If you’ve attempted a DIY move before, you must understand how difficult it is. Many things can stress you out, like creating a plan, packing stuff, sticking with your budget, or lifting furniture. With all the chaos surrounding a move, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

And now it’s time for you to relocate again. Dreading the thought of tackling such a complex transition once again? No need when you can hire movers to save your day. Not only will these professionals smooth the process, but they will also make sure your things arrive safely in one piece.

To learn more about interstate movers, here are six critical things you should know before signing a contract with one.

1. Ask to See Credentials

The first thing to know about your potential movers is their legitimacy. Getting scammed is the last thing that you want to happen. Plus, rogue movers are becoming more cunning these days. Distinguishing them from credible ones can get quite tricky. Fortunately, checking to see if movers are the real deal isn’t that complicated. All you need to do is follow these steps:

  • Inspect their USDOT number: This number acts as a license proving that a moving company is authorized to operate by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the Department of Transportation. Once you have the number, run it on the mover search tool. If you see no complaints, proceed with the next step.
  • Refer to the BBB: Just because your movers have provided a USDOT # doesn’t mean you’re good to go. The next step is to check any complaints about your company with the Better Business Bureau, a private org that exposes moving frauds. Passing this check means your movers are somewhat credible.
  • Check online reviews: Even if your movers don’t have any problems with the authorities, testimonials will still be your most important source of feedback. If you find anything alarming, give your company a chance to explain before making a decision.
  • Ask for referral contacts: Still not convinced? The last and final check you can do is talk with your movers’ previous customers. This way, you can ensure the feedback you get comes from a real person.

2. Watch for Red Flags

Complaints or licenses shouldn’t be your only precautionary measures against moving scams. Sometimes, you can tell a company is rogue from the way they operate. Be on the lookout for these red flags :

  • Movers ask you to pay a large deposit. Legitimate moving companies will only ask for payment after the move is complete.
  • Getting a low-ball estimate. Be wary of ‘too good to be true’ prices aimed to bait you into working with rogue movers.
  • The movers don’t have a working website. Most rogue movers don’t want to leave any trace of themselves on the internet.
  • They ask you to sign blank or incomplete documents. Make sure to read the contract twice before you seal the deal.

Complaints or licenses shouldn’t be your only precautionary measures against moving scams.

3. Determine Your Needs 

Since you already know the type of your move, the next step is to clarify the details. It’ll be easier for the movers to meet your demands if you give them a clear idea of your expectations and how you want it done.

Do you:

  • Need to move special items like a pool table, safe, or piano?
  • Want to relocate precious art pieces, sculptures, or a prized wine collection?
  • Require your move to be expedited to meet deadlines?

Different households have different moving needs. Once you determine yours, discuss possible solutions with your movers. Most moving companies offer specialized services like furniture assembly, piano moving, last-minute moveing, white-glove moving, and storage.

4. Coverage Policies

Besides convenience, another reason to hire movers is for accountability. It should be your movers’ responsibility to provide compensation if anything happens to your belongings.

Unfortunately, most moving companies’ basic coverage won’t be enough to cut it. Why? Because even if it’s free, the movers will only pay $0.60 per pound of the lost or damaged item. Imagine your movers dropped and broke your $2,500 fridge then getting paid only $180 as compensation. Not cool, right?

You might want to consider getting full-value protection when moving expensive furniture and appliances. How does it work? Referring to the scenario above, your movers will have to pay you $2,500 or replace your fridge with a new one. Although this insurance requires you to pay a premium upfront, you can obtain peace of mind knowing that your belongings are coming home safe and sound.

Quick note: These two insurance types can vary from company to company. Ask your movers what kind of insurance policies they provide together with the requirements, benefits, and cost. You can also purchase moving insurance from a third party.

5. Knowing Your Estimates

Don’t bother with movers who refuse to come over and evaluate your home. Think about it. How can they give an accurate price when they haven’t seen your entire inventory? Push for an in-home physical inspection or at the very least, a virtual walkthrough. On top of that, you also have to be wary of estimates, so you know what you’re agreeing to.

Basically, there are three types of estimates:

  • non-binding estimate means the company will name a price, but they’re not obliged to honor it. Moving costs can change by the end of the move.
  • binding not-to-exceed estimate requires you not to pay extra even if your shipment’s weight exceeds the named price. However, if it weighs less, you’ll still have to pay the cost of the actual weight.
  • binding estimate means you’ll only have to pay the original price agreed by both parties. Keep in mind that although your movers can’t ratchet up the costs, they still have the right to charge you extra for additional services such as packing and cleaning.

Taking this into account, everything is fair except for the non-binding estimate. It’s the type of assessment where most complaints of hidden charges occur. You’ll want to avoid that at all costs.

Don’t bother with movers who refuse to come over and evaluate your home.

6. Filing for Claims

Not everyone’s favorite topic but definitely something you shouldn’t miss. Even if your movers are the best in the world, there’s no guarantee that they won’t make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect, after all. Therefore, you’d want an assurance in case things go south. That’s why don’t hesitate to bring up the topic for discussion. A good mover will do everything to keep your mind at ease. Make sure you take down notes as they walk you through the claims filing process. Remember, communication is key to a successful move.