Ask The Expert: Moving Companies Debunked (Part 2)
When we asked Nancy Zafrani, the general manager of Oz Moving and Storage, to give us the inside scoop about moving companies, we got so much great information from her we had to split it into two posts! So, without further ado, here’s Nancy’s take on how to make sure your valuables are insured, what you should NEVER pack in a moving shipment and a whole lot of other good tips:
1. How do inventory lists play a role in local and international moves? How much does a moving company rely on those lists to ensure a good move?
The inventory or manifest is a legally binding document and is extremely important. It is your responsibility to ensure the information is correct before you sign it at the move’s origin, and make sure to review the physical shipment carefully before signing off that all is in good condition. In most cases, you cannot claim an item lost or damaged unless the condition is duly noted on the inventory at delivery.
2. How do you ensure that the minimum amount of items end up lost/broken in a move?
According to the American Moving & Storage Association, nearly 80 percent of moves go along without a hitch. That means 20 percent of moves have some issue, be it loss, damage, price or contractual disputes. We do everything we can to ensure our clients know what to expect on the move day with our written proposals, confirmation email system and website.
Our employees are well-trained and we carefully wrap all furniture with moving blankets and protective padding. If we see something improperly packed by the client, we bring it to their attention. We advise our clients to take any personal or difficult to replace items, like passports, check books and jewelry. We do operate in a high-risk industry, so we always recommend properly insuring your shipment.
3. What insurance should a proper move company carry? What questions should you ask in order to make sure they are properly insured?
All moving companies are by law required to carry insurance and must provide a minimum coverage to their clients. That being said, the “minimum” is minimal, either 30 or 60 cents per pound. For coverage above the minimum, the client must declare the true value of the shipment and pay a fee accordingly. This can range dramatically depending on the state and moving company. We knew a friend who moved to South Carolina and had a quote of $17,000 for $17,000 insurance coverage with a $1,000 deductible. How crazy is that?
There are also independent insurance companies that you can purchase policies from, like Baker International. The most important thing is to address it in advance of the move – find out how much the mover charges and be honest about what the value of the shipment is and whether you have high value or items requiring special care. Don’t insure based on the “most damage expected” – we hear clients all the time tell us, “OK, insure it for ten grand, you can’t do that much damage” It is not a matter of how much damage can be done, and hopefully you won’t need the coverage, but you don’t want to be underinsured. Some insurance carriers require a minimum coverage of $7 per pound or $49 per cubic foot of property being moved. This is a basic gauge if you have no idea what the value of your shipment is.
4. What kind of items should never be packed/moved by a moving company?
Great question! The short answer is anything you would be devastated to lose (within reason, of course – special photographs, documents, deeds), or is difficult to replace (passports, checkbooks), cash or cash equivalent, including jewelry, precious stones and coins. You should also not pack anything that may soil other items. Open bottles of cleaning supply, paint, food, etc. should not be packed with movers.
Anything of great sentimental value probably can’t be properly insured, so pack it yourself. Keep in mind, when moving items of extraordinary value, the mover’s liability is limited unless those items are declared and agreed to in writing.
5. How should you prep your valuable items for a moving company?
I suggest not only keeping a separate bag or box of the property you plan to take on your own, but also taking it entirely out of the house and put it in a safe place or your new home before the movers get there. That way, there is no chance of it accidentally being packed along with the rest of the shipment.
When in doubt about packing something fragile, wait for the movers to get there to either pack it for you or help you pack it. If you are not confident with the way something was packed, have it repacked. Use plenty of paper and bubble wrap and make sure fragile items are not in a position to bang into each other in the box. The boxes should be entirely filled to avoid shifting in transit.
6. What does a moving company want a potential customer to know?
In my experience, problems arise from lack of communication. Communicate everything to the mover and be true to it. Hold them to the same standard by having them put all agreed to in writing. This really helps avoid issues on the move day, and both parties really do want things to go smoothly. We want a calm, stress-free, satisfied customer. It really makes the job harder for everyone involved when things don’t go as expected and tensions are high.
7. Anything else you want to pass along about the moving industry?
The moving industry on the whole has a pretty poor public image. We are the pitbulls of the service industry; everyone has heard a mover horror story. In truth, Oz, like many other moving companies, strives to do business in an ethical way; it’s part of the reason why we started. More than 47 percent of moving companies nationwide have fewer than five employees, because many are mom and pop startups. There are many dedicated, passionate professionals in the industry that truly strive to provide good service. If you take the time to find a good mover, and keep the lines of communication clear and open, you will have a successful moving experience!
Thanks Nancy and Oz Moving and Storage for all the great information! If you know of a great moving company or other method of relocating that we should feature, let us know!
-by Emily Robertson