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What are my moving rights and responsibilities?

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Do you know if your household goods are protected in the event of damage or loss? How much are you going to end up paying, and when? Do you know what to do if a problem arises with your move?

It’s crucial to know what your moving rights and responsibilities are so that you know you’re protected and being taken care of. Your primary responsibilities include:

  1. Selecting a reputable household goods mover or broker that is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  2. Reading all documents provided by the movers and ensuring that you understand the terms and conditions of the moving contract.
  3. Knowing what to do in case problems arise. 

When you choose to move with Appleton, we’ll give you a booklet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” It fully defines your role as well as ours so you’ll know exactly what to expect. This blog post, which is also available as a downloadable guide, will give you a high-level overview about how FMCSA regulations protect you (the consumer) and your household goods carrier (the movers). 

What type of estimate do I have?

Movers are required to give you a written estimate (verbal quotes do not count!) of the cost of your move. The estimate may either be binding or non-binding. 

Binding estimate: A binding estimate guarantees that you cannot be required to pay more than the amount of the estimate. If any additional items are added to your shipment or you request or require additional services, you and your mover may: agree to abide by the original binding estimate, negotiate a new binding estimate, or convert the binding estimate into a non-binding estimate.

Non-binding estimate: A non-binding estimate is an approximation only and the actual transportation charges you are eventually required to pay may be higher than the estimated price.

Are my household goods protected?

Your estimate will also include which type of liability coverage will be offered for your household goods. All moving companies are required to assume liability for the value of the household goods they transport; however, there are two different levels of liability that apply to interstate moves. An essential part of your moving rights and responsibilities includes understanding exactly what coverage you have so that you’re prepared in the event of a loss.

Full (Replacement) Value Protection: This is the most comprehensive liability available, and it will be included in your initial estimate unless you specifically waive it. Under your mover’s Full Value Protection level of liability (subject to the allowable exceptions in your mover’s tariff), if any article is lost, destroyed, or damaged while in your mover’s custody, your mover will, at its option, either 

  1. Repair the article to the extent necessary to restore it to its same condition as when it was received by your mover or 
  2. Replace the article with an article of like kind and quality or pay you for the cost of such a replacement.

Movers are able to limit their liability for items of extraordinary value under this provision. If you have any high-value items (valued at more than $100 per pound per item), make sure to notify your mover to ensure you have adequate coverage in place.

Waiver of Full (Replacement) Value Protection: Released value provides very minimal protection, however it is more cost-effective since there is no charge for you. Under this option, the mover assumes liability for no more than 60 cents per pound, per article. Before choosing to waive full value protection, ask yourself if 60 cents per pound is enough coverage for your household goods or whether you need to purchase additional valuation.

Be sure you understand the mover’s responsibility for loss or damage, and understand the type of liability you sign for. DO NOT SIGN the delivery receipt if it contains any language releasing or discharging your mover or its agents from liability!

What paperwork should I expect to receive?

During the moving process, there are several documents that the movers are required to provide for you. For more information on what should be included in each document, please reference our booklet, which outlines your moving rights and responsibilities.

Order for Service: This important document provides you with written confirmation of the services you’ve requested to be performed. It includes the list of agreed dates for pickup and delivery, the amount of liability requested, and any special services you have ordered. This document also shows the charges that may be assessed for your move.

If you or your mover changes any agreed-upon dates for pick up or delivery of your shipment, or agree to any change in the non-binding estimate, you mover must prepare a written change to the order of service. 

Inventory: The mover must provide a list of inventory to make a record of the existence and condition of each item before it is moved. After completing the inventory, both you and the mover will sign each page. You have the right to note any disagreement. When your shipment is delivered, if an item is missing or damaged, your ability to recover from the mover for any loss or damage may depend on the notations made on this form.

Bill of Lading: This document clearly outlines you and your mover’s moving rights and responsibilities. It requires the mover to provide the service you requested and requires you to pay the charges for the service. The driver who loads your shipment must give you a copy of the bill of lading before or at the time of loading your shipment. Do not lose or misplace your copy; it’s important to have it available until your shipment is delivered, all charges are paid, and all claims, if any, are settled.

Freight Bill: At the time of payment of transportation charges, your mover must give you a freight bill identifying the service provided and the charge for each service.

Weight Tickets: If your shipment is moving under a non-binding estimate, your mover must obtain weight tickets that are obtained and signed by the weigh master. The weight tickets must be presented with the freight bill. You have the right to be present each time your shipment is weighed. You also have the right to request a reweigh at no charge.

Do not sign blank or incomplete documents. Verify the document is complete before you sign. The only information that might not appear in your moving paperwork is: the actual weight of your shipment, in the case of a non-binding estimate, and unforeseen charges that occur in transit. 

When do I pay?

When your shipment is delivered, you will be expected to pay either 100% of the charges on your binding estimate or no more than 110% of the charges on your non-binding estimate, as well as charges for any additional services requested. It’s important to verify in advance what types of payment are acceptable when your shipment is delivered. Know that a mover should never ask for a deposit or payment before your household goods are delivered.

What happens if I have a dispute with the mover?

In the event of a claim, you have the right to request arbitration if you are unable to reach a settlement with your mover. All movers are required to participate in an arbitration program and your mover is required to provide you with a summary of its arbitration program before you sign an order for service.

That was a lot of information all at once! But it’s so important to know what your moving rights and responsibilities are, so that you’re prepared for the moving process. If any of the information provided raises more questions or concerns, be sure to contact us and we’ll walk you through what to expect.

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