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How to Hire Movers in New York City

By Margaret Kelly | April 14, 2015 8:09pm | Updated on April 15, 2015 7:40am
 Moving professionals and organizations offer guidance on how to hire someone to transport your stuff. 
Moving in New York City
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NEW YORK CITY — Whether you're relocating down the block or across the country, things can get complicated fast. Fortunately, those facing the daunting task of schlepping their stuff in New York City have a wide range of professional movers to choose from and a wealth of resources for approaching the task.

Here are tips from experts on how to make a move easier.

1. Make sure your mover is legit.

When selecting a mover, make sure your candidates are registered with state or federal transportation authorities. Registered movers are required to meet certain insurance, safety, and financial standards.

"Moving in New York State is one of the most regulated business[es]," said Yuval Kravitz, owner of Brooklyn-based Om Moving.

Signs of scams or disreputable movers include lack of advertised physical address or phone number, requests for large deposits up front, or very low price quotes. 

State and national agencies offer free guides outlining your rights and responsibilities when hiring a mover. Those relocating within the state should consult New York's Department of Transportation's "Summary of Information for Shippers of Household Goods," while interstate movers can read the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's "Rights and Responsibilities" guide. Both offer detailed information on movers' legal responsibilities, required paperwork, avoiding loss and damage, and how movers ought to calculate total cost.

Clients can verify that interstate movers are registered by searching the federal dabatase; state licensing can be verified by calling the state Department of Transportation at 518-457-6512.  

2. Get price quotes in writing.

After you've narrowed down your list to several possible companies, ask for quotes far ahead of moving day.

"The ideal would be anything from a week in advance to two months," Kravitz advised. 

Jon Katz, CEO of Katz Moving, recommends two weeks' notice during "off season," which he identifies as October through March, and "at least a month" during "peak moving season," April through September. 

Some moving companies will offer estimates remotely, but they may not always be accurate or trustworthy. 

In an email, Katz wrote that he "highly encourage[s] clients to ask for in-home estimates from every company they consider using."

The American Moving & Storage Association, recommends that consumers obtain three written in-home estimates before selecting a mover. 

Julie Shea, co-owner of Jackson Heights-based Shea Moving Corp, explained in an email that a responsible moving company should never offer a binding estimate "without knowing what you really have."

A reputable mover, she wrote, would want to know the number of large items as well as "the approximate number of boxes, quality of the furniture, amount of artwork and things that will need to be taken apart" before issuing an estimate. 

Some movers offer a flat rate, while others charge based on the length of time the move is expected to take. 

3. Know your mover's packing practices.

In addition to wrapping items carefully to protect damage, consumers should consider what measures movers take ensure that articles remain safe in transit. Some may wrap furniture with pads or blankets, repackage items that have been boxed poorly, or secure items with cardboard or wood crating. 

When preparing your belongings for the trip, don't assume that movers will dismantle or pack your items or provide materials for doing so. Many companies will offer such services, but often at additional cost. Be sure to negotiate details beforehand.

4. Protect your property with insurance.

Licensed movers are normally required to offer a minimum liability coverage of $0.60 per pound per article for intrastate moves and $0.30 per pound per article for interstate moves, Katz said.

Clients can also obtain additional coverage through insurance riders provided by their homeowners and rental insurance, or by purchasing separate movers' insurance. 

However, liability may be limited if damage occurs due to a deficiency in the item itself or due to the quality of a packing job completed by the customer. Particle board or engineered wood furniture are also typically exempt from coverage.

5. Check your building regulations and the travel route.

Be sure to consider the regulations of the building you'll be exiting as well as your new one, movers advised.

Some buildings require companies provide proof of insurance before movers can begin working. Buildings with elevators and limited parking generally require advance notification of the move. 

Other factors that may affect the job's length and cost include parking regulations, the route you'll take, and road restrictions on your moving vehicle like bans on double-parking for trucks in Midtown, Kravitz said.

As departure day approaches, consider completing a moving checklist such as this one provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

6. Make sure you have a bill of lading on moving day.

Before or at the time of loading, your mover should issue a bill of lading, which serves as your formal contract. (The order for service is part of the bill of lading.)

This crucial piece of paperwork lists the move's start and end date, total cost due, and how the client has agreed to be billed.

Make sure you keep track of the bill of lading until the shipment is delivered, all charges are paid, and any open claims have been settled. A standard bill of lading template can be viewed here

If you have any issues with damage or loss, you should file a complaint quickly, in writing, with the moving company. If the issue isn't resolved, file a complaint the the state or federal transportation authority.