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Important Things to Look for When Hiring a Moving Company

 

Choosing the right moving company is a very important decision. Finding a good moving company that follows professional, responsible, and ethical business practices is not always easy. The moving industry has long been inundated with illegitimate and unprofessional movers. Some of the most common problems involve bait and switch (billing much higher than original estimate), theft or loss of belongings, unresolved damages to furniture and homes, and failure to show up on moving day. Hiring the wrong moving company can be a disaster.

 

Here are 4 important things to look for when hiring a mover:

  1. Better Business Bureau No consumer should ever even consider hiring a moving company without checking the BBB report on that business. Ideally, they would end up hiring a BBB-accredited company that is A or A+ rated with few or no complaints against them. In cases where companies have multiple locations (and therefore multiple reports), be sure to check the report on the location you will be dealing with as well as the report on the head office location.
  2. Canadian Association of Movers. In an effort to protect consumers, CAM members must:
    • Provide proper written estimates before booking moves. An estimate means nothing unless it is in writing (or email) and based on an inventory list. Booking a mover over the phone or based on an estimate that does not include an inventory list greatly increases the chance that the move will cost more than estimated.
    • Prove incorporation in Ontario or Canada. A consumer can find the owner of a corporation if there is a problem. Many unregistered operations use privately registered websites and untraceable phone numbers to prevent consumers from finding them.
    • Prove they are registered with the Canada Revenue Agency for an HST number. Some illegitimate movers fraudulently collect tax even though they have no tax account.
    • Prove registration with the Workers Safety Insurance Board (WSIB). The WSIB protects employees in case of injury on a job and can also protect the consumer for related liabilities. It is also a strong indicator that companies use employees rather than day labour and contractors.
    • Be Insured for $1,000,000 in general liability insurance coverage. Liability insurance protects consumers against financial loss, major property damage, and loss due to injury.
    • Be Insured for $250,000 of cargo insurance coverage. If the moving truck were involved in a major collision, the customer could lose everything they own. Cargo insurance covers this kind of loss as well as other damages during transport.
  3. Reputation. Check the company’s reputation online – the most important reviews are the BBB, followed by Google and then sites like HomeStars and Yelp. Many companies post reviews on their own websites but these can easily be skewed or fabricated. There are also many fake rating/review sites that appear to be independent but are actually created by moving companies. Be cautious when looking at review sites related to only one industry. The best source of reviews are independent sites not related to one industry, especially sites that verify reviews like the BBB.
  4. Insurance. The level of liability accepted by moving company will determine how they handle a move. There are three types of coverage available to consumers:
    • BASIC INSURANCE.
      All moving companies are required by law to provide basic insurance coverage of $0.60 per pound. Unless the entire truck goes off the road, consumers are unlikely to ever see a dime of reimbursement through this type of insurance as the deductible paid to make a claim (usually between $200 and $500) would usually be more than the valuation amount (ie. A 200Lb leather couch is valued at $120). . Companies offering only basic coverage or protection are more likely to cut corners as they have less risk against their insurance.
    • PROTECTION.
      Most companies offering anything more than basic coverage provide “protection” which is not real insurance. It is an internal policy written by the moving company and is often very limited coverage but can vary greatly from company to company. Protection policies are only as good as the company standing behind them and are preferred by moving companies for two reasons:
      • It allows movers to charge for coverage. You must be a registered insurance agent/broker to sell insurance in Canada but anyone can sell protection as it is completely unregulated.
      • The policy acts as a buffer between the consumer and the moving company’s actual insurance policy. As with any insurance policy, claims can result in premium increases. By utilizing protection policies, moving companies with a high rate of claims for loss or damage can protect their insurance premiums from increasing as the claims are being handled internally rather than through insurance.
    • REAL INSURANCE COVERAGE.
      On rare occasions, some of the better moving companies will give you full access to their actual insurance coverage. Companies including full-replacement value insurance coverage will be much more careful in the way they protect your belongings and will spend more on professional movers and better equipment to ensure less chance of damage. If they end up with a claim against their insurance, their premiums could increase for several years. Usually, only companies with a very low loss/damage rate would offer this kind of coverage to their customers.

More on insurance versus protection here.

 

Regardless of which level of coverage is being offered, consumers should always ask for a certificate of insurance before committing to hire a mover.

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