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The Final Check of Your Moving Company

You've met the moving company, gotten a moving estimate and feel comfortable with what you've seen.

But before you offer them the job, here are a few more things you can do to put your mind at ease.

First, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the moving companies you're considering. Some offices will have an online database of offenders, or call the number in the government section of the phonebook.

Second, go to Protect Your Move, the consumer website of the Federal Motor Carrier  Safety Administration, where you can find out about the company's licensing, its insurance, and the number of trucks it has in its fleet (this is a good insight to a company -- if it's only got a couple of trucks, it probably isn't equipped to handle a lot of major long distance moves). There is also a complaint history chart, and safety information.

Even More Research!

To do any even more advanced search on your company, go to the website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Here's what to look for on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety website:

Do the company's name, address and phone numbers match up with the names you were given during the in-house estimate?

The "Out of Service" field, at the upper left of the form, should say "No."

"Power Units" and "Drivers" is the number of trucks and drivers the company has. It should match up with the amount of business that the company says it does. Does it seem like enough trucks to qualify as a full-fledged moving company?

Under "Operation Classification," there should be an X next to "Auth. for Hire."

Under "Carrier Operation," there should be an X next to "Interstate" if you're moving out of state.

Under "Cargo Carried," "Household Goods" should be marked with an X.

"Inspections/Crashes" section, there should be cause for concern if the company's percentage is higher than the national average. Out of service means one or more violations in a single inspection.

In the "Safety Rating" section, if there has been a review, the results should be "Satisfactory."

Click on the "FMCSA Licensing & Insurance site" link at the bottom of the page, and on the next page, click on either the "HTML" or the "Report" button under "View Details" to get to the "Motor Carrier Details" page.

Under the column "Authority Type," there are three listings: "Common," "Contract," and "Broker." "Authority Status" tells you if its authority is active. At least "Common" should be listed as active, with "No" under "Application Pending."

In the next table down, "Household Goods" should be marked "Yes."

The bottom table contains insurance information. A moving company is required to have both bodily-injury and property-damage (BIPD) insurance ($750,000 minimum) and cargo insurance filed. Under the heading "Insurance on File," BIPD should be at least $750,000, and "Cargo" should say "Yes."

Finally, call the FMCSA's Safety Violation and Consumer Complaints hotline at (888) 368-7238  and inquire about complaints against your moving company.

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In the Press

A Moving Company's Moving Story
June, 2012

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