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Moving companies come in all shapes and sizes, from the guy with a truck to a full-service cross-country organization. Hiring movers to help you downsize or manage an estate cleanout can be stressful. You want someone who cares about packing your things, but if you’re on a tight budget, it can be tempting to search for the cheapest moving company option.

What are you really giving up by choosing a lower-priced moving company? Our questions will help you determine what level of service you’re getting. Armed with solid information, you can make the best decision, and choose a moving company with the right level of services at the right price.

Hiring Movers Question 1: Are you licensed?

States license moving companies to handle either in-state or intra-state moves. Hiring licensed movers means that they are carefully regulated to provide a minimum level of service. For example, licensed movers must offer a baseline amount of replacement insurance at $.60 per pound of the damaged item’s weight.

Unlicensed movers may cost less, and may be more flexible on offering available services and time frames. But be sure all of your terms are spelled out in writing, as unlicensed moving companies aren’t required by law to honor any governmental regulations.

Hiring Movers Question 2: Are the workers employees or contractors?

Many moving companies hire part-time workers looking for temporary or day jobs. Some moving companies outsource the actual packing and moving to subcontractors, who they don’t manage directly. While those workers can be strong, reliable movers, they may not have the long-term experience that comes in handy for more complicated or specialized projects.

Permanent full-time employees build a knowledge base of how to pack and move unusual or valuable objects. They have proven reliability over time, and they have more incentive to do a terrific job. Don’t be afraid to ask who will be assigned to your move, and how long they have been employed by the moving company.

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Hiring Movers Question 3: Who will I contact after hours with questions or concerns?

If you do a lot of your planning on nights and weekends, who will you contact at the moving company with questions at that time? If you prefer a phone call over email (or vice versa) make sure the company offers your favored option.

A 24-hour 800-number doesn’t help if the person answering the phone simply takes a message. If the moving company has an answering service, ask how long it generally takes to hear back.

Hiring Movers Question 4: Who will oversee my project from start to finish?

The friendly salesperson, Joe, who listens to the details of your project and writes up the contract is not the person who will manage your move. Joe will be busy making more sales, so ask who will be on site, overseeing your move. Is it a job title, like “your move manager?” Or is it a name – say, Alicia – along with her contact information?

You may have spent hours walking through your house with Joe, and explaining that your mother will be able to help oversee the project in the mornings, but needs to nap in the afternoons. Ask Joe how he will make sure Alicia knows those details.  If that information is “on the contract,” make sure that contract includes every detail that is important to you.

Hiring Movers Question 5: How will items get where they need to go?

Hiring movers to empty your house isn’t just about your packed items. In our experience, the average house also contains at least one ton of actual trash. Ask moving companies if they are able to take that away. If you have items to donate, are you hiring movers who can get those things to the donation center? Some moving companies will add that service.

For the items you don’t plan to keep, does the moving company have someone who can help evaluate whether or not those items have value? Hiring movers who can help sort your things can end up saving you time in the long run. Identifying items of value and helping sell them can put money in your pocket. Ask if the movers work with an estate auction house or estate sale company partner who can manage your sale.

Hiring Movers Question 6: What happens if something is broken or missing?

Accidents happen. Make sure you understand who you would contact at the moving company, what the process is for filing a claim, and how long settlements take. Licensed moving companies are required by law to offer replacement value of $.60 per pound of the damaged item’s weight. If you want additional coverage, ask what the options are for purchasing that.

Also ask how the reimbursement is processed, and how long you’ll have to wait to receive it. Some companies settle quickly, with a credit on your bill. Others take months, and send a check in the mail.

Moving is one of the most stressful and unsettling events we experience in life, but hiring movers doesn’t have to be. Lower your stress by finding the right moving company that offers the exact services your family needs.


At Legacy Navigator we work with families in transition. We can empty an entire house within days, sorting what items to keep, sell, donate, and discard. Our employees pack and move everything, then prepare the house for sale. Call us for a free consultation.

Our advice is based on our experience cleaning out and settling estates for our clients. Each project is different, and each state's laws are different. We always recommend that you consult personally with experts about your particular situation before making any important decisions.