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Long Distance Moving Companies

Before hiring a long distance moving company, ask for references.

These movers prepare a customers possessions for a long distance move. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
These movers prepare a customers possessions for a long distance move.

Long Distance Moving Companies

Relocating a home or business, whether cross-country or cross-continent, is a big undertaking, and usually requires the services of a long distance moving company. Experienced long distance moving companies can take the stress out of moving day. A long distance (or interstate) move is classified as a move from one state to another; a move from one place in a state to another place in the same state that requires the moving truck to travel through another state; or a move from one state to a location outside of the United States.

Interstate movers must be licensed by the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) and are strictly governed by the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Therefore, unlike some unlicensed local movers, most long distance moving companies will be reputable. Finding the right company can reduce anxiety and make for a smooth transition. Several things to keep in mind when researching long distance moving companies are cost, reliability and insurance.

Choosing a Long Distance Moving Company

The best way to find a reliable long distance moving company is to ask around. Word-of-mouth advertising is generally the most honest. Websites, such as ServiceMagic and Vanlines, also connect customers with local long distance movers. Supplying basic information about the move results in a free online price quote.

Before choosing a moving company, it is also a good idea to contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if any complaints have been lodged against the company, and if so, how they were handled. Customers can simply enter the business name and state to locate long distance moving companies that are BBB members. Another important step is verifying the validity of the company's Department of Transportation (DOT) license number and insurance. The FMCSA allows customers to search for this information. It is also advisable to ask to see the company's Insurance Certificate to verify they have Worker's Compensation Insurance. This insurance exonerates customers from liability should someone be injured on their property.

The Cost of Long Distance Moving

According to the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), the cost of long distance moving companies depends on how much the total shipment weighs, how far it needs to be transported and what packing services are required. Items are weighed on a moving truck scale. Prior to weighing the truck and its contents, the truck is measured and an empty weight is recorded for a reference point.

Those who pack their own boxes and truck can reduce moving expenses. Self-serve movers provide an empty moving truck or trailer to the customer, who then has three business days to fill it. The moving company transports the truck to the new destination, and the customer then has another three days to empty the contents. Food and transportation costs for the employees are included in the company's prices. Generally, long distance moving companies do not allow customers to submit claims for goods damaged in the move if they packed the boxes themselves.

Insurance Coverage for Movers

Long distance moving companies must carry insurance, the cost of which is included in a company's price quote. This coverage allows customers to claim a percentage of the value of any lost or damaged property. Customers are required to know the amount of insurance coverage they need. A list of valuables must be prepared since they may require extra coverage. All insurance policies have specific timeframes for filing claims. Claims submitted after the deadline will be denied.

It is important to learn the particulars of any moving company's policy by reading the fine print. Full coverage is recommended for long distance and international moves since items may cross borders or pass through customs. This increases the odds of theft, accidents, loss or damage. Some long distance moving company's insurance policies come with a pairs or set clause. This means that if a portion of a set of goods, such as one dining room chair from a set of four, is damaged, customers only will be reimbursed for the single item rather than the entire set of chairs.

Although customers can purchase additional insurance, protection called Released Value is included in the moving company's price. Many customers choose to purchase extra insurance, though, because according to the FMCSA, Released Value only makes the company liable for 60 cents per pound per article. Therefore, it does not matter how much an item is worth; payment for damage or loss is based purely on the weight of the item. Customers can pay extra to insure their items by value and weight or buy a full value policy that guarantees full market value to repair, replace or reimburse.

What Customers Should Ask Potential Moving Companies

When evaluating long distance moving companies, it is advisable to get as much information as possible. Before deciding on a mover, ask about:

  • Prices for time, mileage and moving large objects, like appliances and pianos
  • Company experience, such as are drivers bonded
  • Procedures used for transporting fragile goods and lifting heavy objects
  • Payment method, including the deposit amount and whether it is refundable if the job is cancelled
  • Whether the movers break down and set up items
  • What insurance is included in the price quote
  • Transfering belongings to a second moving van

Another wise idea is to ask for references from several past customers. Potential customers can ask these references about the company's performance, reliability, punctuality and care in transporting their possessions. One reference should be a customer from at least three years ago. This guarantees the long distance moving company has been in business for at least that long and has not reopened under another name after encountering legal, financial or ethical difficulties.

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