7 On Your Side: Tips for hiring reputable movers in the age of COVID

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Scheduling a mover has taken on a greater sense of urgency in this age of COVID, but hiring movers is part art and mostly science.

7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has the tips to smooth out a stressful situation.

It's mass migration. According to postal records, during the last eight months of last year, more than 300,000 residents left New York City's five boroughs.

A leading moving company says the New York, New Jersey area leads in the nation in out-bound hauls.

ALSO READ: What to do if you have stimulus payment problems

Here is how to make all the right moves:

First up, about two months before your move, start researching moving companies. The Better Business Bureau will show you ratings and if there are outstanding complaints from customers. Make sure the mover is licensed. Interstate movers must be licensed by the Department of Transportation. Intra-state movers must be licensed by your state.

Unlicensed movers are a dime a dozen. Every year we've been there as New Jersey Consumer Affairs nabs unlicensed movers in a sting operation, some people who showed up were carrying drugs, didn't have a driver's license, and a few even had active arrest warrants. It's pretty scary who shows up. Make sure you check to see that the moving license is active.

Also, get at least three binding estimates. Because of COVID, in-person at your home estimates are out. But, reputable companies like Mayflower allow you to do a virtual estimate using a cell phone to show how much you have to move.

Next up is insurance. First, check out your homeowner's insurance to find out if you have coverage. You should also consider buying extra insurance through the mover. If you don't, typical mover contracts only pay you by the weight of the damaged article, which turns out to be pennies on the dollar for your most precious possessions.

Some other big takeaways, before your big day, don't forget to update your insurance, both homeowner's and auto.

Transfer utilities out of your name. And change your address with the post office, plus your driver's license, vehicle, and any credit cards. Bon Voyage!

ALSO READ: Beware of delivery reimbursement scams

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