Initial moves by you can help reduce the stress of moving day
Moving can be one of the most stressful events in a person's life. A household move involves relinquishing control of all your earthly possessions to a stranger at a time when you're already frazzled with emotional upheaval, major decisions and heavy expense.
Still, 74 percent of those preparing to move will hire a professional mover to haul at least some of their possessions, according to a recent consumer survey by relocation.com, a one-stop shop for moving advice.
For folks moving within Florida, intrastate movers are regulated under the Moving Services Act. They must be registered by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Moving companies are required to provide a written estimate and contract. Make sure they include the name, telephone number, physical address and state registration number of the mover.
Contracts should include the date they're prepared and the proposed date of the actual move, the pickup and delivery addresses, an itemized breakdown and total of all cost and services provided and the forms of payment accepted.
The shipper's name and telephone number, preferably a cell phone number, should appear on both documents.
Ask friends and relatives for recommendations, and then get estimates from at least three moving companies.
Online estimates are fine for ballpark figures, but they're no substitute for having an estimator visit in person and view all the items that will be moved.
Phone your local Better Business Bureau or consumer protection agency to check the company's rating and complaint history, if any.
Things that will affect the cost of your move include distance (for long distance moves), time involved (for local moves), weight and volume of shipment and any special services required, such as packing or packing materials.
Movers must carry some liability coverage for damage or loss of your goods, as well as vehicle insurance. They also have to carry workers' compensation coverage. You should ask to see proof so that you're not liable if a worker is hurt on your property.
Make sure you understand coverage for loss or damage. The law provides that the mover can't pay less than 60 cents per pound, per item, but this is a bare minimum. You should always move anything that can't be replaced yourself.
Don't sign a bill of lading unless and until you're sure all the things that left your home have arrived at their new destination. Do it no matter how exhausted you feel or how late the hour. Inspect large items like furniture, appliances and artwork for damage and note it.
If it becomes necessary to file a claim, do so in writing as soon as possible. Follow the mover's instructions about what kind of documentation is required and make copies of everything you send. Mail it certified, return receipt requested.
To verify your mover's registration with the state, get more information and tips on intrastate moves or file a complaint, visit the Division of Consumer Services at www.800helpfla.com/ moving_text.html or call toll-free 1-800-435-7352.
Coming Wednesday: out of state moves.