How to Choose a Moving Company

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

So you’re moving!  Changing residences can be a very exciting experience, but it takes a lot of hard work to pack up your home and orchestrate the move.  One of the best things you can do to ease your workload during this time is to identify and hire an excellent moving company.  The right mover can help make your move a seamless, stress free experience.

How do you find the right moving company?

Here are some pointers, compliments of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Canadian Association of Movers (CAM) and the Office of Consumer Affairs, Industry Canada:

Identify reputable movers through the BBB and/or CAM.  The CAM will send you a list of recommended movers, and the BBB can provide you with a reliability report on those in which you have an interest.

Talk with several moving companies about their capabilities.  Find out whether they use their own trucks and equipment, where they store items if storage is necessary and if they have any limitations on what they will move. Also ask for written material regarding customer and mover rights and responsibilities.

Get estimates, in writing, and references from your top three choices.  Reputable movers will want to inspect your belongings to provide a comprehensive quote; if they don’t suggest an inspection, consider moving them off of your preferred list.  Be prepared to provide detailed information about the location of your old and new residences, any obstacles the movers may encounter during the move (such as stairs that require special navigation) and any special arrangements that might be required for moving delicate or extremely large pieces, such as a piano.

Feel free to negotiate the quoted rate, but beware of estimates that are significantly lower than the others.  They might indicate poor service quality or hidden fees that you will discover during the move.  Also be cautious of movers who accept only cash payments and those who don’t apply the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to their estimate.  These are indicators of unscrupulous business practices.

Discuss the movers’ liability policies.  Ethical moving companies recognize that it’s important for customers to understand how their possessions will be protected and know how to file a claim should any of them be lost or damaged.  Find out the level of liability insurance the mover carries in case items are lost or damaged; it’s usually not enough to cover the value of your items. Ask how much it would cost you to buy replacement value protection, a plan through which the moving company agrees to assume liability for the full value of your belongings.  (Also ask how claims are filed and how quickly they are reimbursed.)

Then check with your licensed insurance representative to find out what damages or losses your homeowner’s policy covers and what your deductible is.  It would be a good idea to also review any policy exclusions at this time.  You will be able to determine if it makes more sense to go with the replacement value protection or rely on your own insurance policy.

Get details about packing.  Ask the moving company who is responsible for packing and how liability might change for owner-packed versus mover-packed items.  How should owner-packed boxes be labeled?

Once you understand how various moving companies operate, and you’ve reviewed their references and reliability reports, you should be able to select a company that’s ideal for your move.