Moving Made Easy

12 Steps to Hiring a Mover

How to find a reliable mover who fits your budget (and won’t lose the truck).

By Adam Bluestein
Cardboard BoxPeter LaMastro

 

7. When you’ve gotten all your estimates in, compare the bids. Be wary of any company that comes in much lower than the others. Look at high bids to see where the extra costs are coming from. Call and ask questions if you don’t understand anything. If you have several reasonable-sounding bids from reputable companies, don’t be afraid to negotiate to get the best possible rate. Especially in a market where there’s lots of competition, most movers will work with you on pricing.

8. Now check out the contenders in more detail. Take the information you’ve gathered and get back online. First, make sure they’re incorporated in your state―and confirm how long they’ve been in business―by checking your secretary of state’s office. Some have searchable databases of businesses online; if not, call the number in the government pages of the phone book.

9. Next, make sure your moving company has the license and insurance it needs to move you legally. (Yes, there are movers who solicit business without the legal authority to do so.) Go to safersys.org, the website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and enter the company’s USDOT number and click on “Search” (you can also search by name or MC number). If you have an accurate DOT number, you’ll be shown a screen with lots of information on the company. Here’s what to look for:

  • The company’s name, address, and phone numbers. Are they the same ones the company gave you?
  • The “Out of Service” field, at the upper left of the form, should say “No.”
  • The fields labeled “Power Units” and “Drivers” tell you how many trucks and drivers the company has. A company that claims to do 100 moves a month but has only two trucks deserves skeptical treatment.
  • Under “Operation Classification,” there should be an X next to “Auth. for Hire.”
  • Under “Carrier Operation,” if you are moving out of state, there should be an X next to “Interstate.”
  • Under “Cargo Carried,” there should be an X next to “Household Goods.”
  • Farther down, in the “Inspections/Crashes” section, you should be concerned if the company’s average is much higher than the national average shown. In the “Safety Rating” section, if there has been a review, the results should be “Satisfactory.”
  • At the bottom of the page, click on the “FMCSA Licensing & Insurance site” link. On the next page, click on either the “HTML” or the “Report” button under “View Details” to get to the “Motor Carrier Details” page. Under the column “Authority Type,” there are three listings: “Common,” “Contract,” and “Broker.” The “Authority Status” column to the right tells you if the company’s authority is active. At least “Common” should be listed as active, with “No” under “Application Pending.”
  • In the next table down, there should be a “Yes” under “Household Goods.”
  • The bottom table contains insurance information. A moving company is required to have both bodily-injury and property-damage (BIPD) insurance ($750,000 minimum) and cargo insurance filed. Under the heading “Insurance on File,” BIPD should be at least $750,000, and “Cargo” should say “Yes.”
  • You can also call the FMCSA to get information on the status of a company’s licensing (202-366-9805) and insurance (202-385-2423).
 
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