Moving Companies and Moving Insurance
If you're moving into a home from a small apartment, you may just need a few friends to help you transfer your furniture and other belongings. But it's usually easier to pay a professional moving company when moving from one house to another. Choosing a mover can be difficult, since they often vary on how they charge for their services. For instance, one mover might charge a low rate for each man hour but a relatively high per-mile fee. Another mover may charge a much higher hourly rate, but tends to work much more quickly. Most movers also offer supplementary insurance (in addition to the required minimum liability coverage) to cover your belongings.
The following information will help you choose a moving company and decide whether moving insurance is worth it. See FindLaw's Buying a Home section for additional articles related to buying and moving into a new home.
How to Choose a Moving Company
Before you begin searching for a company to move your stuff, consider your particular needs. If you're just going across town, for instance, you might consider renting a truck and calling some friends to help you. But if you're going cross-country, you'll want to hire a reliable crew and make sure your belongings are well taken care of (and probably insured as well). Also, there are a number of different types of moving companies, ranging from the full-service professionals to outfits that send shipping containers to your new home after you fill them yourself.
Consider the following before you sign on the dotted line:
- There are a variety of costs associated with a move, and most moving companies will provide a free written estimate. Always make sure you understand the fine print.
- Estimates of moving costs are typically based on shipment weight and length of travel. Before you call, make sure you have a good idea of how much needs to be moved and how far.
- It is customary to tip your movers roughly 5 percent of the total bill.
Moving Insurance Basics
Professional moving companies are required by federal law to provide some level of insurance; however, additional insurance can be purchased. When you buy insurance, you're essentially making a bet that you will experience a certain amount of damage during the move. Basic moving liability insurance results in a standard coverage of about $.60 per pound per item. Thus, a 100 pound item would create a liability for the mover on that item of $60. If that 100-pound item is antique dining room table worth $5,000, then you may want to insure it.
With declared value protection or actual cash value insurance, the value of the goods is pre-determined by the owner of the goods, and the mover is liable for this declared value (or the purchase price less depreciation). So if the $5,000 antique dining room table is damaged, the mover will be liable for the cost of that damage. If it is lost or stolen, the mover will be liable for its $5,000 declared value.
Keep in mind that moving companies can take up to 120 days after receipt of any complaint to make a decision about paying on the claim.