Packing priceless possessions: How professional movers can provide peace of mind

AUTHOR: Jamie Livengood

Learn how to pack and protect your valuables for a big move—and when to call in the pros.

Fragile, valuable and bulky items are challenging to pack and move, and it can be expensive or impossible to replace them. Professional movers share how to protect your belongings during a move.

During a move, the process of packing and transporting every last belonging in your home is daunting and loaded with logistical challenges. You work your way through each room of your house, packing away the usual items: bedding and clothing, pots and pans and books, picture frames and wine glasses.

Then you come to the things that require extra care and consideration. It could be a delicate antique dining table, a piece of artwork on a grand scale or a 700-album vintage record collection. These things hold extreme sentimental or financial value, and you would be heartbroken if they were damaged or lost in transit.

Or maybe you have a piano or a pool table that you can’t bear to leave behind. How do you even formulate a plan to move these behemoths down your front steps, much less across the state? The prospect can be so intimidating that, rather than deal with the hassle of moving them, some homeowners leave their large items in the house for the next owners to either enjoy or eject.

Special Movers Protect Valued Items the Way You Would

All The Right Movers, a New Jersey-based high-touch concierge packing and moving firm, has perfected the practice of efficiently and safely transporting these specialty items. Though it may be tempting to save money by moving such things yourself, “it can be more cost effective in the long run to turn to a professional rather than risk damaging or destroying a high-value item,” said Erica Giorgiantonio, vice president of All The Right Movers.

According to Giorgiantonio, the advantage of the professional touch lies in both the expertise of the movers and the high-quality, specialty packing materials. First, a project manager performs a walkthrough inventory of the home to provide an initial estimate.

“People want the convenience of an online estimate, but an in-person estimate is much more accurate,” said Luke Monte, All The Right Movers’ project manager. “As a mover, I need to be able to see the items that might need a little extra attention, and often clients stumble on something in a closet or attic that they forgot about altogether.”

The Right Packing Materials Makes All the Difference

The project manager notes any special requests or concerns from the clients, outlines a plan to protect the most sensitive items and, on the day of the move, supervises staff to ensure that plan is carried out as specified. Each full-time staff member receives training on proper packing and moving technique.

Giorgiantonio also emphasizes the importance of using packing materials appropriate for the job at hand. All The Right Movers selects high-quality, biodegradable material intended for specific purposes. For example, a specifically designed cushion for large flat-screen televisions ensures that a TV will stay upright through the trip and never lie flat, reducing the risk of breakage.
“Some of these materials can be more expensive, but when protecting fragile, valuable items, packing is not the place to cut corners,” said Giorgiantonio. To reduce the cost of moving breakables, she recommends saving and reusing the original packaging whenever possible. However, the greatest additional cost in moving specialty items is the time it takes a team of professional movers to pack them properly.

“For fine china, stemware, and silverware, for example, our movers need to wrap and place each item individually,” explained Monte. “Packing a china cabinet with service for 12 can add up to five hours to the move time.”

Insure Your Specialty Items, Even When You Use the Best Movers

The extra care in packing can reduce the chance that fragile items are damaged in transit, but for items of extraordinary value, insurance is the ultimate protection. Moving insurance covers items at 60 cents per pound. For reference, the Mona Lisa in its frame weighs about 200 pounds, so if it were damaged during a move, moving insurance would pay out $120. The better option is to invest in a policy specifically for smaller, high-value items like artwork, or look into whether homeowners insurance will cover them during a move.

As for larger pieces, All The Right Movers is most commonly called upon to move pianos and pool tables. The estimate to move these items is based on their dimensions, weight, and location. It’s easiest to move heavy, bulky fixtures to and from the ground floor or via traditional staircases. For more awkward spots, homeowners may need to call in a specialty mover to use a pulley system to safely maneuver the items.

“There are some items no reputable mover will work with,” said Giorgiantonio. All The Right Movers’ services exclude living animals, hazardous materials, ammunition, and firearms. If you have a priceless gun collection, you may have to move that yourself.

Then there are some items it’s just wiser to handle personally during a move.

“We always recommend that clients put fine jewelry in the suitcase they’ll keep with them while they travel,” said Giorgiantonio. “That’s also how you need to move your prescription medicines and any important documents, including receipts and appraisals. But, aside from those things, All The Right Movers is equipped to handle the rest.”