If you are going to hire professional movers for your next move, it is imperative that you take the time to thoroughly investigate the company. While moving scams are rare, they do happen. The last thing you want is to have a rogue moving company driving off with all of your stuff. Even if the moving company is legit, they may not be licensed or insured, which can spell many other problems. Here is what you need to know to check out a moving company before hiring.
Moving Company License Requirements
A license is required for ALL interstate moves. Interstate moves are regulated by the US Department of Transportation (USDOT). However, it is different with local (in state) moves. Some states do not require a license at all, whereas other states have strict laws regarding licensing. Even if moving companies are not required by law to have a license in your state for local moves, you should still always choose a licensed mover. This is a sign that the moving company is reputable and trustworthy.
What is a DOT Number?
All interstate moving companies are required to have a Department of Transportation license, more commonly called a DOT license. Many states also require a DOT license even for local moves. Ask the moving company to provide you with their DOT license number so you can look them up.
What is a MC Number?
In addition to a DOT license, moving companies must have the proper operating authority. This can be MC, FF, or MX depending on the type of authority. MC (Motor Carrier) is the most common operation authority for moving companies. You should also ask the moving company for the MC number, and this too can be used to look up the company.
How to Check DOT and MC Numbers?
You can go to this page at the US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to look up a moving company by their DOT number or by their name or state. Alternatively, you can access the page through http://www.safersys.org from here, you will need to:
• Click on Company Snapshot
• Enter the DOT license number and hit search
• If the number is valid, then you will get a page of information about the company
You should look for these things in the DOT license listing of the moving company:
• Does the company name, address, and phone number match?
• Look at the “power units” and “drivers” area. This is how many trucks and drivers they have. Does this match up with what the moving company told you – like if they say that they do 200 moves per month but only have 1 truck listed.
• Look at the area titled “MCS-150 Form Date.” This is the date that the moving company applied for the license. It should match with how long the company said they were in business.
• The following areas should have an X next to them: “Auth for Hire”, “Interstate” and “Household Goods”
How to Check the Moving Company’s Insurance?
It is CRUCIAL that you check the moving company’s insurance. Don’t just take their word for it when they say they are insured! Otherwise, this could cause some serious problems for you. For example, if a mover gets injured while moving your belongings and the company doesn’t have insurance, then you can be held liable for all medical expenses for the mover.
You can check the insurance at the same place you checked the DOT license info. At the bottom of the report on the SaferSys page, you will see a hyperlink to a page called “FMCSA Licensing and Insurance Site.” Click on this link.
Here you will find information about the moving company’s insurance policies. As before, you will need to make sure that the name/address/phone number of the company match up. Then look for this information:
• Authority Type: There will be an area titled Authority Status. This should read “common” or “active.” If it says “No” “Revocation Pending” or “Application pending”, then find a new mover!
• BIPD: You will see a table which lists the BIPD insurance. The minimum requirement is $750,000 coverage. Look for the area titled “Insurance on File.” If it says “No” or “$0”, then find another moving company!
Check the Better Business Bureau
If everything is okay with the USDOT number and insurance, then you will want to check out the moving company at the Better Business Bureau. *Tip: When talking to the moving company, ask them of any other names they operate under. You will want to look them up at the BBB for all the names they use.