Moving across the country is an exciting adventure. You are moving from Florida all the way to Arizona, and you need to find the right moving company to help you on your way. It’s a big move, but there are good options for you. Three million Americans move from one state to another every year, and recently more people are moving into Arizona than out. The summers are hot, but the natural beauty and growing economy attract an influx of transplants from all over.
Finding a good moving company starts with research. Ask people you know, and then go further to find out as much as you can about the companies you are considering. Because moving from Florida to Arizona is interstate commerce, movers on that route are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You can gather great information on its website about what movers are required to do, and what to look out for. Because the movers must register with FMCSA, you can search for data on each company’s safety record, and any consumer complaints.
The website offers several helpful resources, including Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move, which moving companies also are obligated to furnish to you. This publication explains how moving works, and what movers will include in your estimate, inventory, order for service, and bill of lading. It details the differences between binding and non-binding estimates and why you should compare several. There is a section about the mover’s liability and the claim process, and how your actions affect your ability to collect from the mover when something goes wrong. It also discusses deliveries, including early and delayed deliveries, storage-in-transit, and weighing shipment. Finally, the brochure defines key moving industry terms and provides resources for consumers regarding disputes.
Using a moving company broker might be a good idea, but it might lead you to a scam if you aren’t careful. Moving brokers are a middleman between consumers and moving companies; they don’t perform moves. If you engage a good one, and they have robust agreements with good moving companies, you may be able to save time and money. Just watch out for red flags. Remember that brokers, like movers, must register with FMCSA and display a motor carrier number. Brokers must acknowledge that they are not moving companies, and they can only provide estimates on behalf of moving companies with which they maintain written agreements. In those instances, the forecast has to be determined by that mover’s tariff (description of fees).
In a best-case scenario, a reputable broker will get your details, so you only have to go through them once. That saves you time. Then that broker finds a mover that wants the job and is willing to take it at a reasonable price. That saves you money, so you benefit all the way around. But in a worst-case scenario, the broker asks for a large cash deposit, and the rogue mover loads up your cherished possessions and disappears.
Most of the horror stories about brokers (and movers) seem to involve fly-by-night companies that aren’t in compliance with FMCSA, so your best means of protection is to check for registration, and also check out the company with the Better Business Bureau. Online reviews may offer some insight, but they can be manipulated, so put your trust in personal recommendations if possible.
Valuation protection is like insurance, but it is coverage provided by the moving company. Hopefully, nothing will go wrong during the move, but sometimes it does. The moving company is liable for the value of the goods it is moving for you, but with limits. Your mover will offer you two choices, with some exclusions. The default valuation choice is provided at an additional cost to you and is called Full (Replacement) Value Coverage. If anything in your shipment is lost or damaged, the mover will either replace or repair it, or reimburse you for replacing it or repairing it. The cost of this coverage depends on what the shipment is worth and is something you will discuss with the mover ahead of the move. There is usually a deductible, and any item of high value (defined as over $100 per pound) must be expressly noted on the inventory.
Some consumers instead choose the Waiver of Full (Replacement) Value Coverage, which means they choose minimal coverage at no added cost. This coverage allows for reimbursement for lost or damaged items at $0.60 per pound, which will not approach the cost of most articles in your shipment. For example, your 15-pound Italian racing bike, which may cost $1,200 to replace, will be reimbursed at $9.00 with this coverage. Likewise, you will only be offered $12.00 for your 20-pound flat-screen television if it is dropped. If you select the Waiver coverage, do so with the understanding that you are betting nothing will go wrong. If anything does, you are on your own. With either coverage option, look at the fine print, and be sure that you are aware of exceptions and limitations. You are shipping your personal goods, and you want to be sure they are protected.