The two most important things to understand for your interstate move are: the types of estimates offered and the mover’s liability in the event of loss or damage. As you read further, you will discover that movers offer different types of estimates – binding and non-binding. The type of estimate you select determines how the charges for your shipment will be calculated. The estimate provided by your mover will notify you of the two liability coverage options:
Option 1 – Full (Replacement) Value Protection and Option 2 – Waiver of Full (Replacement) Value Protection (60 cents per pound).
FMCSA requires your mover to provide written estimates on every shipment transported for you. Your mover’s verbal quote of charges is not an official estimate since it is not in writing. Your mover must provide you with a written estimate of all charges including transportation, accessorial and advanced charges (defined at the end of this booklet). This written estimate must be dated and signed by you and the mover.
The estimate provided to you by your mover will include a statement notifying you of two options of liability coverage for your shipment: Full (Replacement) Value Protection and Waiver of Full (Replacement) Value Protection, Released Value of 60 cents per pound per article.
If you are moving from a location within a 50 mile radius of your mover’s (or its agent’s or broker’s) place of business, the estimate must be based on a physical survey of your household goods, unless you waive this requirement in writing before your shipment is loaded.
Please be aware that a household goods broker may only provide an estimate on a mover’s behalf if it has a written agreement with the mover and uses the mover’s published tariff.
You and your mover may agree to change an estimate of charges based on changed circumstances, but only before your shipment is loaded. Your mover may not change an estimate after loading the shipment.
Never sign a blank or incomplete estimate. Movers may not require you to sign blank or incomplete estimates. Unscrupulous movers could use the blank or incomplete estimate to change the terms of your move, including the cost, without your knowledge or consent.
A binding estimate guarantees that you cannot be required to pay more than the amount on the estimate. However, if you add additional items to your shipment or request 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.
If the mover does not give you a new binding estimate in writing, or agree in writing to convert the binding estimate to a non-binding estimate before your goods are loaded, the original binding estimate is reaffirmed. Under these circumstances, your mover should not charge or collect more than the amount of the original binding estimate at delivery for the quantities and services included in the estimate.
If there are unforeseen circumstances (such as elevators, stairs, or required parking permits) at the destination the mover can bill you for these additional expenses after 30 days from delivery. Charges for services required as a result of impracticable operations (defined at the end of this booklet) are due at delivery, but may not exceed 15 percent of all other charges due at delivery; any remaining charges will be billed to you with payment due in 30 days.
If you are unable to pay 100 percent of the charges on a binding estimate, your mover may place your shipment in storage at your expense until the required charges (including the cost of the storage) are paid. Your mover may charge a fee to prepare a binding estimate.
A non-binding estimate is intended to provide you with an estimate of the cost of your move. A non-binding estimate is not a guarantee of your final costs, but it should be reasonably accurate. The estimate must indicate that your final charges will be based upon the actual weight of your shipment, the services provided, and the mover’s published tariff. Therefore, the amount of your mover’s non-binding estimate may be different than the amount you ultimately have to pay.
A non-binding estimate must be in writing and clearly describe the shipment and all services provided. Under a non-binding estimate, the mover cannot require you to pay more than 110 percent of the original estimate at the time of delivery. This does not excuse you from paying all of the charges due on your shipment. The mover will bill you for any remaining charges after 30 days from delivery.
Your mover must give you possession of your shipment if you pay 110 percent of a non-binding estimate or 100 percent of a binding estimate, plus 15 percent of the impracticable operations charges (if applicable). If your mover does not relinquish possession, the mover is holding your shipment hostage in violation of Federal law.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Consumer Rights and Responsibilities Handbook