How to Choose a Moving Company

Friday, 1 March, 2013

Moving is stressful at the best of times and few would call their last move the “best of times”. Planning and preparation are key to reducing stress. The most important thing is to start planning early because if the moving company or rental truck you’d like to use is booked, the stress has already started! Moving high-season is generally mid-June until July 31st.

Truck3Choosing the wrong mover can turn a stressful experience into a nightmare. Arriving at your new home to find your heirloom(s) in pieces or your beds wet isn’t what you paid for. Make sure you’re mover has experience for the type of move you’re making whether its cross-town or cross-country.


 Things to Think About

  • Does the company agree to abide by the terms of the Good Practice Guidelines for Canadian Movers?
  • Do they provide documentation on customer/mover rights and responsibilities?
  • Do they provide material on mover liability for loss or damage and optional insurance available? Pay close attention to the limits of liability and how much they pay on claims. The basic insurance is usually a bare minimum.
  • Are they insured? Ask them to provide you with the insurance company’s name and policy number.
  • Will the company you hire do the actual work or will it be sub-contracted? If a contractor is used, you need to investigate them with the same intensity as the company you contract. What is their record like? Get references.
  • Will all people  providing services at the beginning and end of the move, such as packing/unpacking, claims settlement, and storage be fully covered by insurance? We’ve heard of cases where the mover used temp people who weren’t covered for packing/unpacking.
  • Does the mover have a Workers’ Compensation Board certificate? If not, you may end up paying for any employee injuries during the move.

Ask for an estimate

  • Get a written estimate for any major move. The moving company needs to see the items to be moved in order to prepare an accurate estimate. They can identify hard to move items and suggest items that require special equipment, doors or walls removed or extra  insurance.
  • Create an inventory of major items and a summary of everything else. It will help you identify items that need special care or may cost more to move.
  • Can boxes from other places like a grocery store be used?
  • Are any licences or customs documents required, e.g., at border crossings? Who will prepare them?
  • Ask the mover about insurance and if items packed by you are covered. If you care about your stuff, insure it appropriately.
  • Get everything committed to in writing. At the end of the move, if it’s not on the contract, memories tend to be short. Get the person’s name who you talked to and be sure the dates agreed to are on the contract.
  • The estimate should include the total cost, number of boxes and special items to move, the cost per hour for extras, payment terms, dates when things are to happen,  the size and value of everything to be moved, insurance included. Don’t sign a contract unless everything is detailed on it.
  • If other companies are to be  used at any stage of the move, especially if moving out of the country, get the contact info for all sub-contractors.
  • The price should be similar to other estimates you get. If a company is significantly lower than others, chances are that service could be sub-standard or extra fees will be charged at the end of the move. Once you have a company that looks good, negotiate for a better deal.
  • Ask about their cancellation policy and any cost to change dates.

Insurance – Don’t count on the mover’s basic insurance for anything you care about

  • Check with your home insurance provider to find out if your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will cover you during a move. What is the deductible and does it cover “All Perils”? Anything less may not be enough.
  • Inquire about the mover’s Replacement Value insurance. Make sure it covers the cost to replace items, not the depreciated value. How much does it cost? Does it cover items packed by you and is there a deductible? Make sure that the total value estimated by the mover is what you estimate it would cost to replace everything being moved.
  • Get the insurance details in writing so you can review them later.
  • Be sure you know what the process is for submitting a claim and what the time limits are.
  • Identify the difference of liability between owner-packed versus mover-packed cartons and special care items (i.e. glass, marble, and other “at owner’s risk” items that are not packed professionally).


This article was inspired by the Industry Canada article: The Consumer Checklist for Choosing a Moving Company