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Is Your Moving Company Licensed and Insured? Here’s How To Check

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About 43.6 million Americans — or 16% of the country — move each year, and moving scams are unfortunately a problem for many of them. The Better Business Bureau reported more than $730,000 lost to moving scams in 2021, a 216% increase from the year before. Scammers will take your deposit and never show up, add an extra fee once they get there, or disappear with your belongings entirely.

If you’re planning on joining the trend and changing residences, an important part of your journey should be locating licensed moving companies to help with the transition. This helps ensure that the company you’re doing business with is legitimate, and

How to check if a moving company is licensed and insured

If you’re relocating across state lines, the licensed movers you choose must meet all the rules and regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). One of the FMCSA rules says that the interstate mover must have federal licensure. It is against the law to use a mover that is not properly licensed and insured when moving across states.

Before an interstate mover is licensed, they must meet specific requirements like insurance, financial responsibility, and safety measures. The regulations and requirements for licensing and insurance vary from state to state. In most states, it’s mandatory for licensed moving companies to register with the state, and offer no fewer than two insurance options.

1. Check using a USDOT number

One of the FMCSA rules for licensed moving companies is the mandatory registration of a USDOT number. The USDOT number makes it easy for you to check relevant information on the professional moving company you intend to hire. An interstate USDOT number is a unique identifier that allows the government to monitor and access its compliance, inspections, audits, and crash investigations.

The number will also enable you to check whether the company is appropriately licensed and insured. You can also use the number to quickly review the safety information for that particular company’s past operations.

The USDOT number is usually located on the company’s website. Reputable operations will also volunteer the number on request. Once you get the number, enter it on the FMCSA’s website search tool. You will get all the updated details of the particular company, including its safety and insurance information, fleet size, compliance history, and licensing.

2. Look into their online presence

It’s easy to obtain the USDOT number when the company has a website, and all reputable moving companies should have an online presence. Insured movers will typically have a robust website and active social media platforms. If the specific moving company you intend to use has zero online presence, that should raise suspicion. The company could either be a scam or is not properly licensed and insured.

3. Read customer reviews

Past customer reviews offer a glimpse into the reputation of the company you want to hire. You can access customer reviews through online sites like Yelp and Nextdoor. Professional licensed moving companies should have a solid track record and excellent customer reviews. You can also check resources like the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been complaints around conduct or operations.

A moving quotes tool like MYMOVE’s has customer reviews for over 250 moving companies across the U.S. It also provides other company details like moving services offered, estimated cost, and whether the company is licensed and insured.

4. Check business certifications

Reputable licensed movers are usually certified by at least one industry association, like the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) or Better Business Bureau. AMSA provides reputable companies with a ProMover title. ProMover is a consumer certification and protection program that helps consumers to distinguish professional movers from scammers. Getting the ProMover certification is not a walk in the park; a company has to meet stringent industry requirements that include proper licensing and insurance coverage.

5. Assess the company’s professionalism

When engaging a company, use common sense to determine if they uphold the industry code of ethics. A professional company always shows up on time. The FMCSA requires that all licensed and insured movers offer free in-home estimates for their clients.

Other characteristics of a professional company include having a physical office, business cards or prominent contact information, and trucks labeled with its logos. They should also provide you with critical documents such as insurance stickers, licenses, and lading bills.

Common red flags

If you’re still having some doubts about a moving company, these are some common red flags you should look out for before putting down a deposit:

  • Suspiciously low estimate: MYMOVE recommends getting at least three moving quotes when you’re searching for a company. If one is significantly lower than the others, consider doing some extra research before putting down a deposit, or calling the company directly and asking detailed questions about the moving estimate.
  • No detailed inventory: A reputable moving company will offer an in-person inspection of your home in order to give you a detailed estimate. At the very least, they should do a video inspection or ask you to send a full inventory.
  • No written estimate: You should always have a detailed estimate upfront. Never book a mover that says the cost will be determined after loading.
  • Large deposits: In most cases, the deposit shouldn’t be more than 20% of the total cost. It’s also a red flag if they’ll only take the deposit in cash.
  • Signing blank documents: A trusted mover — or any trusted company — will never ask you to sign blank documents.
  • They can’t answer your questions: Asking detailed questions is one of the essential steps to picking a mover. If a company struggles to answer basic questions you have about move, packaging, insurance, they may not be reputable.
  • No address: Every moving company should have a physical address associated with their business. If you can’t find one, move on.
  • No insurance information: The company’s website should have details about the insurance they provide. If a representative gives you a vague answer like “everything’s covered,” it’s time to walk away.

The bottom line

It can be challenging to differentiate between genuine companies and rogue movers out to take advantage of your naivete. Getting the right moving insurance coverage for moving eases the stress of a move by ensuring your belongings are protected.

Frequently asked questions

Q:

What insurance do I need for a move?

A:

Typically, movers offer many types of insurance. However, two are mandated by federal law: Released value coverage and the basic carrier liability. The liability coverage is free and is usually based on weight, paying out up to 60 cents per pound for an item. It can be beneficial to get additional insurance coverage such as Trip transit insurance, special perils contents coverage, a floater insurance, and storage insurance.

Q:

Can I sue my moving company?

A:

Yes. You can sue a moving company if it breaches any part of the contract that you sign. For example, you can sue the company if it damages your property. You can also sue if your belongings are lost while in transit. If this happens, hire an attorney to give professional legal advice and explain your legal options.

Q:

Is there a registry of certified movers?

A:

Typically, interstate licensed moving companies are registered with the federal government. You can search for the details of a particular company using their USDOT number. Several reputable companies operating within the U.S. are also certified by industry associations like the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) or Better Business Bureau.