Understanding Your Mover's Paperwork

Understanding Your Mover's Paperwork (Source: Pixabay CC)

Congratulations! You're making it through the home buying process, and it's time to put your plans for the big move into action!

Hiring a reliable moving company is on your to-do list. All of your friends and the entire internet seem to have an opinion on the matter, but you've narrowed it down to a well-reviewed and seemingly economical choice. You schedule a meeting to get an estimate and a better understanding of the company.

When you sit down with a representative, you go over the logistics: Here's where you are, here's where you're going, these people are coming with you, and you have this much stuff. Compared to the home search and inspection process, this conversation feels much easier - It's a first sign of the light at the end of the tunnel, after all!

Then, your mover gives you a stack of paperwork to look through. 

(Like we said, hiring movers is the first sign of light, not the entire beam.)

It might be tempting to shrug off this round of documents and scribble initial on the dotted lines, but this is definitely a scenario where a little bit of extra work can save you hundreds of dollars and a lot of headaches. Take some time to know what you're signing!

Here's a breakdown of what should and shouldn't be doing with your mover's paperwork:

1. Securing an Estimate

In your conversation with the mover, you need to receive one of three different kinds of estimates. 

The first is a binding estimate. According to Angie's List, this type "guarantees the cost based on a survey of the items to be moved and the services listed on the estimate sheet." Your mover will walk through an inventory of your items and then offer a price that you'll both agree upon. Be aware that your mover might pad the price a bit to keep themselves protected, and anything that you add after this point will result in extra charges. 

The second type, a non-binding estimate, is not guaranteed and is essentially an educated guess from your mover based upon your inventory. The final weight and distance will determine the actual number you pay, and your mover should explain the equation they use to figure this number. They should also issue the weight tickets that they receive from a certified scale. There are no guaranteed prices in this scenario. 

The third, a guaranteed not-to-exceed estimate, is a documented agreement based off of a binding agreement or the final cost (whichever is lower). It puts a cap on the amount your mover can charge you. 

Note: Make sure that you discuss payment options with your mover. You don't want to wind up in your new driveway trying to a write a personal check to a company who doesn't take them. 

2. Bill of Lading

It's time to play another round of "Sign This Contract!"

The bill of lading is the complete sets of terms from your mover, and there are several items that this document must have:

  • The Moving Company's Contact Info - Make sure that all of the information is accurate and includes the company's Department of Transportation and operating authority numbers. 
  • Your Contact Information - Your old and new addresses should both be listed here. 
  • Your Move's Timeframe - If your movers gave you a guaranteed date and time and do not meet these terms, they must compensate you. 
  • Provided Services and Rates - Confirm any specific requirements of your move. 
  • Your Payment Method - This section must clearly communicate the timeline of your payment plan, the minimum charges of the move, and the required deposit. Again, most movers accept multiple forms of payment, but if your company demands cash, you might be dealing with a business that requires a little more investigating. 
  • The Insurance Coverage - Did you purchase an insurance policy from a third party? Here's where your policy's information will be listed. The dispute settlement policies will also be made available here. Ask questions if you are not sure how to make a claim for a damaged item with your moving company. 
  • Valuation Addendum - You will also have the option to document a designated value for your shipment and can use this information in purchasing Full Value Protection and Released Value. These policies provide support and replacement should your items be stolen or ruined. 

3. Your Inventory

Your mover needs to provide you with a list of all of the items they've agreed to move that describes their condition accurately. Review this both before the move and after, as it is your responsibility to alert your mover to any items that are broken or lost. Make sure you have them make the correct notations to show that they've acknowledged the issue. 

Now that you're in the process of beginning your relocation, building a working vocabulary of the right words and understanding your moving company's terms can help smooth the transition. And, if you have a loved one on the housing market, send them to Real Group for an uncomplicated and friendly home buying experience like yours! We welcome referrals!

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