Questions to Ask Your Movers for Your Relocation
Moving can be a tough job, whether a short distance or not.
If you are relocating a significant distance and will be using a moving company for your household goods there are critical questions you need to ask during the process of selecting the best moving company. It’s a big job and it’s not inexpensive so this is a key decision for you.
I’ve moved a bunch of times using moving companies, and have worked with many clients who have as well so I’ve learned a few things. First, before the essentials, a few tips:
1. Get more than one estimate if at all possible, time permitting. This may be required if you are moving with a relocation package (see information on moving with a relocation package below). Keep in mind that this is only an estimate based on the mover’s assessment of the weight of your goods and any services, e.g., packing. The truck will be weighed once loaded to determine a more accurate estimate. The actual travel distance may be factored in as well.
2. Keep in mind the overall picture – while cost is important, and can vary from mover to mover, there are a host of other factors that weigh in on the best mover for your situation, and timing.
3. Check on moving company recommendations from others you know and trust as part of the selection process.
4. Keep a file of all your communications, paperwork, questions, notes, and receipts for your move (either hard copy, online or both). You may need this for taxes since there can be deductions for certain moving costs if you meet the IRS guidelines (check with your accountant - NOTE - tax laws have changed since this was written). The relocation company will also likely require all receipts for any reimbursement, if applicable, or they may do a direct bill.
5. Be prepared for your discussions with potential movers with the following information – date you can be out of your house and/or the date you must vacate by in accordance with your sales contract; date you can be or must be in your new location, whether a new home or condo or temporary housing
Moving with a Relocation Package
This is not intended as a complete discussion of all you need to know when moving with a relocation package, since terms and conditions can vary tremendously. If you are not using a relocation package in your move you can skip this section and go right to the mover questions.
The relocation package, along with an offer letter from your new or current employer, should set forth all the details of what the package includes, key contacts (at your employer and at the relocation company), and your responsibilities.
I strongly suggest talking with the key contacts early on so you know what is expected, what is paid for upfront, what is reimbursed and how, and so on.
Regarding movers, the relocation company may have approved vendors for you to choose from, or you may be permitted to select several companies to obtain estimates. In all likelihood the final moving company selection will be the relocation company’s, or perhaps your employer’s.
Here are the essentials to ask the moving companies you are interviewing and obtaining estimates from.
What dates are you available to move us (pack, load, move)?
Depending on your situation, the mover’s availability (consider their schedule, plus holidays/weekends), the size of your home, the amount of furniture and other household goods, and the mover’s way of doing things, you may have separate dates for packing and loading the truck. If movers will be doing all the packing then you can expect more time will be necessary, perhaps a whole day or more, to complete this.
Loading a truck can take a lot of time as well, depending on quantity of boxes and furniture, the number of movers, and whether a shuttle truck is needed to transport goods from your home to the main moving van (e.g., in the case of your house being located where a large truck cannot access, say a very steep hill).
Movers may load the truck after they have packed everything, and once the van is loaded, leave right away for the new destination. You want to know about this so you can plan your travel and vacating the house.
Movers may or may not have a lot of flexibility in move dates, especially at the end of the month. And once dates are agreed on with them it may not be easy, or even possible, to change them. So make sure you can work with the dates the mover has available in terms of when you must vacate your home and move into your new home or temporary housing, and plan accordingly.
You will also want to ask about expected date(s) of arrival in the new location. This will depend on distance, but may also be affected if they are moving more than one load on the van and have to deliver someplace else first, as well as issues that car arise with weather, in particular in the winter when moving across the country. They may be able to give you a precise date, or it may be an estimated arrival date and time or window of dates.
Is there an additional charge for packing/unpacking?
You will want to find out if they charge extra for packing and/or unpacking – you should expect that they will. You may do some or all of the packing yourself depending on your personal situation. Ask about how long this will take. Most people tend to unpack boxes, but movers will generally disassemble beds and such and reassemble in the new location.
Will you provide boxes for me to use for my packing, will you deliver, and is there a charge?
Boxes for packing are a big deal when moving. If you are packing yourself you can find them on Craigslist (sometimes for free), at Home Depot (for a cost), and elsewhere. You can also often get them from moving companies in advance (normally for a fee) and they may deliver, or might have a facility where you can pick them up.
What insurance is provided and what does this cost?
Insurance for your precious personal goods is a big issue and you want to understand completely what the moving company will provide and how that is determined, as well as limits to the insurance and any exceptions.
You should also check with your home owner’s insurance to find out about coverage while in transit or storage, etc. since that may provide the additional coverage needed,
Find out if there is additional insurance available, what that costs, and what can be covered (e.g., art work, a vehicle, antiques, etc.). In my experience the mover will want to know about high cost items – what they are and what is the estimated value – so they can determine costs for the move but also for insurance purposes.
Also check to find out if boxes you pack (commonly referred to as PBO or “packed by owner”) are covered under the mover’s insurance. In my experience they are not (but they may be covered under your home owner’s policy).
What is the cost of additional insurance for expensive items (e.g., art work, antiques)?
I have pretty much answered this above but check to see if your home owner’s insurance will cover these items, especially if you already have a policy rider. You may need to purchase additional insurance riders to make sure any damages are cover.
I would suggest taking photos of higher cost items for your records, in addition to providing the mover with a list of high ticket items.
Is there anything you cannot ship?
In my experience movers will take all kinds of things, but no doubt there are exceptions. You need to know what cannot be shipped so you can plan how to offload these items before you move. This might include hazardous waste (paint, oil, gardening chemicals), certain equipment (a lawnmover) or other items you might own.
Will the mover ship specialty items and are there additional costs for these?
Let’s say you have a couple of canoes or kayaks, surf boards, one or more motorcycles, a sail boat, snow mobiles, skidoos, tractors, or other similar items. Will the mover take these, and, if so, what are the costs and insurance coverages.
Is a specialty mover need for things like a sail boat, and will the mover coordinate this with your standard move? What about horses or livestock? That likely requires special handling!
Do you provide storage at my new location until I can move into my new home? What does this cost and for how long?
Storage at the new location is an important issue to discuss. This may be needed if you cannot move into you new home when the van arrives, if you are in temporary housing that is smaller, or perhaps your temporary place is furnished. You will want to know where your good will be, what the fees will be, and if you will have access to your storage area. Plus you want to know if the moving company has a limit on how long they will store your goods and if they will make a second deliver, and what that cost might be.
Can you make more than 1 drop off (e.g., my new house and a storage unit)? What is the cost?
If you need to deliver some things to your new home or a temporary living arrangement plus to a storage unit is there a charge for this. And find out the fee and arrangement if you need to collect items put into storage.
Will you ship my car(s)?
Moving companies may handle shipping one or more cars in different ways, so ask how this will be handled and any additional cost and insurance coverage.
I had one vehicle actually loaded onto the van, but in another cross country move the car was placed on a trailer and was towed by the van.
Depending on your vehicle (how about an antique car or a high-end sports car like a Ferrari) you want to know how it will be transported and what the insurance coverage will be. And also check on your auto insurance to see if they will cover the cost of a coverage during a move and storage – no doubt you do not want your auto insurance policy to lapse in the event of damage or theft while en route. Plus you should find out if the vehicle be protected while being transported or not. And can it also be stored at the end destination if necessary, and, if so, where and how much does that cost?
Some movers will use a separate company to transport the vehicle(s) so you need to know what those arrangements are, how to coordinate with your move, where the car gets picked up, costs, and insurance coverage.
How long will it take for my household goods to arrive in my new location?
It’s important to understand when your goods will arrive in the new destination so you can plan your travel and your arrival time. It may be less important if you will be in furnished temporary housing in the new location, but if you are moving into a vacant house you will obviously want your furniture, etc. Be sure you will have access to your new home before the movers arrive. Keep in mind that while the movers may provide a project arrival date it can change if they run into travel issues with weather, the truck breaks down, or there are other deliveries or pick-ups along the way. A cross country trip could take 6 – 8 days for the moving van.
If you would like to have a copy of my Questions to Ask Your Movers Checklist, please give me a call (760-840-1360) or email me at JeffDowlerSolutions@gmail.com.
If you need more relocation tips, why not check out my Relocation A to Z Blog or give me a call at (760) 840-1360. I am happy to help you from start to finish in your relocation here to Southern California.
And if you are moving elsewhere, I can help there, too. I have a great network of highly qualified agents around the country and refer you to the right agent to help you find your new home plus sell your current one.