Cover story: Finding the right mover

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Most moving companies have a three-hour or 3,000-pound minimum, Ms. Rothschild said.

Interstate moves are always priced according to the weight of your belongings and the mileage. Mr. Crawford said that even though a move from the District to Northern Virginia or Maryland crosses state lines, if you are moving within the D.C. region it is considered a local move.

“We provide a thorough estimate that spells out every part of the job, such as how many boxes we think are needed, the number of hours the move will take and the number of men required,” Mr. Crawford said. “Some other movers just provide a total, so it can be hard to compare estimates.”

While not every moving company can provide an immediate in-house estimate during the busy summer season, if you must wait a week or longer to receive an estimate, this may mean the moving company cannot properly handle your move.

“If one company is offering a much lower price, that may be tempting, but it could mean they won’t provide good customer service,” Ms. Sullivan said.

Unlike many other service providers, moving companies generally do not require a deposit. Ms. Reed said it could be a red flag if a company does ask for a large deposit.

“Sometimes in the busy summer season we ask for a small deposit so we know we have a firm commitment,” Ms. Rothschild said. “But no one has to give us a deposit. Some people want to do it in order to reserve a date.”

An important consideration even after you have chosen a moving company is how your valuables and your furniture will be protected. All moving companies by law must offer valuation protection of 60 cents per pound of goods, but if you have a valuable small item that weighs little and gets broken, you could end up being reimbursed just $1.20.

“We recommend getting an optional full-value replacement coverage, which follows a formula of $6 per pound,” Mr. Crawford said. “So if someone has 10,000 pounds of belongings, they are covered for $60,000. You can reduce the cost of the coverage by choosing a higher deductible.”

You also should check your homeowners or renters insurance policy because some policies offer coverage during a move. If you have high- value items such as antiques or artwork, Ms. Sullivan recommended specifying those items and discussing insurance protection for those items with your mover.

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