Although you’ll probably have to sign and keep track of several important documents during your home sale, home purchase, and relocation, we suggest you pay special attention to the Bill of Lading you receive from your moving company. That’s because this document is your primary contract and agreement when it comes to moving your belongings. In fact, it’s the last thing you sign before we head out of your old home and the first thing you sign when we arrive at the new one.
What is the Bill of Lading?
Every Bill of Lading varies depending on your moving company, but all are legally required to provide you with:
> Physical address and contact information for your moving company
> Moving van ID number
> Proof of moving company insurance and licensing
> Estimated cost of the move
> Payment options and due dates
> Dates for estimated delivery
> Penalties and per diems
You’ll also find that the Bill of Lading includes information on your original estimate and your order for service. It also includes a master inventory list that you sign before the truck can leave.
It’s this last one that most homeowners are focused on—and for good reason. Without a complete and detailed inventory list (that you sign off on), there’s no way for either you or the moving company to ensure that every item is moved intact and in good repair. By keeping a master list of all your belongings and their condition, you have a legal document to prove your case, should something go wrong. We also use this inventory to help track items that go missing, so it’s beneficial to us both.
Why is the Bill of Lading Important?
Although it’s regrettable, there are moving companies out there that aren’t licensed to operate and that will take advantage of homeowners looking for a good deal. The Bill of Lading is one of your many protections predatory behavior. Because it contains all the information you need to track down the physical offices of the moving company and ensure that their licensing and insurance are up-to-date, it’s your form of backup, should something go wrong during the move.
If a company doesn’t offer you a Bill of Lading, or says it will be given to you after delivery, then something isn’t right. Always be on the lookout for red flags that a moving company isn’t out to serve you, and check in with the U.S. Department of Transportation for any and all concerns you have.