Unless you drive the truck yourself with all your belongings right across the country, it is understandable that you are anxious about the safety of your things. However, you should know that there are plenty of ways to protect your belongings during a long-distance move. Here are some tips.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) regulates the moving industry. Before hiring a mover, visit the FMCSA website to learn your rights as a consumer and what you can do to protect yourself.
Check that the mover has the required FMSCA registration and USDOT number through the FMSCA Protect Your Move website. Also, ensure that the mover you choose has an American Trucking Associations (ATA) ProMover certification and is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Legitimate long-distance movers will even refer you to these authorities to verify their standing.
Get It in Writing
The first step is to get everything in writing. The mover should give you a document called Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move, which outlines your rights as a consumer and the mover’s responsibilities. Be sure to read this document carefully and keep it for your records.
In addition, the mover should provide you with a written or binding estimate that sets forth the cost of the move based on the services offered and the goods to be transported. Once you have received the assessment, the mover cannot charge you more than 10% above the estimate for unexpected services unless you agree to the additional costs in writing.
Understand Your Insurance Coverage
Most movers offer insurance coverage for your belongings, but you must understand what is and is not covered. Basic liability coverage (released value protection) is typically included in the cost of your move. Still, it only covers 60 cents per pound of damaged or lost goods.
Therefore, if you have any valuable items, you may want to purchase additional insurance to cover their replacement cost. Note that movers are required to offer you Full Value Protection, meaning they will have to replace the value of the damaged or lost item. If you want, you can also get outside insurance. Check your existing homeowner’s insurance policy first, so you do not have to pay for double coverage.
You can take measures to protect your belongings by packing them properly. Disassemble more oversized furniture items and wrap them securely with blankets or padding. Label all your boxes clearly with their contents and destination room. You may also want to take pictures or videos of your belongings for insurance purposes.
If the mover you choose offers packing services, you must consider it. They are the experts and will know how to pack each item to ensure its safety. They even know what boxes to use best for which items. They also know what items are forbidden for interstate transportation and can guide you accordingly.
Furthermore, movers can disassemble furniture and pack them securely. In addition, if you also get their unpacking services, they will unpack and assemble your furniture properly when they reach your destination.
Remember that if you will be transporting your refrigerator or freezer you must empty them completely a few days before the scheduled packing and leave them open to the air to dry out thoroughly. If you don’t, they may grow mold which is dangerous to your health.
Keep Valuables with You
Ensure that you pack your valuables separately and take these with you as you travel. Your valuables are not just your jewelry. These include all your official documents such as checkbooks, insurance policies, home titles or mortgage papers, vehicle papers, deeds, stocks, bonds, tax records, medical and dental records, school records, work contracts, work files, and address books. These include both paper documents and digital files. For that matter, all your computers and gadgets must travel with you.
To ensure that you do not lose them, also keep with you your most treasured home videos and family albums. Finally, make sure you have all the prescription medicine for everyone in the family plus emergency over-the-counter medication. Pack at least two days’ worth of extra clothes for every family member and your basic toiletries. Pack more if you will be traveling to your destination way ahead of your other belongings.
Be Present and Do a Walkthrough
If possible, try to be present when the movers are packing and loading your belongings onto the truck. This way, you can see that they are being handled with care. If you cannot be there in person, ask a friend or family member to be present on your behalf.
Once everything is loaded onto the truck, do a walkthrough with the driver to make sure that nothing was left behind and that all of your belongings are accounted for. Be sure to get a copy of the inventory list for your records.
When moving, it is important to take precautions to protect your belongings. By following the precautions from the FMSCA, ensuring the mover you choose is reputable, and having them pack your belongings professionally, you can minimize the chances of anything being damaged or lost in transit. Get additional insurance and keep your valuables with you for further protection. Travel safely and get ready for your new life across the country.
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