Washington DC Long Distance Moving Companies
Finding the right long-distance moving company to assist with your relocation from Washington, D.C. doesn’t have to be stressful. You can follow a few helpful hints and find a perfect mover for your interstate move.
How do I find a long-distance mover in the D.C. area?
Moving companies that work on moves from one state to another are regulated by the Department of Transportation; specifically the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA. FMCSA is responsible for reducing interstate injuries and fatalities, but it also works hard to protect consumers from fraud in the moving industry. To do that, FMCSA requires that all interstate moving companies maintain up-to-date licenses with the DOT, and you can verify their status on the FMCSA website. You can also find out about the companies’ safety records and any complaints or claims filed by consumers.
If you are not sure where to start, you may want to ask people who have recently moved. If you have friends or family with recommendations, just check those companies’ credentials before you move forward. Referrals are a great way to gather ideas, but you should always dig deeper. The best way to evaluate a moving company is to meet with their representative. The FMCSA regulations require that a mover send someone to your residence to complete a visual survey of your household goods before they give you a price for your move. You can waive this requirement, but experts suggest that you go forward with this part of the process. It’s a better way to get a reasonable estimate of the move cost and a more effective method of determining whether you are engaging a trustworthy company.
The task of getting the estimate can be compared to a date—you get to know the mover’s representative and decide if you want to let that company load up all of your belongings and drive away with them. Price is important, but it is not the only crucial factor when choosing a moving vendor. Your comfort level with the people who will be performing the move is essential, so trust your instincts.
Why do I need more than one estimate?
There are a couple of reasons to get at least three in-person estimates before you choose the best DC moving company for your specific needs:
- You should compare the estimates and review what the competitors are offering. Let’s assume that you have invited three great moving companies to bid on your project. If all three are honest, reputable companies with excellent references, you will have three bids to choose from, and any one of them can do a fine job. But if a “rogue operator” slipped into the mix, once you identify that one, it is best to have others to select from, so you are not rushing to find a replacement at the last minute.
- More than one estimate shows you what the shipment is likely to weigh. If you have several estimates, and one is much higher or lower than the others, you should ask that mover to explain why their assessment is different. It could be that they have overlooked something, or it could be a set-up. If the vendor with the lowest estimate offers you a nonbinding estimate, the price you pay at delivery could end up being higher. Comparing estimates gives you a reference point.
- Talking with several movers helps you understand the industry jargon, which puts you more at ease with the process. Movers have their own vocabulary, and if you don’t know the language, it is easy to be intimidated when they throw around words like “tariff” and “valuation.” If you spend some time with moving company representatives, you will have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the terms of the trade, which levels the playing field a bit.
What does the estimate include?
Price estimates for moving have several required elements. For a long-distance move, the weight and distance determine most of the cost. The calculation starts with the mover’s assessment of the shipment’s weight, based on the survey and the inventory they created. The inventory (which some movers may call a cube sheet if they are old-school) is a list of everything you want to move. Don’t think you have scored an advantage if the mover leaves something important off the inventory; this oversight will come back to haunt you later.
The estimate must indicate whether it is nonbinding, binding, or binding not to exceed. A nonbinding estimate is not a guaranteed price. The cost can go up or down if the shipment’s weight is higher or lower than the forecast. But a skilled mover will come pretty close, and FMCSA will only allow the moving company to require payment of 110% of the estimated amount for them to deliver your shipment. If the total due is higher, the company can bill you for more later. This rule means that if the original nonbinding quote is for $5,000, but the final weight supports a charge of $7,000, the mover can require that you pay $5,500 on delivery day and must wait 30 days for the balance.
If you have a binding estimate, the price for the transportation portion of the move is not permitted to increase, even if the mover underestimated the weight. In either case, some circumstances allow additional labor charges, and the mover’s tariff will explain these in the section called impracticable operations. As with weight increases, the FMCSA limits how much movers can add to the bill on delivery day.
Finally, a binding not-to-exceed price can go down if the weight is lower than was predicted, but not up. The mover is allowed to charge a fee for preparing a binding estimate, but it is the best way to protect yourself from surprise increases in the move’s cost. The other important step is to discuss the conditions at the destination with your mover, so they will be aware of any stairs, elevators, parking issues, or other delivery obstacles that could increase the labor charges.
Estimates must also include your choices for protecting your belongings. Every interstate move has in the cost a basic level of protection. This protection may be called released value or waiver of full value, and it is minimal protection for you if something in your shipment is broken or lost. The mover does not charge you for this beyond the cost of the moving service, but they also only have to pay a small amount for anything that is destroyed. This coverage reimburses a maximum of $0.60 per pound per item, which is not sufficient for most things.
You will have the option to purchase full value or replacement value coverage from the mover for an additional fee. The charge will be determined by the mover’s formula based on the value of the items you are moving. This coverage is usually the smart choice because if something goes wrong, you want to be able to replace or repair your things. Remember that anything of extraordinary value (defined as over $100 per pound, like silverware, china, furs, antiques, and the like) needs to be listed separately on the inventory and identified with a value. Precious articles like jewelry, laptops, and currency and sentimental things like photo albums should generally not be packed into the moving truck. You should transport these with you for safekeeping and peace of mind.