Consult your state moving association (that’s us!) or the American Moving and Storage Association for assistance.  We know who the players are and can help you in your research.  (For a list of other state moving associations, click here)


State law applies if you are moving within Illinois, and the Illinois Commerce Commission is the regulatory agency.  Their website includes a list of all movers who are licensed and insured, and the site includes a complaint


In Illinois, if you are putting goods in storage at a mover’s facility (and not into self-storage), a specific warehouse license from the Illinois Commerce Commission is also required.

Federal law applies if you are moving across the state line, and movers must have a specific household goods license for your interstate move. includes valuable consumer information to help you choose wisely and a complaint database on all licensed and insured interstate movers.

The Better Business Bureau maintains a complaint database.  Caution:  Do not rely merely on the A, B, C, etc. “grade” shown on the BBB site.  Scroll down on the page and look for the NUMBER of complaints shown.

How many complaints are too many?  No matter what the salesperson tries to convince you, and regardless the number of moves they say they do in a year, if a company shows more than 3 or 4 complaints within a 3 year period, keep looking.  You’ll easily find movers with zero complaints, and we can help you!

If you’re checking on a van line rather than a local agent of a van line, keep in mind that the complaint record will be skewed because that record is a composite of ALL their local agents throughout the country.  So check on the local agent’s record instead.  We can help you figure it out!

Flammable items (paint, paint thinner, nail polish remover, propane tanks, etc.), firearms, important papers, medicines, money, coin collections, jewelry, and similar items.  The mover is not responsible for items like these (as it will state on the bill of lading).  They should remain in your safekeeping and transported yourself in your car.

Some buildings will need a Certificate of Insurance (COI) so they know the mover will cover any damage to the property you are moving out of or into. Please speak to your property manager about this well ahead of time so everything will be in place on moving day.

If you choose to do some or all of your own packing in preparation for your move, boxes should be packed tightly with padding after items are inside to prevent shifting during transportation. You can use anything like packing paper, blankets, towls, or linens to pack these boxes tight. Be sure that the top of the box is firm and that you do not leave any empty space inside which would cause a box to crush.

When packing your dishes, the plates should be wrapped in paper and stood on end (not stacked flat) to minimize stress on the plates.  Check out our video library for more packing tips.

Do not pack boxes too heavy!  For example, books should be packed in smaller cartons so they can be moved without causing back strain for you or for the mover!

Most electronic items are best transported when packed safely in cartons.  If you no longer have the original packaging (such as for your flat screen TV), the mover can offer suggestions for safe packing.

Most movers do offer packing service (not all do).  In Illinois, packing must priced per carton (not by the hour) so the mover is not under pressure to hurry and thereby jeopardize the safety of your items.

Remember, if the mover packs the carton, then the mover is liable for any loss or damage during the move.  If you pack your own cartons, then the mover is liable for loss or damage only if there is obvious damage to the carton (such as crushed corners).

Talk with your movers about wardrobe cartons.

Discuss this with your movers during the estimate.  Not all dressers are strong enough to be moved with things packed inside; the mover can give you advice after looking at everything.

Many times lightweight soft items can be left in the dresser drawers; heavier items should be packed in boxes or suitcases or duffel bags.  Be sure to remove heavier, loose items that could fall out or get broken during transport.  ALWAYS REMOVE JEWELRY, MONEY, FIREARMS, PERSONAL ITEMS, AND HIGH VALUE ITEMS and carry those items yourself.  The mover is not responsible for those types of items.

That is a service that can be discussed with your mover during the estimate.  Some movers may be willing to do that for you others will prefer not to for liability reasons.  Remember that on local moves time is money, so make sure everyone understands up front what service is to be provided.

That is a service that can be discussed with your mover during the estimate.  Remember that on local moves time is money, so make sure everyone understands up front what service is to be provided.

To save time and ensure safe transport, it’s best that your household goods be packed in cartons.  Plastic bags may work on things you’re transporting yourself, but cartons are easier to stack on a dolly and wheel out to the truck quickly, and they can be secured better once inside the truck to avoid shifting.  Be sure the top of the carton is flat and taped securely.

The customer is expected to have walkways clear of all obstructions before the movers arrive to ensure safety for all concerned – and to save time and money on your move.

While your mover will make every effort to accommodate you, please remember that movers’ schedules fill up, especially during the peak moving season.  If your mover is unable to accommodate your new date, contact our Association office for assistance in finding a new mover.

Your belongings will be protected before they leave the door on days when the weather is not cooperating. If severe weather conditions are forecast and the mover’s schedule allows it, you may be able to re-schedule your move if needed (but only if the mover’s schedule allows it.)

Absolutely.  However, you might want to discuss this with your mover during the estimate to see how much (if any) this might save you in the long run.  You may find that the savings are minimal compared to the time and gas money you spend doing it yourself!

Remember that time is money – if you intended to do your own packing but you are not ready when the movers arrive, the move will cost more.

Moving is a huge responsibility, and the move will go much better if you are there.  Remember that the contract is with you, and only you are authorized to sign the bill of lading and make important decisions.  If you must have someone stand in for you on move day, you’ll need to provide a power of attorney naming that person as your agent.

For liability reasons, the movers will ask that only their crew be involved in moving your household goods.  If you want to have your kids be on site at either origin or destination to make sure nothing gets left behind, that’s ok.  Remember that the contract is with you, and only you are authorized to sign the bill of lading and make important decisions.

For the safety and security of your pets, its best that they not be under foot while the move is happening.  Crating, boarding with a friend or kennel, or put in a special room at your new home is best for all concerned.

The more information you can provide to the moving crew when they arrive for your move, the smoother and faster the move will go.  A floor plan that coincides with room labels on the packed cartons is a great idea.

Gratuity is NOT required or expected (and certainly should never be requested!), but it is not uncommon for customers to tip their movers. If you choose to tip the crew members, the amount is entirely up to you. Similar to any other tips, the tip may be based upon the service you feel you received. Some customers base their tip off of how much work the packers and or movers have done for the day or multiple days.

Depending upon how long the move takes, some customers provide lunch and cold drinks (water or soft drinks), which is very much appreciated by the crew.  If you go pick up lunch (pizza, sandwiches, etc.) and bring it to the job site (or have it delivered), it can usually speed up your move.  You are not charged for the time spent during breaks or lunch, but the easier you make it the faster they can get the job done...and they appreciate your kindness!

Each move will be different. The size of your home or business will typically determine how long your move will take. There are many variables in this industry including long walks, elevators, packing, closing schedules for home sales. Please schedule an in-home estimate so that your mover may look at all these variables with an experienced eye and give you an accurate estimate.

Travel time is the time it takes the mover to get to and from your old and new home.  Travel time applies only to local moves, and the mover must disclose the travel time charges on your estimate in advance.  The travel time is included in the mover’s tariff.

No.  While experienced professionals can come very close, the estimate is not a binding price. The law for moves within Illinois says actual charges will be based on the time and number of crew on local moves, or the actual weight (for which you will be provided a certified weight ticket) and distance.

If the mover estimated too high, you only pay the actual charges.  If the estimate was too low, on move day the mover must release your goods when you pay the estimated cost plus 10%.  You’ll still be responsible for the balance within 30 days.

In Illinois, binding estimates are prohibited. For some interstate moves (crossing state lines) or in some other states (not Illinois) a binding quote may legally be provided.  Be aware, however, that if any of the circumstances about the move change (dates, you add more items or additional services), then the quote is no longer binding.

Illinois state law requires that movers charge according to their tariffs that are filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission.  Discounts or guaranteed prices are not allowed except in very specific limited geographic areas.

Moves within the State of Illinois can be priced by the hour if both the origin and destination of the move are within 35 miles of each other OR are entirely within the area that includes Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties. Within Illinois, moves that don’t meet that criteria must be priced by weight and distance of the move. If you’re moving across the state line, moves are priced by weight except short distances in very specific, limited geographic areas.  The mover's tariff determines the rate you will be charged. In Illinois, your mover must file rates with the Illinois Commerce Commission, so there can be no "let's make a deal" for your move.

  1. Look for the mover’s license number in their advertising and on their paperwork.
  2. Check their complaint history everywhere you can search!  If a mover has more than 3 or so complaints within a 3-year period, keep looking (even if their price sounds “really cheap”) because you’ll find other movers with NO complaints!
  3. Consult your state moving association (that’s us!) or the American Moving and Storage Association for a list of qualified, reputable movers in your area.
  4. Buy local!  If you do your shopping on the internet, you’ll have no idea who you’re dealing with – or how to find them later if something goes haywire.
  5. Skip Craig’s List.  The majority of postings are from unlicensed bandits using a throw-away cell phone.  You know nothing about them or where to find them later, but they’ll see everything you have and know where you live.  Do you want them casing the place for a return visit??

Be cautious!  Review sites on the internet can be helpful, too, but remember you don’t know who’s really planting all those rave reviews.  Free review sites don’t check a mover’s credentials; and far too often unlicensed, uninsured, and unscrupulous bandits get a free pass.

An in-person estimate is ALWAYS best.  The moving consultant will be able to give you a much more accurate estimate after SEEING all the items you’ll be moving in your home (including stairways, elevators, driveway access, basement, attic, tool shed, etc.), and asking you questions about the destination.  The purpose of an estimate is to let you know how much you’ll be expected to pay on move day and to help the mover plan for adequate crew and equipment.  The better you let the mover do his job on the estimate, the better prepared everyone will be!

An in-home estimate also gives you the chance to meet a representative of the company you’re considering.  Is this person professional?  (On time, organized, knowledgeable?)  Interviewing the moving consultant can give you a good idea about the company’s hiring practices and professionalism.  Would you trust this person with all your possessions?

Be careful about filling out one of those search forms on the internet.  Those are broker sites, and you’ll be flooded with hundreds of calls from all over the place.  Slick promises on the phone or internet are no substitute for an in-home estimate.

30 days out (or more, if you can) should give you time to do your homework on the movers and arrange for several movers to visit your home to provide a written estimate. The earlier you contact your mover the better prepared you will be and the better your selection of movers will be.  Good movers’ schedules fill up quickly!

Do your homework up front!

No matter where you are moving, your best protection is to choose a licensed, professional mover.

This article describes your options for moves within Illinois.  Other states have different regulations, and moves across the state line (interstate moves) do, too.  You can find more information about other state moving associations here and information about interstate moves here.

Under Illinois law, anyone offering to perform moving and storage service for hire must be licensed by the Illinois Commerce Commission.  No exceptions!  This licensing assures you that the mover is adequately protected by liability and cargo insurance and workers’ compensation insurance and that you have somewhere to turn if things go wrong.  Using a “cheap” mover from the grocery store or truck rental place bulletin board does not offer any assurance that your goods will show up at your destination or that loss and damage will be remedied.  Furthermore, it's illegal for an unlicensed person to offer moving service,  regardless what that person tells you.  Trust us, you want your mover to have more than just a driver's license and auto insurance!  Ask to see their credentials!  A legitimate mover is happy to share them with you.


Your move is not automatically fully insured to the full value of your property for potential loss and damage.  This summary is designed to assist you in choosing the option that is best for you.

Before you choose an option for loss and damage protection, give some serious thought to the value of your possessions.  The amount of your homeowners (or renters) insurance contents coverage is a useful guide.

The time to consider the value of your goods is BEFORE THE MOVE.  “You can’t change horses in mid-stream!“ The bill of lading is your contract.  Your signature with the option you chose on the bill of lading will determine the final settlement if something unforeseen happens.


Why don’t movers just provide insurance automatically?

Loss and Damage Protection options are available because customers have different needs based on the nature of their possessions and how much they want to pay for the move.  Some customers need $500,000 of coverage, while others might need only $500 or even no extra coverage.  If movers included in their rates the costs for providing coverage based on the customer who needs $500,000, everyone they move would be subsidizing someone else’s coverage.  That’s why the mover’s tariff rates are based on the minimum carrier liability (See Option 1) and more extensive liability options will cost extra.

Your option can be either “valuation” of the shipment (which is like self-insurance by the mover), or “insurance,” in which case you should receive a certificate of insurance issued by a third party insurance company.  Unless you choose full replacement INSURANCE, your contract will determine the depreciated value of the entire shipment according to what you sign on the bill of lading.

Remember that the mover’s first obligation, under whatever option is chosen, is to make repairs to the damaged item.  If it becomes necessary to “cash out” a claim for the actual cash (depreciated) value , the mover is entitled to take possession of the damaged goods.  (This does not apply at the “30 cents” option.)

What are my choices?

Under Illinois law you choose one of the following options for your intrastate (within Illinois) move.  Options for interstate (between states) moves are similar in many ways, but the amounts differ.  Ask your mover for a thorough explanation if you have questions, or feel free to contact our Association for help.

Option 1:  Minimum carrier liability 30 cents per pound per article.

This is minimum liability, for which you pay no extra transportation cost.  You are agreeing in writing to share with the mover the liability for loss or damage of your property being moved.  If your goods are damaged or lost, the mover’s maximum liability to you under this option is 30 cents per pound per article.  For example, 10 lb. lamp x 30 cents = $3.00.  You would be given $3.00 for that particular lamp.  To choose this option (and avoid any extra transportation charges), you must specifically write on the bill of lading (in your own handwriting), “30 cents per pound per article” and sign the bill of lading.  In the unlikely event of a total loss, your maximum settlement with the mover will be based on 30 cents per pound per each article in the shipment.

Option 2:  Declared Value

You determine the total amount your shipment is worth and declare that amount in writing on the bill of lading.  (Your homeowners’ insurance or renter’s insurance contents coverage is a good guide to determining the value, or multiply $2.00 times the weight of the shipment.)  This declared amount becomes the mover’s maximum liability to you under the terms of the contract (bill of lading).  There is a tariff charge (normally 50 cents per $100 of value) and this is for depreciated value of the shipment .  THIS IS NOT INSURANCE.  You and the mover are agreeing to share the liability at a higher amount than the “30 cents” option.

Be careful about undervaluing your shipment, since in the unlikely event of a total loss, the maximum amount you will receive as settlement from the mover is the amount of value you declared on the bill of lading (contract).  If all you declare is $5,000 because you "only really care about a couple of items," then $5,000 is the maximum amount you would receive even if there is a total loss.

Example of the extra transportation (tariff) charge for this option:  $20,000 shipment value x 50 cents per $100 of value = $100 additional transportation charge.

If there is a claim, the mover is not obligated to write out a check to you for the  declared value of the entire shipment unless the entire shipment is completely destroyed.  Each damaged item will be repaired or replaced according to its depreciated value, not to exceed the shipment’s declared value (in this example the total declared value is $20,000).

Option 3:  Insurance

Your mover may be able to help you arrange for “trip transit” insurance through his insurance carrier in the amount you specify.  This is "all risk" insurance coverage from a third-party insurance company and can be either depreciated or full replacement insurance.  You should receive a certificate or policy of insurance.

Movers are not allowed to sell insurance unless they are licensed insurance brokers, so this coverage must always be through a bonafide insurance company that is licensed to write insurance in Illinois.  Be sure to ask if there is a deductible (you’ll save money that way, just like car insurance).  Unless the mover’s tariff specifies otherwise, there will be a charge for this coverage.  You may also want to check your homeowner’s policy to see if it provides coverage during your move (most do not).

What if I don’t choose anything?

If you don’t make any notation on the bill of lading indicating a choice for loss and damage protection, the mover’s maximum liability to you under the law is $2.00 times the weight of the total shipment.  Example:  Your shipment weighs 10,000 lbs. x $2.00 = $20,000 value.  It works the same way as declared value (See Option 2).  This is depreciated value, not replacement coverage or insurance.  Unless the mover’s tariff provides otherwise, there will be a charge for this.

Limit of Liability on “engineered wood” furniture:

“Ready to assemble” furniture is defined as articles constructed of press board, particle board, and/or engineered wood, which are shipped from place of manufacture in a knocked down “KD” or knocked down flat “KDF” condition, to be assembled post-factory by a store, reseller, or end user.

“Ready to assemble” furniture is not built to withstand the normal stresses of a move as an assembled unit.  Most is not designed with the extra wood structural pieces to adequately brace the unit for movement out of or into a residence, nor the normal truck vibration, even in air-ride trailers.  Usually chips or dents are not repairable.  Surface impressions can be made on the furniture when writing on a single piece of paper.  The pieces will not withstand typical stacking and placement among other items on the moving truck without sustaining damage.

Because of the inherent nature of this type of furniture and its susceptibility to damage, your mover may not accept liability for damage if you ship such pieces fully assembled.  You should disassemble such furniture yourself or hire a third party to disassemble it for you before moving.

After your move:

Your mover will do the best job possible and try to avoid any loss or damage.  Accidents do happen, however, so remember:

Be sure to keep a copy of the bill of lading and (if applicable) inventory.  Be sure any damage is noted on the bill of lading on the day of delivery.

Notations made at the time of delivery are not the same as filing a claim.  If there is loss or damage, you must file a written claim with the mover within ninety (90) days of the move.  Be realistic — the longer you wait to file your claim, the more difficulty you will have in substantiating your claim.

The mover has a right to inspect any damage, so keep the damaged article and packing material for inspection.  It will help substantiate your claim.  It may be possible to replace pieces, such as glassware or china, even if they are part of a set.  Do not hire a repair firm without consulting first with the mover.

Be aware of the coverage option you chose at the time of the move, and do not expect the mover to change the coverage “after the fact.”  Your signature on the bill of lading will determine the mover's liability.

Your mover is required to acknowledge your claim within 30 days and to pay, decline to pay, or make a firm compromise settlement within 120 days of receipt of the claim.  If some situation beyond a mover’s control delays action on your claim for a longer time, the mover is required to notify you of the status of the claim at that time and each 30 days thereafter until final action is taken.

The options described apply only to cargo claims.  Damage to the residence or other property is separately insured by the moving company.

Please contact the mover and ask for the claims department.  The mover will make arrangements for someone to come and inspect the damage and settle your claim accordingly.

Please contact the mover and ask for the claims department. You will be sent a claim form to fill out and return to the mover.  Please note that your claim will be processed based solely upon the valuation selection that you declared and signed for on your bill of lading.

For moves within Illinois, you have 90 days from delivery to file a claim.  For moves across the state line, you have 9 months from delivery to file a claim.  These timelines and the claims procedures are outlined in the law.  The mover must follow the regulations when settling your claim.