One of the most complicated parts of a move can be understanding the terms written in the moving company’s service agreement. Sometimes as moving & storage professionals, we can forget that several of the terms we use may not be familiar to those who don’t do this work on a daily basis. It’s very important that you understand all of the terms in your service agreement so that you know exactly what you are being charged for and how those charges are being calculated. That’s why we created this list of terms commonly used in moving and storage service contracts.
Bill of Lading — This is the contract for the receipt of your goods and for their transportation. The bill of lading is the main, enforceable contractual agreement between you and the moving company. It is your responsibility to understand the bill of lading before you sign it and to not sign it until you are satisfied.
Advanced Charges — In many cases, you may request services that must be completed by a professional, craftsman or another third party. Some moving companies will cover these charges up front and add them to your bill of lading charges.
Binding/Non-Binding Estimate — It’s very important to understand the difference between a binding and non-binding contract. Both are estimates that are provided by the moving company before moving day. A binding estimate guarantees the total cost of the move based on the quantities and services shown on the estimate. A non-binding estimate is the mover’s approximation of the cost based on the estimated weight of the shipment and the accessorial services requested. The final charges of a non-binding agreement will be based on the actual overall weight of your belongings and tariff provisions applicable to your area of origin and destination.
Accessorial (Additional) Services — These include services like packing, unpacking, or a declutter service that you request to be performed, or that are necessary due to the nature of your move. These services usually incur additional charges that are added to the regular transportation charge.
Transportation Charges — Charges for transporting your goods in the moving van or truck. This is the main cost of your move.
Guaranteed Pickup and Delivery Service — Some companies offer an additional level of service that guarantees dates of service, with the mover providing reimbursement for delays. This premium service is often subject to minimum weight requirements and often incurs an additional fee. Some moving companies, however, offer this service at no additional charge or include it with certain service packages.
Pickup and Delivery Charges — These charges usually apply only to those opting for long or short-term storage in a moving company’s warehouse. These are separate charges for the storage of your goods and their transportation between the warehouse and your home. You may see some, or all, of these charges described as Storage-In-Transit (SIT) charges. The term SIT usually describes temporary services requested due to the nature of your move. For example, if your new home is not ready and you need a place to store your belongings in the meantime.
High-Value Article — Any of your belongings that are valued at more than $100 per pound. You should let the movers know about any and all items that fit into this category to ensure that they are properly protected.
Inventory — A detailed list that describes all of your household goods, showing the quantity and condition of each item upon the arrival of the movers.
Order for Service — This is the document that authorizes the mover to handle and transport your belongings. Think of this as a consent form stating that you requested the services which will be provided.
Shuttle Service — This term is used to describe the use of smaller vehicles to provide service at locations not accessible to the mover’s normal moving truck or van.
Valuation — Valuation is a term used mainly in the insurance industry to describe something’s degree of worth. Many companies charge a valuation fee to compensate the mover for assuming a greater degree of property liability than is provided for in the base transportation charges. Basically, valuation is assessed because the total value of all of your belongings is greater than the cost of the move.
Hopefully, this list makes understanding your moving quote easier. Remember to always carefully read your quote and be sure that you are comfortable with everything in it. Understanding your service contract is a vital step toward a stress-free move.