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Washington DC Local Moving Companies

 

Finding a local mover in D.C. offers challenges that you don’t encounter in most places. The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is unique in several ways—geographically, politically, and demographically. Your local move might take you across state lines or never into a state at all. These factors influence the web of regulations that moving companies in the area follow, and as a consumer, you want to make sure that you engage a mover that has followed the appropriate rules.

How do I find the right local mover in the D.C. area?

Because Washington, D.C. sits in the middle of several jurisdictions, you may have trouble figuring out what body your moving vendor is accountable to. It will depend on which part of the area you are moving around in. Since the city itself is a District and a City, but not part of a state, movers conducting business exclusively within the city limits only need a business license and liability insurance. But it’s unlikely that many companies will limit their operations to that footprint. If they cross a state line, which seems likely, then they are under the authority of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA, which governs interstate moves.

On the other hand, if the company performs local moves exclusively within Maryland or Virginia, adjacent to D.C. proper, it would be subject to those states’ authority. In Virginia, moves of less than 30 miles are considered local, and the movers can bill the consumer for such jobs by the hour. For distances over 30 miles, but still intrastate, moving companies must provide their tariffs and an estimate based on the shipment’s weight. Maryland does not currently regulate moving companies. A new law requiring them to register with the DMV is now on the books has not been fully implemented.

Should I hire a regulated company?

The strong protections provided by FMCSA help ensure that consumers don’t encounter rogue operators when choosing a moving company. This means that if your local move in the D.C. area does cross a state line, and you stick with moving companies who meet the interstate commerce requirements, you probably have a better chance of not dealing with a scam. It’s not a guarantee, of course. And there are plenty of reputable local movers that aren’t subject to the FMCSA requirements as well. One thing to keep in mind is that the FMCSA site can tell you f the mover you are considering has an up-to-date license and what its safety history and record of consumer complaints look like. This information is useful when choosing a vendor. FMCSA also has valuable resources to help you select a moving company, prepare for a move, and protect yourself from fraud.

The interstate movers must provide you with a written estimate of the move’s cost based on an in-person survey of the items you want to be shipped. To do this, the company will send a representative to your home or apartment to walk through with you and look at everything included. They will predict the total weight and discuss the services you want them to provide in addition to transportation. The mover will compose a rate quote that includes all the factors and is either a binding quote (the price won’t increase, even if the weight is higher than estimated) or a nonbinding quote (not a guaranteed price).

What other services are on the estimate?

The shipment’s weight or the time required to complete the move is usually the most significant component of a move’s cost. Other factors are the services you ask for and things that increase the labor needed. For example, if you want the movers to pack your goods and load them, that is a lot of additional work. Movers are professionals, so they can pack glassware, dishes, linens, and other things more quickly and efficiently than you can, most likely. Keep in mind that they won’t be deciding what should get tossed aside as they go along, so everything gets packed. This choice eliminates an excellent opportunity for you to reduce what you are taking with you as you move. On the other hand, paying the movers to pack does ensure that your belongings are packed correctly, and if something breaks, the movers are responsible for the damage.

How do I get reimbursed if something breaks?

Questions about liability for damage and conflicts about losses are the cause of many complaints against moving companies. If the move is not interstate, make sure that you check with the mover about their responsibility. Some states and localities have requirements, and others do not, so you want to ask in advance. Don’t assume, and don’t accept a vague assurance that “everything is covered.” Get details in writing and decide ahead of time how much coverage is sufficient for your peace of mind.

If the move is across state lines, you still have to decide how much coverage you need before signing the contract. Movers will include two choices in the estimate that they provide to you. The default choice, referred to as “released value” liability, is included in the move’s cost at no additional charge. It is limited and will most likely not provide an adequate amount to replace something you lose. This level’s limit is $0.60 per pound and is calculated by item or by the carton. Most of your possessions will be impossible to repair or replace with that allowance if something happens. For example, if your flat-screen television weighs twenty pounds, a $12.00 reimbursement will not be enough to replace or repair it.

In the estimate, the mover will offer a second option, usually referred to as Full Value or Replacement Value coverage. This protection level will replace items lost or damaged (with some exceptions) up to the declared value of the shipment. The catch is that this is not included in the move’s price, you must pay extra for it, and most likely, there will also be a deductible. The exceptions to coverage are for items that you packed (if the box is not damaged, but something inside is, then the mover will claim that it was not adequately packed) and anything of extraordinary value that was not declared. Extraordinary value is generally anything worth over $100 per pound, so make sure that you list precious items individually and agree with your mover on a total value for the shipment.

Whichever coverage option you select, inspect your shipment when you receive it so you can determine if everything is accounted for and intact. If there are any discrepancies, contact your mover directly to see if the issue can be resolved, and file a claim if necessary. For local moves in the City of Washington, D.C., or inside Virginia or Maryland, double-check the time limits for filing a claim. If the local move is state to state, you have nine months from the delivery date in which to do so.

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