3 Questions to Ask the Movers Before Getting an Interstate Move Quote

Moving out of state can fill you with excitement, but it can also leave you overwhelmed with decisions to make. If you're hiring a mover, you're one step ahead of the game, and you're also at an advantage.

Interstate moving companies are required to adhere to certain laws, one of which is registering with a government agency called the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). But what are these laws, and how will they impact your decision about who to hire? Here are three critical questions to ask when getting a moving quote, and how their answers can simplify your moving experience.

What kind of quotes do they give?

Specifically, you need to know if the quote is in writing, and if it is binding or non binding.

By law, interstate moving companies must provide an estimate in writing, whether it's binding or not. The estimate should include an itemized list of what you'll be paying for (packing, loading, storage, handling, and transportation fees), how much—if anything—you are required to pay up front, and what forms of payment they take.

A non-binding estimate is a great way to get a ballpark figure of what you can expect to pay, and it's usually based on the weight of the goods. It's not set in stone, and it could change before the move, but you are protected to some degree with the 110% rule. With this rule, the moving company is allowed to charge you the estimate amount plus 10% over.

Bear in mind that the company can later bill you for additional services, especially if the moving fees were based on the weight of the shipment, and your items were heavier than expected. But once you pay the estimate plus 10%, the company must release your property.

A binding estimate is typically given for moves based on the number of items as opposed to weight. It's somewhat of a misnomer because in actuality, this figure can change on the day of the move. In these cases, the 110% rule does not apply.

A binding estimate shouldn't be mistaken for a guarantee. However, if the estimate is revised on moving day, that's generally the amount owed by the consumer.

Do they provide in-person quotes?

Having a representative come to your home to give you a quote in person is always beneficial. But if you're planning to move to another state, it's a federal requirement, provided that the moving company is located within 50 miles of your home.

Many consumers have a hard time estimating how many items they'll have on move day. Plus, this figure will go up once all the boxes are packed. If you have a binding agreement set up based on an estimate of 150 items, but you end up with 375 items that need to go on the truck, the amount owed will increase. When the company comes to your home to take an inventory of your possessions, they're more likely to be accurate when giving you a quote.

Remember, both a binding and non-binding estimate can change at any time before the work begins. So if you want accuracy in your estimate, it's best to research moving companies within 50 miles of where you live.

What sort of damage protection do they offer?

Most everyone wants some sort of assurance that their goods will be handled with care. But you also want to know what will happen on the off chance that one of your items gets damaged along the way. Fortunately, interstate movers are legally required to provide you with a minimum of Released Value. This is offered at no cost to the consumer, so you have it automatically, unless you opt for paid insurance.

With Released Value coverage, the mover is only obligated to pay up to $.60 per pound for damaged items. That means if they drop your 70-pound plasma television that cost you $1,200, you won't get more than $42 in compensation.

Another paid option that must be offered, though you don't have to take it, is something called Full Value Protection. Under this plan, the replacement value of a lost or damaged item is covered. In other words, if the mover breaks your computer, they must either pay to repair it, replace it with something comparable, or offer you cash for the item.

Of course, you always have the right to obtain your own third-party insurance for added peace of mind.