A Practical Guide To Interstate Moving

Moving your household possessions and relocating to a new home is one of the most important activities that you will undertake. Thats why its important for you as a consumer to become familiar with the moving industry and to better understand your rights and responsibilities when you move.

While most trucking companies are now required only to receive the proper authority to operate and to be registered with the Department of Transportation, interstate movers must meet two additional requirements. First, movers must publish their tariffs (a tariff is the movers price list for performing moving services) and make them available for inspection by any consumer who asks to see a copy. Second, movers are required to participate in a Dispute Settlement Program and to offer neutral arbitration as a means of resolving disputed loss and damage claims and certain types of disputed charges.

Most people who use a professional mover never have a problem or need to file a claim. And the vast majority of claims that are filed are resolved to the consumer’s satisfaction in a timely manner. However, problems do sometimes occur that cannot be easily resolved. Part 5 of this Guide directs you to more information for help in dealing with problems should they occur.

Part 1: Why You Should Use A Professional Mover
Part 2: Planning Your Move
Part 3: Estimates and Liability
Part 4: Understanding The Paperwork and Terminology
Part 5: Resolving Claims and Using Arbitration

Why You Should Use A Professional Mover

Professional movers provide a valuable service by moving thousands of people to new homes each year. While almost no move is ever completely stress-free, when you use a professional mover, all of the heavy lifting will be done for you. Movers will pack your possessions, load them into the truck, drive the truck to your destination and unload and unpack your shipment at your new home. Movers can also provide you with warehouse storage, move your piano up and down flights of stairs, transport your automobile, and service your appliances to insure their safe transportation.

If you are considering moving yourself, especially if you will be moving interstate, you should ask a lot of questions and compute the actual costs of self-moving before you sign an agreement with a truck rental company. The information in this part of the Consumer Guide will help you to calculate self-move costs and give you a basis of comparison when evaluating the price and value of professional moving.

Rental Charge. For an interstate move, you will need to provide the truck rental company with your origin and destination cities and the date you plan to move. Depending on equipment availability in certain locations, prices may vary. Peak season runs from the end of May until the end of September, so truck rental rates may be higher during that time of year. Most people move at the beginning of a month or the end of the month, so prices may be even higher during these times. The rental charge you are quoted includes a rental deposit that may be refunded depending on the condition of the vehicle upon its return, and a certain number of free miles (approximately 10% greater than the estimated actual mileage). The rental charge does not include state taxes or other equipment you may need to complete your move, such as cartons, boxes, pads and dollies. You’ll need a day or two to pack and another to unpack, so be sure your quote includes these extra days plus the days you will need for driving.

Make sure you rent the right size truck! Remember, efficiently loading a truck is an art, not a science. After a long, hard day of loading all of your worldly possessions into the back of a rental truck, the last thing you need to discover is that you have run out of space but not out of furniture.

Automobiles. How many cars do you have? Are you going to drive or tow the vehicle(s)? A trailer package from a rental company can cost an additional $150, plus another $45 for the trailer hitch along with a $200 deposit depending on how many days you are renting the trailer. If you are driving your own vehicle, you’ll need to factor in wear and tear on your vehicle.

Insurance Charges. It may cost an additional $20 a day or more for insurance during your move. Check the policies that are offered carefully. Most car insurance policies do not cover truck rentals, so you will need to purchase separate liability insurance and property damage insurance. Also, if you tow your car, youll need separate insurance to cover any damage that occurs during the towing. Most of these additional policies do not cover you against theft; so if your goods are stolen (truck theft can be a problem if you are leaving the fully loaded vehicle unattended while you spend the night at a hotel) you may not have any protection.

Pads and Dollies. Youll need to rent pads so you do not scratch your furniture. Pads generally cost $10 a dozen; with a 26 foot truck (four bedroom house), you will need at least 3-dozen pads. You may need appliance dollies, utility dollies, or furniture dollies to help move heavy furniture and appliances. Each dolly will cost an additional $5 to $10 per rental.

The Value of Your Time. Who is going to do the packing and unpacking? Who will pick-up, load, drive and unload the rental truck? Who will drive the automobile? If you are doing all of this yourself, it takes a lot of time. Figure out your average hourly wage and multiply it times the total number of hours you estimate it will take to pack, pick-up the truck, load, drive, unload, etc. for you and your spouse/family. This is the per move value of your time.

Packing and Loading the Truck. You might be able to collect free boxes in anticipation of the move, but to minimize damages, especially for an interstate move, it is highly recommended that you purchase specialized boxes, like wardrobes, dish packs, and mattress containers. You’ll need tape to secure the boxes and paper padding to secure the contents of the containers before they are loaded on the truck. The cost of packing materials may vary by state and state taxes will also apply.

Expect to pay about $200 for a 4-bedroom home, plus another $100 or so each for the kitchen and a home office, if you purchase your boxes from a truck rental company. If you need wardrobe boxes for hanging garments, expect to pay about $25 each. Youll also need tape and rope to secure your cartons properly. Some truck rental companies also offer loading and unloading service to load your furniture and the boxes that you have packed yourself. This service can add several hundred dollars to the cost of your move; be sure to get an estimate before your sign-up for this service. Plus, the rental companys liability for any damage that occurs to your goods during the loading and unloading process will likely be minimal or even non-existent.

Mileage Charges. Mileage charges are usually included in the rental agreement but may be limited; an additional mileage charge may be assessed at an average cost per mile, usually around 40 cents a mile for each additional mile over the limit. Be sure to read your contract to see if there are extra mileage charges or fees for one-way rentals.

Fuel Charges. When you pick up your truck, the vehicle will be full of fuel. You must return the vehicle with a full tank or the rental company may charge a higher than average price per gallon to fill the vehicle. You’ll need to calculate the cost of fuel used while driving the rental vehicle. A 26-foot truck that is fully loaded will average about 10 miles per gallon. If you travel approximately 1200 miles/10 miles a gallon, you will consume 120 gallons of fuel. At an average price of $3.00 a gallon x 120 gallons, your fuel cost will be $360.

Appliance Servicing. Refrigerators, grandfather clocks, washing machines, gas stoves, etc. all may require special preparation and handling to prevent them from being damaged when they are moved. You may need to hire several specialists to ensure proper handling of your possessions. These appliance service charges will increase the cost of your self-move.

Storage. Is your destination residence available for occupancy? If not, where will you store your possessions? You may need to secure a warehouse and unload all your household goods into storage. The most common storage facilities available for the self-mover are mini warehouse storage units. While functional, these units may provide less than adequate protection for your belongings. Security may be minimal, usually a manager sleeping on the premise, no insurance coverage, and no protection from fire or smoke damage.

When your new residence becomes available you will need to rent another truck, reload all your possessions from the warehouse, deliver your goods to the final destination, and unload everything one last time.

Other Additional Costs to consider are:

  1. Good friends and relatives that help you move will add additional expenses like food and beverages.
  2. Do you have children and are they too young to care for themselves? If you are doing everything yourself, you may have childcare expenses.
  3. Back injuries can occur when moving heavy articles like furniture. You may want to purchase a back brace to reduce lower back strain.
  4. Can you drive to the new destination in one day, or will you be required to spend one or more nights in a hotel? Who will watch the truck while you sleep? Security may also be a concern.
  5. Tolls for bridges and/or highways may also be applicable

Calculating Do It Yourself Moving Costs

Items Cost
Truck rental charge - include total days for packing, loading, driving and unloading $
Rental deposit $
Trailer package or hitch $
Wear and tear if you drive your personal vehicle average 45¢ per mile $
Daily insurance rate $
Furniture pads $
Appliance dollies $
Value of your time and other members involved in the packing, loading, driving, unloading and unpacking $
Cost of boxes, cartons, tape and other packing materials, plus trash and land fill fees for getting rid of the debris after your move is finished $
Loading and unloading services $
Additional mileage charge $
Fuel cost - $3.00 per gallon/10 miles per gallon $
Appliance service cost/td> $
Warehouse / storage rental cost $
Additional truck rental to deliver from the storage warehouse $
Additional costs - food, child care, back brace, hotels, tolls $
Total Estimated Do It Yourself Move Cost $

Now price a professional move

Go to www.moving.org and select the Mover Referral Service to get estimates from AMSA professional movers. Our Mover Referral Service will help you find local professional movers who will provide you with free in-home estimates. Thats the best way to get estimates of what the price will be for your individual move.

A number of factors will determine the cost of your move. When you move (the summer season and the first and last few days of each month are the busiest times for movers), where you move (moves in traffic lanes between metropolitan areas may be less than moves to remote locations), and how much you move (charges are based on weight and distance) all impact your final cost.

Get more than one estimate and watch out for low-ball movers! If a mover you are considering tells you that he can move you for an unrealistically low price be careful. It could mean he will suddenly remember some extra charges once your shipment has been loaded on the truck, the doors have been padlocked and he is ready to drive off into the sunset with all of your worldly possessions. Or, if a mover you are considering refuses to provide you with an in-home estimate and tells you he can provide an accurate estimate over the phone without ever seeing your home and your furniture choose another mover.

Remember, it’s not just the price; it’s the total value of a professional move.

Planning Your Move

Choosing A Mover. Moving companies provide a variety of services for a range of fees. It is a good idea to talk with different movers to compare their services. Ask your friends and neighbors about their experiences with the movers that they have used. You can also check with any consumer organizations in your local area.

The AMSA does not recommend moving companies nor does it recommend one moving company over another. You can however obtain a list of AMSA members in your area on our web site www.moving.org or by contacting our Membership Department (703) 683-7410. The members of the AMSA have agreed to abide by the terms of our published tariffs. They also participate in the federally mandated arbitration program under the guidelines of the US Department of Transportation.

You Load We Haul Trucking Companies. Some non-mover trucking companies offer a moving option based on a You Load We Haul concept. Under this option, the trucking company will deliver the trailer portion of a tractor-trailer unit to your current home for you to load yourself. Then, the trucking company will drive the loaded trailer to your new home where you will unload it yourself. While this may seem to be an attractive economic alternative, it is not without risk. Regular trucking companies are not subject to the mandatory arbitration requirements that movers are and the trucking companys liability (often only 10¢ a pound) will be much lower than your movers liability for the same shipment. Also, many of the companies do not have air-ride equipment that is specially built to transport furniture and delicate household goods articles.

Internet Household Goods Brokers. Some companies operate as brokers of moving services on the Internet. Moving brokers usually do not own or operate any trucks or other moving equipment themselves. Instead, they collect a deposit from you and then arrange for your move to be handled by another company that performs the move. So, you may not have control over who actually moves your goods. Check them out carefully before you decide to use a broker; usually you will not have the same consumer protection as with a licensed interstate mover. And, after the broker collects your deposit, you may find it difficult to get him interested in helping you in the event of a claim or a dispute with the mover that he has arranged for you. (AMSA does not allow brokers to join our organization.)

Once you have compiled a list of movers, inform them of the destination and timing of your move. Ask them about the types of services they offer. Also ask them to explain their estimates in detail and to give you a copy. If any company refuses to give you a written estimate, you should eliminate them from consideration. Then carefully compare to see which mover best suits your needs and budget.

Ask your friends for the names of movers that they have used and get estimates from at least 3 movers. Keep in mind that prices can be misleading; good service is a better measure of a good mover, since youll have fewer headaches in the long run.

If you are moving long distance, you should read and understand all of the information you will receive. In addition to brochures explaining their various services, moving companies should give you a copy of two (2) consumer booklets one entitled Ready To Move and the second entitled Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move and information regarding the movers participation in a Dispute Settlement (Arbitration) Program. Distribution of the consumer booklets and the requirement that movers must offer shippers neutral arbitration as a means of settling certain types of disputes that may arise on household goods shipments are requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency of the US Department of Transportation.

It is important to try to make arrangements for your move well in advance, at least four to six weeks before the moving date. When you choose your mover, be sure you understand:

  • The rates and charges that will apply; be sure to get a written estimate
  • How pickup and delivery will work and the dates the mover has committed to
  • What claims protection you have and the movers liability for your belongings
  • How you can reach your mover during your move

After carefully choosing your mover, there are a number of things that you can do that will help to reduce stress, anxiety and problems during your move.