If you’re considering hiring a moving company, there are a couple of questions you need to ask prospective movers to narrow down your list. Answers to these questions give you an idea of whether the mover can meet your needs. These questions also help you determine whether the company is reliable.

Here are the things you should ask about.

Estimates and rates

Find out what the company charges. Rates for most moving companies depend on the weight of the cargo and the distance. Avoid companies that prepare their quotes based on cubic feet. It is important that the moving company gives you a written estimate stating all the charges. Make sure that both you and the company sign an agreement. Read the terms of the agreement carefully.

Subcontractors

In some cases, large moving companies subcontract smaller moving companies. Find out whether the company you’re considering uses subcontractors. If so, ask for a complete list of the subcontractors and research them as you would the company that you hire directly. There are just as many excellent subcontractors as there are substandard ones.

Additional charges

Ask about additional fees and when they apply. Some movers apply additional charges for awkward items, destinations that are hard to access, and loads that need to be carried by hand over a specified distance.

These extra fees are called long-carry charges and flight fees; discuss them with the moving company ahead of time. You can reduce or eliminate these added fees by arranging for parking and elevator usage.

Moving companies can apply transportation surcharges or fuel surcharges to move items to remote areas. You may need storage for your items if they cannot be unloaded when they arrive at the destination. In that case, the moving company can apply storage-in-transit and warehouse handling charges. You can avoid these extra fees by preparing your new residence in time.

Additional transfers

A long distance mover may need to transfer your cargo from one truck to another, increasing the risk of loss or damage. When choosing a moving company, find out if it does these transfers. Transferring cargo from one truck to another is especially risky during the rainy or winter seasons.

Insurance

Request for the details of the moving company’s insurance, which it provides for an additional fee. In most cases, the weight of the cargo will determine the insurance you need. Assess the value of the goods and compare it with the amount the insurance policy will offer in compensation for damage or loss. Find out whether your home insurance offers coverage for moving.

Packing and storage

Ask the moving company how it packs, labels, and protects your items. Most companies provide free blanket wrap service and shrink-wrap for your sofa. Smaller companies may offer these services for a fee. Find out how your goods will be labeled and how they will be identified when they arrive at the destination.

Keep an accurate list of all single-piece items, the ones packed in boxes, and odds and ends. Find out whether the moving company applies appliance-service charges. If so, ask how they prepare appliances for transport to see if it’s something you can do yourself or find someone to do it for you.