insurance to cover any potential damage to your things beyond a set amount? Most moving companies offer consumers a choice of options for extra insurance as protection against not only damage but also theft as well.
Get an in-person moving estimate
Once you've narrowed down your choices to a few moving companies, make appointments for their representatives to come to your home for an estimate. Although general prices can be given over the phone, a reputable moving company will want to see all the items that you'll be moving so they can provide a more accurate bid.
For more information, visit the Angie's List Guide to Moving.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of a story originially posted on March 12, 2012.