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Living Smart: Moving

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By Angie Hicks

moving_packing_box(MCT)—If there’s a move in your future and you want to hire help with all or part of it, here are suggestions to unpack and stow away, offered by highly rated movers and satisfied customers:

Plan ahead. Start at least six weeks before the move date, and allow time to declutter and pack each room.

Choose services. Moving services range from you-rent trucks to “managed moves” in which experts handle every detail, including setting up the new household. In between, you can get help for just the heavy lifting, or hybrid options in which you pack possessions into pods or cubes that a company transports to your new home.

In a standard move, if possessions cross state lines at any point, that’s considered an interstate move that is subject to federal regulation. Costs are typically calculated using a combination of weight and distance. Long distance in-state moves are often assessed the same way.

Local moves are usually assessed by hour and per worker. Regulations for local movers and what constitutes a “local” move vary widely by state.

Costs reflect the type of move and service level. A you-rent truck might cost $20 to $40 a day with an additional charge of about 80 cents a mile. Expect to pay at least $1,000 for a full-service move across town. Long-distance professional moves can cost a dozen times as much.

Cut costs by avoiding the busy summer months or choosing a departure date after the first of the month and before its last 10 days.

Know scam warning signs. Rogue movers plague the industry. Be leery of companies that:
—Won’t provide an on-site estimate. The most accurate estimate comes from a visit to your home.
—Answer calls with a generic greeting, such as “movers” or “moving company.”
—Don’t have a local address, information about registration or insurance.
—Charge differently than the norm, such as by the cubic feet.
—Demand cash or a large deposit before the move.
—Use a generic or rented truck.
—Demand extra money after loading, saying the estimate covered only some charges or possessions weighed more than estimated.

Do your homework. If you’re planning an out-of-state move, visit protectyourmove.gov, which lists licensed movers. Many states also have similar sites. Read company reviews on a trusted consumer site, check for proper licensing and ask about the crew’s experience level.

Know if the estimate is binding or if it could change. A binding estimate can’t be changed, even if the actual cost exceeds the estimate. Get a written copy of the estimate. To avoid hidden or add-on fees, ask if it includes charges for fuel, moving equipment and workers’ trips to and from the house.

Be clear about coverage. The federal government requires that moving companies offer two levels of basic liability: Full value and released value. These are not insurance. Full value protection costs extra and means the mover is responsible for the entire value of shipped items. The released value option adds no cost, but significantly reduces what the mover must pay in case of breakage.

Some companies will offer, through an affiliate, insurance policies that require upfront coverage payment and payment of a deductible if you make a claim. Not all states allow movers to sell insurance. You can also choose a third-party policy, sometimes through your home insurance provider.

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care.

©2014, http://www.angieslist.com/
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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