Preparing to move can be exiting, but it can be overwhelming, too. There is so much to think about – packing up your life, relocating your family, maybe even a new job. But, if you are smart and organized it is something that can easily be tackled.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average person moves 11.7 times in their lifetime. And, if projections from the Census Bureau are correct, the average life expectancy for a person in the U.S. is about 78. That’s not a lot of moves in a lifetime, meaning you might make a few inexperienced mistakes.
But, this guide will help you get it right every single time by providing you with five questions to ask professional movers before heading off to your new home.
1.What Are My Rights and Responsibilities?
Movers and brokers should provide you with a written estimate of how much you are expected to pay.
Make sure everything is as clear as possible before the move. If you are moving from one state to another, moving companies are obligated by law to provide you with a statement of your rights and responsibilities. The booklet, which is also available online, outlines things like what your mover should expect of you, what you can expect of your mover and how charges are estimated. Make sure you read it carefully.
2.How Much Will This Cost?
Movers and brokers should provide you with a written estimate of how much you are expected to pay. In fact, if you are moving from one state to another, they are obligated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to do so. The estimate should include all possible charges. Keep in mind that a rate quote is not an estimate. An estimate of charges should be signed and you the customer should be provided with a dated copy of the estimate at the time of signature. Another good thing to remember is to never ever sign a blank document.
3.What Other Paperwork Will I Need?
Along with a written estimate, your moving company should provide you with three other documents: an order for service, a bill of landing and an inventory list. The order for service lists all the services the mover will perform. The Bill of Lading is the contract between you and the mover and a receipt of your belongings. The inventory list will show each item being moved and it’s condition. Do not sign blank or incomplete documents. Read everything carefully and keep copies for your records.
4.What if My Things are Damaged?
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “all moving companies are required to assume liability for the value of the goods transported, however, there are different levels of liability, and you should be aware of the amount of protection provided and the charges for each option.” So, read the fine print. Know how much your company will owe you if your things are lost and broken, since it can vary from company to company. Get a statement in writing and hold on to it.
5.What is Your Recourse if Something Goes Wrong?
Does your moving company offer a dispute settlement program? Interstate movers must provide customers with information about their dispute settlement program. That gives customers access to a neutral arbitration program that helps settle disputes. They should also offer claim forms – but remember to fill them out completely and submit them to the company right away. You can eliminate some shipment problems by keeping careful record of what is being shipped and being there in person as movers unpack all of your belongings.
There are a few things you should ask before handing your life’s belongings over to a professional moving company. Know what they are, know your rights and your move is guaranteed to be a smooth one.