By Mackenzie Stewart
Senior Voice 

Do your homework before making a move


“The average family moves or changes homes every five years,” says John Bissell of Royal Alaskan Movers, and in honor of the beginning of a summer of endless brown boxes and packing tape, the Better Business Bureau dubs May as National Moving Awareness Month. The month may be wrapping-up, but movers are just kicking into high gear in Alaska.

When looking for a moving company, it’s important to take note of the kind of moves the moving company usually performs, says Matthew Voisine, office manager at the Denali Group.

“There’s a big difference between a company that caters to local moves versus companies that specialize in long distance moves,” he adds.

While long distance movers are more focused on packaging everything carefully, local moves are a bit more flexible. In order to save some cash, if you’re up to it, Bissell and Voisine alike recommend packing your everyday items before the movers even get to your house.

“This way you can pack away valuables in a safe place and label your boxes in a way that helps you once you get to your new place,” says Voisine.

Another great thing to look out for, Voisine says, is the type of insurance policy the moving company already provides. Thirty cents per pound is the industry standard as far as reimbursement goes, says Voisine. If your lighter electronic items, like a Blu-ray player are damaged in a move, they might be worth $200, but due to their small size, at 4 pounds a player, the moving company’s insurance would only be obligated to pay $1.20 for the entire player. Purchasing additional insurance will ensure that your belongings are fully covered.

Remote locations

Moving from the bush is slightly different though, says Bissell. Because of distance, moving companies can’t necessarily send a surveyor out in person to measure the client’s shipment, so instead, they call the client and use a special measuring tactic to find the weight of the move.

“It’s usually pretty accurate,” Bissell says. “We do a lot of these moves because a lot of people come from the bush.”

Save yourself

Believe it or not, Alaska has been moving license free since 1985, meaning moving companies in Alaska are not required to provide a moving license or insurance for their company, according to Bissell. This has allowed numerous moving companies to spring up since the mid-80s. Therefore, Bissell’s number one tip would be to avoid what the moving industry refers to as “rogue movers.” Rogue movers typically pick up anyone off of the street to do the moving and packing, and without proper background checks, who knows what could happen to your personal items?

Don’t worry though, not all companies are untrustworthy, says Bissell. Aside from rogue movers, Bissell says to do as much research as possible. Clients should:

• Look up how long the company has been in business

• Review the company’s scores on the Better Business Bureau and Yelp!

• Keep valuables separate from the rest of the items to be packed

Despite the lack of rules, there are many great companies within Alaska.

“Just use common sense, and don’t trust the companies that other people don’t trust,” Bissell says.

But the best thing you can do in the midst of a move, says Voisine of his past days as a mover, is to offer your movers water.

“It’s like being at the gym for eight hours a day and is much appreciated,” he laughs.


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