Residential Moving FAQ
Are moving companies required to transport my items for the quoted estimate?
This depends on whether the estimate is binding or non-binding. Secure all estimates in writing. Ensure that the written estimate clearly states if it is binding or non-binding. If you were given a binding estimate, the moving company is legally required to adhere to that estimate.
What do the following terms mean?
Non-binding estimate: This describes an estimate that can change. Non-binding estimates should give you a good idea of what the cost of your move will be. Generally, a mover will visit your site to inspect the goods he or she will be moving. Adding items or services after receiving an estimate may result in a revised or voided estimate. Non-binding estimates must clearly be labeled “non-binding” and must be in writing.
110% rule: Should the final cost exceed the non-binding estimate amount; the mover will deliver items after receiving payment for the estimated amount plus 10% of that amount. Then, the mover must suspend the balance due on the charges for 30 days.
Binding estimate: This term is used for a fixed price estimate. A binding estimate is a legal agreement between you and the mover. Binding estimates outline an agreed upon price to move your items, and the cost to move your items will not go over that price. Additional services are paid for at delivery. Binding estimates must be secured in writing.
What paperwork and other information is the mover required to provide?
Prior to executing the order for service, commonly during the estimate, movers must present:
- A copy of a written binding or non-binding estimate
- A copy of the U.S. Department of Transportation pamphlet, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”
- Neutral dispute settlement and/or arbitration program information
- Contact information for the company, including direction for questions and complaints
At the time of execution of the order for service, the mover is required to provide you with a copy of the order for service after being signed by all parties involved.
At pick-up time, the moving company must provide a copy of the bill of lading.
At unloading time, or delivery, the mover must provide a completed copy of the bill of lading.
What is the order for service? Is it a contract?
The order for service is a document that authorizes a mover to ship your belongings. This document is not a contract. It will note an estimated charge and any special service provisions.
What is the bill of lading? Is it a contract?
The bill of lading is a contract between you and your moving company. Given to you before your items are loaded, it is your responsibility to thoroughly read the bill of lading before you sign it. If you are unsatisfied with any portion of the agreement, discuss it with the mover before signing. Retain this document throughout the entire move.
If the mover doesn’t pick-up or deliver my belongings according to the dates agreed upon, what happens next?
Moving companies are bound by reasonable dispatch requirements. This means that they are required to transport your belongings, within reason, during the scheduled times and dates. Check the order of service and bill of lading for these dates. External forces that are not in the mover’s control, such as inclement weather, can be acceptable reasons for a delay.
Will I be financially compensated if my belongings are not transported and delivered as promised?
This depends on your circumstance. If you find yourself in this situation, you can file a delay or inconvenience claim with your mover. Include any receipts or papers documenting your food and lodging expenses reaching beyond the last day of the pick-up or delivery spread dates.
Remember, the mover is not required to compensate you, so legal action or arbitration may be necessary. If, however, the mover rejects your claim, you have the option to pursue civil action within two years of the disputed incident.
What are my options for insurance?
Depending on your moving company, you can expect to have three options for protecting your lost or damaged goods. These options are limited liability, added valuation, and full valuation.
Limited liability: This coverage is considered “basic,” as it is required by law. This coverage is free of charge to the customer. Under this protection plan, the moving company is responsible for $0.60 per pound, per item, for out-of-state moves.
Added valuation: For more coverage, pursue an added valuation plan. This protection plan gives you the opportunity to collect compensation based on the current replacement cost of your lost or damaged items, minus their depreciation. The price of this coverage varies, as it depends on the declared value of your goods.
Full value: For the most coverage, purchase a full value insurance plan. This is the most expensive plan, since it will cover the actual cost of your belonging’s repair or replacement without deducting depreciation.
Before you purchase insurance from your moving company, consult your homeowner’s insurance provider to compare policies.
If any of my belongings become lost or damaged, how much time is there to file a claim?
Generally speaking, you will have 9 months from the delivery date to file a claim.
If I’m unsatisfied with the amount the mover compensated me for damaged or lost items, what else can I do?
At this point, your next step is to pursue further compensation in court or through arbitration. If you decide against arbitration, you must bring your suit to court within two years of the issue.
If I pack all my belongings myself, is the moving company still responsible for lost and broken items?
Yes. The moving company generally carries a tariff provision that gives them the authority to repack any boxes or cartons they suspect may have been packed improperly.
Additionally, the moving company is responsible for any damages or losses incurred during transport, unless the cause was wholly due to any of the following common law defenses:
- Act of nature
- Act of public enemy
- Act of public authority
- Act of, or omission by, the shipper
- Inherent vice
Improper packing is included under an act or omission by the shipper. Because the cause for damages must be the act of the shipper, any contributory damages by the moving company would void the common law defense, making the moving company responsible.
What do I need to know regarding pick-up and delivery dates?
Ensure that the mover provides you with a specific date or spread of dates on the order for service and the bill of lading. Do not accept these documents if the spaces for pick-up and delivery dates are blank. Ensure that your order for service dates are copied to the bill of lading, unless other arrangements have been made.
At pick-up: Make sure that the mover provides you with the bill of lading. Verify the name of the mover, the mover’s address, the telephone number, and their operating/licensing numbers (MC number, if out-of-state).
At delivery: You are expected to accept your belongings from the first date to the last date of the delivery spread dates. Refer to the order for service or the bill of lading for the dates or spread of dates scheduled for your project.
What do I need to know regarding pick-up of my furniture?
We recommend being present and available while your furniture is being loaded. Ensure that the mover has taken note of any chips, marks, or dents in your furniture prior to transport. Make sure that all item’s conditions are listed on the driver’s copy and your copy of the inventory sheet. Verify that all belongings to be moved are included on the inventory sheet.