Are My Movers Licensed and Insured? (And Does it Matter?)

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Updated: We’ve added updated info and new links for 2019.

First of all, I want to say, “well done.” If you’re taking the time to ask this question and figure out the answer, you’re off to a great start! Nothing will ruin your move more than becoming the person in that horror story who has all their belongings stolen by their movers or is charged 300% more than the original quote. It’s important to protect yourself from rogue movers and scammers operating nationwide.

What is a “licensed mover”?

Regulations and requirements for licensure vary from state to state. You can check out your state’s requirements here. Some states require movers to register with the state as a moving company and to offer at least two options for insurance (full-valuation or released-value). Some states have additional requirements. Beyond insurance, states might set standards regarding estimates, liability, mover agreements, etc.

If you are moving across state lines, your mover should have federal licensure, meaning the government has signed off on their business. Being licensed requires the movers to follow certain guidelines regarding insurance, safety measures, financial responsibility and so on.

If your potential movers will be traveling across state lines, check to make sure they are licensed for interstate moves on this government website.

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What is an “insured mover”?

When I first got into the moving business, I struggled with understanding the difference between a mover who is insured and one who offers insurance.

If your mover is insured, it generally means they carry basic moving insurance (release value insurance) that will cover a very small portion of damage or loss to your stuff while they’re handling it (typically at a payout rate of $0.60 per pound, per item). So a dropped 10 pound, $1,000 TV would only see an insurance check of $6.00!

“…ask them for a copy of their COI (Certificate of Insurance) and to see their state and/or federal license.”

A small handful of movers offer an even better option – the opportunity to purchase additional, full-valuation insurance. Full-valuation covers the total cost of repair or replacement in the event that your movers ruin or lose seriously valuable items during your move (e.g., gold and fine china).

Make sure you about this critical difference.

How do you know if your mover offers insurance?

The first and most obvious way for you to check out your mover’s credentials is to simply ask them. However, if you ask a thief whether or not they are a thief, they won’t likely tell you the truth!

So with that in mind, ask them for a copy of their COI (Certificate of Insurance) and to see their state and/or federal license. If you’re booking a mover online, they will likely have credentials listed on the site you’re booking through. The FMCSA (listed earlier) is also available if you want to be absolutely positive about their current licensure status.

As far as insurance goes, ask for everything in writing – on paper or via email. You should have your coverage in writing not only to retain proof of that coverage, but also so you know exactly what you’re entitled to in the event that something is broken or lost.

Have a story to share? Please share your moving insurance stories, tips, and experiences – good or bad – in the comments below.


Victoria is enjoying her summer time off from grad classes by soaking up rays, spending time with family and working with HireAHelper from her small town in Nebraska (aka “the good life”).

How to Use a Moving Dolly Like the Pros

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Moving house without a hand truck – or a moving dolly – is like riding a bicycle without a seat. It’s technically possible, but honestly, who does that?

A sturdy, reliable hand truck is any mover’s best friend. Used properly, it saves you time, rescues your back and it can singlehandedly keep your stuff from getting damaged.

(Thinking of a square furniture dolly?)

But they’re not as easy to use as they look, provided you are using them in the proper way. With that in mind, here are tips compiled by moving pros as to how to optimize that hand truck you found in the back of your moving truck, or that one your friend let you borrow and you don’t want to return broken.

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5 Ways to Show Your Movers Some Love

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Not many people love to move. But doesn’t it feel good to be moved? To have your entire world hauled safely onto and off of a truck by a crew of quick, efficient, polite movers?

This week in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’d like to share five things you can do to return that love, whatever time of year you move.

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The (Un-Criminal) World of Hostage-Taking Movers

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[Synopsis: Fraud and deception runs rampant in our industry. Why isn’t more being done?]

We bust our butts to do our jobs well, to treat our customers right and give our industry a good name. But we still hear about swindles, scams and those customers standing out in their own driveway facing a hostage situation. To those lucky enough to not know what I mean…

Hostage situation:  A mover has your stuff and won’t give it back but under certain conditions.

How do these guys get away with it? They’re relentless. (And almost as successful as the fraudsters running that Nigerian Prince e-mail scheme.)

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A Customer and His Gun

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[Synopsis: Remind your customer what can and cannot go on the truck before there’s a showdown.]

Once upon a New York move, one of my crew came across a wooden box high up on the shelf of a customer’s walk-in closet. Naturally he opened it to see what he was going to be packing – and found himself looking at a handgun.

He closed the box and put it back on the shelf, then told me what he found. I went to the customer – who had already told us to pack up everything in the closet – and let him know that he still had his handgun in there and that if he wanted us to take it he would need to confirm a couple of things for us: was it in working condition? Was it was loaded? If so, he would have to unload it, as we are not allowed to transport ammunition. In cases of guns, we have to also record the make, model and serial number.

“I’ll take care of it,” he said rather curtly, and went upstairs.

Later he approached me with a concerned look on his face.

“So why was your guy looking through the boxes in my closet?” he asked. This is a fair question for any customer. For a guy with a lot of valuables, not to mention at least one gun, it can be an even greater concern.

“It’s not unusual,” I replied. “Some things we’re not allowed to take, so for liability reasons we need to know what we are packing.” In this case, we wouldn’t be able to take any ammunition that could have been in there. Plus there are things like jewelry and other valuables that we always suggest the customer take with them, instead of a moving truck. Our job is to keep things safe.

That answer seemed to satisfy him, albeit barely. He ended up taking his handgun away with him.

From the customer’s perspective, having one of their move crew open up a box and find their gun can be unsettling, and can even seem pretty shady. Same if it were a box full of jewelry, or expensive watches, or cash. That my guy came straight to me and told me about it so I could bring it up with the customer shows a solid level of honesty, not to mention responsibility. But from the customer perspective, all they see is a mover who was opening boxes and found their gun.

So what should you do?

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An informed customer will know that we can’t take certain things and should take other sensitive items with them, versus putting them on the truck. But most customers, no matter how informed, can hardly be expected to remember all the things movers won’t take. They’re kind of busy, you know, moving.

So remember to give your customers a verbal rundown of these things before the actual move, and again on the actual day of the move. This can minimize – if not eliminate – the chances of you or your crew someday coming face to face with a loaded gun.

The Most Common Mistakes in Moving Your Alarm System Are These

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According to the FBI, home burglaries are the most common threat to a home. Burglars are nearly three times more likely to target homes without alarm systems.

There’s a loophole in the alarm system marketplace though; People cite moving as the number one reason why they cancel their alarm system service. Considering the average amount of times a person moves in their lifetime is currently calculated at over 11, now must be a good time to be a burglar.

But there are ways to make moving an alarm system way more effective. Yeah, moving the system can be a pain, but these things will make the entire process far more effective and easier.

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How NOT to Lose Important Docs Amidst Moving Chaos

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How to Keep Important Documents Organized on Moving Day

I am a self-proclaimed organized person. Open my pantry, peek in my coat closet, heck you can even investigate my bathroom vanity and I’m pretty very confident you are going to find orderly spaces with a lot of neatly labeled bins.

[Tweet “Call me crazy, but I just can’t seem to function when things feel cluttered… #TypeA”]

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Should I Call a Locksmith After I Move In?

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Category: Buying & Selling a Home, Moving Checklists & Planning

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When moving into a new home, we understand that you probably have 1,000+ things to tackle on your to-do list, but today we want to squeeze one more thing on there.

Change your Locks!

Why Change your Locks? (more…)

How to Pack Dried Flower Arrangements

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How to pack dried flower arrangements

One of the golden rules of packing is “Keep it tight”. Make sure there’s enough paper in there to prevent items from shifting. Fill in all the holes.

Then again, rules were made to be broken – sometimes. (more…)

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