A Guide to Mover Contracts and Paperwork

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If you're hiring movers, you should know the type of documents the moving company needs to provide and what each document is for. While contracts can feel a little intimidating, knowing what each means and what you're signing is key to having a successful and smooth move.

Mover Estimate

When the movers visit your home to assess your household good that you'll be moving, they will provide you with a copy of the moving estimate.

This document should outline what kind of estimate it is - whether it's a binding or non-binding - and how they reached the final amount. It's important that you ask any outstanding questions at this point, including if you have any items that require special handling as that will increase the estimated amount. Remember, this initial visit by the movers is the time to ask all the necessary questions.

Order for Service

After the first mover visit and once you've agreed to the estimate, you'll receive an order for service. This is your official contract between you and the mover. The order for service will provide you with everything you need to know about the move, including the date of pick-up, the estimated date of delivery, the estimated amount, insurance coverage and terms of the contract. Terms may include cancellation policy, type of truck to be used, goods that the mover will not move, and extra fees that may be applicable for your specific type of move.

The order for service is your agreement that the mover can move your things. So make sure you read this document carefully. If you disagree with something the mover has noted, speak to the person in charge immediately. This is your time to negotiate and to ensure that you're getting optimal service.

Bill of Lading

This is one of the most important documents that you'll receive from your mover. This will be given to you on moving day and it will outline your agreement of the move. The mover must have this document in order to move your things. You will be asked to sign the document stating that you agree to the terms: the list of fees for service and total cost, pick up and delivery date, insurance coverage, and an agreement statement. Make sure you read over this document carefully. The terms you agreed to earlier should be the same as what is listed on this form. Specifically, note the fees listed and make sure they match what you were quoted earlier. If there are any discrepancies, bring them to the mover's attention. Do not sign the form until you're certain of the terms. The mover will also sign the form and give you a copy which you should keep with you at all times. This is your official record of the move and your receipt of service.

Inventory Sheet

On moving day, you'll also receive an inventory sheet that lists everything that the movers are responsible for moving. The inventory sheet will be filled out by the movers as they remove things from your home, tagging each item and noting the tag number on the sheet.

You should always be involved in this process to ensure that each item is tagged and recorded properly. Often, movers will insist that you record the tag numbers to ensure your full agreement and that no items go missing. The inventory sheet is your guarantee that everything in your home has been properly inventoried and loaded on the truck.

The inventory sheet will also be used to note the arrival of your things at your new home. The mover will ask that you sign the sheet after all items have been accounted for. Makes sure you note any damage or missing items. These items should be flagged and the mover should sign that they are missing or damaged. This will make it easier for you to make an insurance claim.

High-value Inventory Sheet

If you have items of high value, the mover will provide you with a separate list of items and the cost of moving each.

Again, make sure the items are properly tagged and that the cost reflects your previous agreement. Some movers will insist that they pack these items or if they are packed by you, that proper measures were taken to preserve their value. These items should be inspected upon arrival at your new home to ensure they were not damaged during transit.