The 6 Important Questions You Should Ask Potential Moving Companies

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated December 29, 2021
Two contractor employees moving a table
Photo: Svitlana / Adobe Stock

Professional moving companies want to answer all of your questions—start with these six

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Researching professional and safe moving companies is a bit like dating. You start by gathering information about the company from friends and family, ask tons of questions about their reputation, and then read about them online. After you’ve met a couple of quality moving companies, you’ll ask them even more questions about their business personalities. 

Finally, you set a date after choosing the best moving company match. 

But what should you ask to find and hire the best moving company? These six in-depth questions will help you get started. 

1. What Is Your Company’s History? 

At first thought, the company’s number of years in business might not significantly impact whether or not you choose them. But consider the professional experience gained from relocating clients for decades versus a few months. A seasoned moving company knows how to handle last-minute crises like a sick truck driver, bad weather, and lost items. 

When talking with local moving companies about their histories, you’ll get a feel for what it’s like to work with them. Are they a family-run business that will treat you like one of their own? Or, is it a national company with all the bells and whistles of a modern and efficient operation? You get to decide what company philosophy works best for your move. 

2. Do You Have References?

This question is probably the most important for researching a moving company because a long list of satisfied customers is an effective safeguard against choosing the wrong company. Reputable moving companies are thrilled to share testimonials from clients who can spread the good word. Some might offer to put you in touch with previous clients. 

Of course, you can read reviews and ratings on their website, but expand your search to include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Better Business Bureau. You’ll read about their track record, complaints, and fines. Don’t forget: If someone you trust has recent experience with a moving company, you’ve hit the referral jackpot.

3. What Services Do You Offer? 

This question has a lot of answers, so try and tailor it to specify what you need from a moving company. 

  • Do you provide long-distance moving services? How many miles equals long-distance?

  • Do you offer short-distance or local moves?

  • Will you pack and ship specialty items like home gym equipment or a piano?

  • What packing materials would you use to protect my shipment? Do I have to pay extra for those materials?

  • How do you take care of our shipment while in transit?

  • Can you move into or out of a townhouse, condo, or apartment? 

  • Do you provide long or short-term storage?

  • How long does it take to calculate a moving estimate?

  • Are there additional fees haven’t we discussed?

4. What Are Your Business Practices?

Asking about a company’s business practices gives you insight into what you can expect if you work with them. If they go above and beyond for their customers, you can reasonably expect they’ll do the same with your move. 

  • Do you have federal and state (if needed) licensing? 

  • How do you work with your customers to solve disputes or complaints? 

  • Do you belong to the American Mover and Storage Association and have the ProMover designation?

  • Will you subcontract my move?

  • What are the packing restrictions on what and how I pack?

  • Do you have experience moving valuable collectibles?

  • What is the cancellation policy? What are the important dates I need to know?

  • Do you charge by the hour or a flat rate?

  • What forms of payment do you accept?

  • When do I pay the deposit and the remaining balance?

How Do You Choose Crew Members?

There’s a level of trust needed when working with a moving company crew. After all, they’ll pack and haul everything in your entire house. To help you set your mind at ease, ask about the company’s hiring practices. You can ask about background checks, drug screening, and who exactly will help with your move. Do they work for the company directly, or are they temporary employees?

5. What Kind of Estimate and Insurance Do You Offer?

Before signing a contract, it’s essential to know how the company will estimate your pack weight because it calculates how much you’ll pay. Will a moving company representative come to your house and do an inventory? Schedule a video call? Or offer you an online survey about your items? You should also consider asking how the company handles household good damage and loss so you’re aware of reimbursement for fixes or replacements.  

Binding Estimate 

The moving company writes a binding estimate in advance of the move. It clearly describes which services the company will provide and guarantees the total cost of the move. You’ll know the exact amount you’ll pay before moving. You shouldn’t have unexpected expenses with a binding estimate. 

Non-Binding Estimate

A non-binding estimate is slightly different from a binding estimate. The moving company bases its estimate on what it predicts the costs are based on the estimated weight of your household goods and mover services. They ultimately calculate the final charges on the shipment’s actual weight, which could be less, or cost significantly more. 

A guaranteed-not-to-exceed estimate is similar to a binding estimate, except you agree to pay the binding estimate cost or the actual cost of the move, whichever is lower.

Insurance

By law, your moving company has to provide released value protection insurance for free, but it covers no more than $0.60 per pound per item. If they offer full value protection (you’re paid the entire amount to fix or replace your items), it usually costs an additional 1% of the total estimated value of your household goods. You can also purchase additional coverage from a third party, like your homeowner’s insurance provider. It usually ranges from 1% to 5% of the shipment’s total value.

6. What Happens on Moving Day?

Movers holding stretch film roll near sofa
Photo: LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS / Adobe Stock

It will be busy on moving day, so everyone must be on the same page about the plan in order to work without hiccups. Ask your moving company what a typical moving day should look like.  

  • How many days or hours will my move take from start to finish? 

  • When does the crew stop for breaks and meals?

  • How do I contact the company and the driver during the move?

  • Will you deliver my goods, or do you hire a third party?

  • Should I tip the moving team?

  • How do I make the final payment?

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