Any time you wish to hire a reputable moving company, you’ll first go through the estimate process. This is the time when we visit you at your home to make an assessment of your belongings. We don’t move anything, and you aren’t under any obligation to hire us afterwards, but this is our way of determining how much you can expect to pay for your move—as well as inform you of all the rights and responsibilities that come with it. If a mover gives you a price without evaluating much stuff you own, do not use them.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all movers to provide this estimate in written form. It must be dated and signed by both the mover and yourself to ensure its accuracy.
Because this is such a formal process (overseen and regulated by the government), there are a few things that are legally required to be in the estimate.
> Binding vs. Non-Binding: This designation will determine your final rates. A binding estimate provides a cost that will stay the same no matter how much your home’s contents end up weighing. A non-binding estimate is a valuation based on sight, and your actual moving costs may vary depending on the weight of the contents of your home. This is the most important part of your estimate, as it will determine the bottom line.
> Liability Coverage Options: This is another very important part of the estimate, as it informs you of the mover’s liability for your goods. Pay close attention to this section, since you’ll need to make a decision about what kind of coverage you want for your move.
> All Charges: The estimate should also contain a written estimate of all the costs you can expect to pay for your move, including transportation costs, fees and taxes, deposits, potential storage costs, and additional services (like packing, unpacking, or specialty moves). This helps you plan your budget for your move and also ensures that there are no surprises come moving day.
In addition to these basic items, you should always make sure that there are no blank or incomplete areas in the estimate. This is so the mover won’t go back and fill in or change that information after you have signed the form.
Once the estimate has been signed, it’s a good idea to keep a copy of this somewhere you can access at any time. Remember, too, that this is just an estimate—not a promise of the final cost. Although estimates cannot be updated or changed once the shipment is loaded, there may be alterations in the days leading up to the move.