Moving can be a very stressful time. Whether you’re moving across the state, or across the street, there are certain things to consider when selecting movers. Price may be the first thing. Becoming insolvent because of a move may not be the most appealing option. However, there is a more significant axiom to consider: all that glitters is not gold. While the cheapest deal would be most appealing, an even more important aspect is Licensing. The horror stories are abounding when it comes to hiring bargain movers. Reader’s Digest has even reported on such stories. Tails like, “When we moved from a small townhouse to our home in Virginia, the movers refused to unload any of our furniture and held it hostage in their truck until we went to the ATM and paid them more than we had agreed to…” or, “Three movers showed up, decided that they needed another guy, stood around for four hours doing nothing, before finally disappearing…” (Conklin, Lisa Marie). These tragedies, unfortunately, would have been avoided if the consumer had properly vetted their Movers. Hiring a Moving or Staffing Company with the proper registration protects the customer through insurance requirements and arbitration.
Types of Licensing:
There are two main types of Licensing in the United States within the Moving and Staffing Industries: State and Federal. In this case, not all companies are equal. One may have a license in one area, but not in the other. However, what does it mean to be Federal or State licensed? Federal Licensing is governed by the FMCSA: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This department covers all interstate moves; but what is considered an interstate move? The FMCSA defines interstate moves by a list of scenarios. Firstly, if a move is from one state to another, and crossing the border. This seems to be the most logical. The second may be just as intuitive: if the move goes from inside the United States to a foreign Nation, then it is an interstate move. The third scenario adds a very important caveat to this equation. The move is under this jurisdiction if the move is within the same state, but if the shipment crosses state lines. The last scenario covers, in the same vain, if the move is in the same state, but the shipment crosses an international border (FAQs). If this sounds like your move, then the company you chose should be registered with the Federal government with all required insurances. This is found by finding the Company’s U.S. DOT number; this can be located using the FMCSA’s mover search tool.1
If your company is not found in this database, it is advised to take your business elsewhere. The next type of licensing that is always required is an intrastate license. In this article, the Texas Licensing System is going to be used. If a move occurs within the state (e.g. is not one of the scenarios discussed earlier), then the company must have a state license to move, or a Motor Carrier License. In Texas, this license is granted by the DMV (txdmv.gov).
The plainest reason for choosing a licensed mover, although it may be more expensive, is the guarantee of cost, and more importantly, liability and arbitration.
This liability is usually based on the insurance requirements and what will be covered in case of accidents. This question is always going to be pondered: what if something is damaged? If the Movers have proper Licensing, they will have insurance per regulation. There are two types of insurance that are required: Full Value and Released Value (Understanding Valuation and Insurance).
Full value insurance covers the repair of the item, replacement, or a cash settlement for the cost of repair or market value replacement. This is usually when things get more expensive. However, the other, cheaper insurance is Released Value (also known as Partial Value). The equation is $0.60 per pound of the load (Understanding Valuation and Insurance).
This is not full value or market value, it is just based on load weight. The company must inform you of the two types of insurance and what it costs before the move; in most part this is part of the originating contract. This will protect against, or at least compensate for, any loss. If there is still a dispute, arbitration will save the day.
When there is a dispute with your Moving Company, there is a low cost way of settling differences: arbitration. In the rare occasion that there is a dispute and there is no way that the two parties can resolve their dispute on their own, then what is called an arbitration hearing may be called. This is a court ordered hearing about property loss and damage, or disputes (What Should You Do if you Have a Dispute with your Mover?). This avoids the high costs of lawyers and court fees. A Licensed Mover must accept arbitration if the value of what is being disputed is under or equal to $10,000, but can decide to decline arbitration if over the aforementioned amount (What Should You Do if you Have a Dispute with your Mover?). In this case, one would have to go to court to settle the dispute. Then, even in this case, a Licensed Mover will have a person to which court documents can be directly served. This streamlines the entire process, protects the customer, the company, and makes sure amicable agreements are met.
Through licensing, there are certain consumer protections that keep incidents from becoming catastrophes, keeps the price binding when a contract is signed, and makes all transactions safer. In the end it is not just about making a fair deal; it concerns the items worth protecting: family mementos, household goods, etc. The next time you move, the best thing to do is move with a Licensed Moving Company like S&F Forte Moving Co. LLC., or any other licensed movers in your area.
Conklin, L. M. (n.d.). Moving Day Horror Stories and How to Avoid Them. Retrieved from https://www.rd.com/home/improvement/moving-day-horror-stories/
Don’t Make a Move Without Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.txdmv.gov/motorists/consumer-protection/dont-make-a-move
FAQs. (2015, January 29). Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/protect-your-move/how-to/faqs#What makes a move an interstate move?
Understanding Valuation and Insurance. (2015, February 10). Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/protect-your-move/valuation-insurance
What Should You Do if you Have a Dispute with your Mover? (2015, February 03). Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/protect-your-move/handling-disputes