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How to Protect Your Belongings while Moving

The process of moving can be a stressful activity. Choosing a mover can present its own challenges, but can be made easier by keeping certain tips in mind. Knowing your rights and responsibilities, picking a registered mover, and reading all the documentation provided by the mover can ensure that the process goes off without a hitch. Understanding key definitions and adhering to a basic moving checklist can help you avoid problems, but in the event that a dispute arises, you should follow the protocol set forth by the moving company. To reduce the amount of potential problems you may face, it can be prudent to select a mover that is both registered and insured, and who will respect all of your rights.

Before beginning the moving process, you should find and read a pamphlet called "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move." This booklet will help you understand the terms of the contracts and documents that you need to sign when you choose your particular mover. Your brochure should answer many moving-related questions that you have but, if you still need clarification on some issues, try contacting the mover's official representative. It may be necessary for you to know certain key definitions for you to understand much of the information contained within the pamphlet, including which contracts you should sign and your rights as an individual. These definitions can include, but are not limited to: advanced charges, bill of lading, binding estimate, and non-binding estimate. Impractical operations, line-haul charges, long carry, and reasonable dispatch can also be terms that you will have to learn. You should use your pamphlet to help guide you towards picking a legitimate mover; it is available on ProtectYourMove.gov for download.

Determining which mover to use can be made easier, if you check each company against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA) for information about valid licenses, the United States Department of Transportation for registration records and verify that they are insured. Choosing a mover with all of these components can make arbitration and dispute settlements easier, in the event of a problem. You may also ask friends or neighbors for recommendations. Part of your moving checklist should include insuring all of your goods and determining methods of communication between you and the moving company during all phases of the transition.

Despite even the most arduous preparation, you are likely to have questions. If your question is technical, you can get answers from a driver; if it's legal, try to contact the mover's main office or headquarters. If there's a problem that arises during or after services have been rendered, you may want to refer to your rights and responsibilities booklet to help you determine the proper course of action. Should you still need clarification, ask your movers to provide you with additional written material that has been specifically designed to handle complaints. To ensure that you hire a mover who can graciously handle problems, you may want to verify a mover's reputation by consulting with FMCA records, the Better Business Bureau and the Bureau of Consumer Protection for information about any formal complaints lodged against potential movers.

Remember, while your moving company can be bound by contract to respect your rights, and provide you with the best service it can, you are responsible for ensuring that your goods remain protected and that the moving process is successful. One of the ways that you can do this is by exercising your right to be present during the moving process. You should make yourself available during the day of the move to supervise, give directions and answer any questions that the movers may have. It's also your responsibility to verify that the movers have taken everything you want moved out of your home or office. Paying the driver before your goods are removed from the truck and put in place at your new location may also be necessary. Double-checking inventory lists before and after moving can go a long way in documenting your items' whereabouts and determining if they have suffered any damage during the transition.

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