So you’re finally making the big Chicago move, and you’re looking around for moving services. You find one that fits your budget and seems friendly enough. You’re good to go, right?
If you want the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re covered on all angles, you should be in the market for licensed and insured moving companies. After all, this is a piece of your world that you’re putting in someone else’s hands. Trusting professional movers at face value is nice, but seeing the credentials that back them up can feel even nicer.
How will you know for sure whether a moving company is legitimate? Here are the top things to pay attention to when you need to find a mover you can trust:
Insurance Options on the Company’s Website
Illinois state law requires a coverage minimum on all moves. This means a moving services website with no mention of insurance should be a red flag. If an uninsured moving company damages your items and can’t pay you back, you may find yourself wishing you had asked about insurance early on.
You should know that federal law requires basic liability coverage for moving services. If a moving company tries to deny this or make this information difficult to access, take that as a warning to stay as far away as you can. Moving companies are notoriously hard to sue, and a scammer might use this to their advantage when damage occurs.
The legal coverage minimum is still quite small, though, so a trustworthy moving service will give you a few options. This way, you can be as covered as you need to be.
For example, a great option for wider coverage would be a full-value protection plan (FVP). A plan like this provides repair costs, replacement costs, or a cash settlement when damage occurs.
Then there are cases where you can use your own insurance. For example, your homeowner’s insurance might be able to cover the move. The moving company should have no problem working with you on this.
If the service you’re communicating with refuses 3rd-party insurance or makes the process difficult, that’s a clear sign to take your business elsewhere.
State Licenses for Moving Services
There are state licenses and federal licenses a moving company might have. If you’re planning a move that doesn’t cross any state borders, what you need to check is whether the company has a state license.
A federal license, on the other hand, is only necessary when you need to move from one state to another. For example, if a Chicago mover is licensed for the state (like us!), you wouldn’t be able to hire them for an interstate move. You could, however, hire them to carry your things anywhere within Illinois.
Illinois state law mandates that “anyone offering to perform moving and storage services for hire must be licensed in the state of Illinois.” So if a moving company in Chicago promises a price that seems too good to be true, make sure to check whether they have a license. If not, something fishy might be going on.
A good rule to keep in mind is that the moving company should be more interested in moving licenses than you are. There’s no reason why a reputable moving service would hide their licensed status. It shouldn’t take you too long to find something on their website saying that they’re licensed in the state of Illinois.
If you can’t find any mention of a license, try to find the company on this official list of Illinois household goods movers—you can find us on page 3!
Getting an Estimate
A legitimate, licensed moving service should make the estimate process smooth and straightforward. An estimate is not binding, so it isn’t a guarantee of how much your move will cost, but it should give you a general idea of what to expect.
According to the Illinois Commerce Commission, any licensed professional moving service should give you a “free, written estimate of the probable cost of your move.” If a moving service tries to get away with only mentioning an estimate on the phone or in person, that’s not the company for you. Likewise, if they don’t offer an estimate at all, something’s clearly wrong. While estimates aren’t binding, they should be available to refer back to during and after your move.
Here’s why estimates are important to keep handy (and why a scam company might try to avoid giving you a written estimate): They act as a point of reference. The moving service should have a policy of what to do when the estimate differs from the actual charges.
Here at Moovers Chicago, a too-high estimate means you’ll only pay the actual charges, while a too-low estimate means the goods must be released when you pay the estimated cost plus 10%. This way, the customer is protected from being stuck with charges much higher than the estimated cost. If a company never gives you a written estimate, it will be difficult to defend yourself against astronomical pricing later.
Another reason licensed moving services are required to provide estimates is that this lets you be an informed customer. With an estimate, you can easily compare prices between different companies. If a company is serious about the quality of their services and believes they charge a fair price for the work they offer, they will happily provide you with a free, written estimate.
The good news is, if you’ve gotten this far, you already know that you’re savvy about protecting your belongings. After all, you’re putting in the work to do research on the company that will be in charge of your big move.
Moving isn’t easy, and the last thing you need is a choice between legal proceedings and a huge blow to your bank account to replace your lost items. When everything else can be so hectic, you deserve to work with moving services that put your mind at ease.