Do You Understand Your Moving Documents?

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Narrowing down a moving company to help with your transition is just a fraction of your ever-growing to-do list. Using professional movers is a great decision, but how can you make sure that decision doesn’t end up costing you in the long run? According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation, a legit mover will likely provide you with a combination of the following documents to solidify and legitimize your move.

Estimate
“The estimate should clearly describe, in writing, all charges for services the mover will perform. Make sure the estimate is signed by the mover. Do not accept verbal estimates.”
Generally speaking, professional movers charge based on two very important factors: the amount of time your move will take, and the amount of stuff that needs to be moved. If you are moving locally, expect an hourly rate. In many cases, you may be charged for a minimum number of hours (typically two or three), even if your move does not require that much time. For long distance moves, some companies actually charge by the estimated weight of your belongings. This can be tricky because the actual weight can differ quite greatly come moving day. The best estimates are drawn up at your place since an over-the-phone quote could be incredibly inaccurate. The point is, get an estimate and make sure you agree to the terms before signing off on it.

Order for Service
“The order for service is a list of all the services the mover will perform and shows the dates your household goods will be picked up and delivered.”
In short, this document will clearly outline what services you will be paying for. For example, if the movers will also be doing any packing or disassembling of furniture on your behalf, those tasks would be listed on the order for service. Any other special requests would also be included for this document. It is common for some people to need to make a drop off or pick up stop at their storage unit. Whatever duties you expect your movers to perform, they should be on this document before you move any further with the process.

Bill of Lading
“The bill of lading is a contract between you and the mover and a receipt of your belongings. You should be given a partially completed copy of the bill of lading before the mover leaves the residence at origin.”
This document is usually presented to you on the day your items will be picked up. It serves as the official contract between you and the moving company you have hired. Pay attention, though, because the bill of lading should also resemble your order for service document. This document, like any other, should never be signed until you agree with all of its contents. This, along with your original estimate should be kept in a safe place during the move. Do not pack it away–you may need to reference these documents if something comes up.

Inventory List
“The inventory is the receipt showing each item you shipped and its condition. Be sure you receive a written copy of the inventory after your household goods are loaded, and that you agree with its description of your household goods’ condition.”
After your move is said and done, this document will be crucial to ensure that your stuff made it safely into your new place. If you notice anything missing or damaged, do not waste any time. Contact your moving company immediately to rectify the situation.

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