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Understanding the Different Types of Moving Estimates

Published on 2022-07-19

Understanding the different types of moving estimates

In the United States, it is not uncommon for people to move. Instead, it is a rather typical occurrence, with millions of Americans relocating every year. Starting the moving process without a thorough understanding of the various kinds of moving estimates is not the best situation. This is especially true if you intend to hire professional movers.

Of course, there are numerous reasons why someone would relocate. You might relocate for better pay, college, health concerns, or a safer environment where you can raise your children. Whatever the case may be, one truth remains. While moving is still common, it is neither straightforward nor cheap. Moving costs a lot of money. As a result, figuring out how to balance the moving budget requires a great deal of expertise.

As soon as you begin looking for your ideal moving crew, terms like “non-binding estimate,” “binding estimate,” and “binding not-to-exceed estimate” will become part of your everyday lexicon. As a result, it’s in your best interest to learn what they signify as soon as possible, as they’re linked to your finances. In this article, Three Mover will gladly introduce you to these vital terms. 

What is a Moving Estimate?

A moving estimate is a number provided by your preferred moving company that represents the cost of your relocation. It may be definitive or subject to change, depending on the type of estimate. After giving basic information, such as the items you’re moving, if you need the items packed, and where your belongings are going, you’ll normally receive a moving estimate. 

Some moving companies provide estimates over the phone, while others allow you to request an estimate via the internet. Nevertheless, an in-person consultation is usually required for the most accurate moving company estimate. However, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, some companies have curtailed in-person moving company estimates. 

One thing remains constant regardless of how the moving quote is delivered: going through a moving company estimate can feel like deciphering a treasure map

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Knowing some of the often used moving company estimate words and acronyms may help you negotiate more effectively.

Moving company's services

Type of Moving Estimate

Similar to how a moving company’s services are based on the size of the organization, there are various types of moving estimates. However, there are three in particular that you should be aware of.

Binding Estimate

When the moving company provides a fixed cost estimate based on the approximate weight of the customer’s items, this is known as a binding estimate. If the customer accepts a binding estimate, they will pay the exact amount that was quoted. The mover will not be permitted to raise the fee in any way. Accepting a binding estimate, however, does not imply that the customer will pay any less. Even if their belongings weigh less than the initial estimate, they will be required to pay the fixed fee. 

A binding estimate has several advantages, even if it isn’t the best option. For one thing, you won’t have to worry about a mover overcharging you at the last minute. 

Another benefit of going with a binding estimate is that you won’t have to worry about paying a large amount when your items surpass the specified weight. Many people who are relocating value this sense of peace.

However, you’re mistaken if you believe that this type of estimate will allow you to smuggle extra stuff aboard the truck on moving day. Adding items to your cargo, according to the FMCSA, requires you and your mover to either agree to abide by the original binding estimate, convert the binding estimate to a non-binding estimate, or negotiate a new binding estimate.

Possessions exceeds the expectations

Non-Binding Estimate

A non-binding moving estimate is based on the weight of the customer’s possessions. The estimate isn’t fixed in stone because of the “non-binding” clause. That is to say, it will most likely fluctuate based on the actual weight of the operation. Saying “yes” to a non-binding estimate, on the other hand, could lead to you paying more than you bargained for. That’s because if a moving company gives you a low-ball, non-binding estimate and your final cost turn out to be higher, you’ll have to pay the initial estimate plus an extra 10% at the time of delivery. This will happen if the weight of your possessions exceeds the expectations. 

However, there is a silver lining. Customers will still be responsible for any charges owed on the overall shipment, according to the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). After 30 days following delivery, the mover might bill you for the remaining amounts. In other words, you’ll have a month to pay the difference. 

Bottom line: Be mindful of the non-binding estimate if you want to hire a moving company. These quotes are particularly popular among rouge movers and con artists. They can use them to entice you with an almost too-good-to-be-true non-binding estimate. However, you can expect to pay a higher fee after the job than you did at the beginning. As a result, make sure you conduct thorough research on movers ahead of time and pay heed to any red flags. 

Customers moving interstate

Binding Not-To-Exceed Estimate

Customers moving interstate or long distances prefer the binding not-to-exceed estimate above the other types of estimates. It’s also the most straightforward to explain. 

With not-to-exceed estimates, you may avoid paying more than the price you were quoted at the start. You will not be charged any additional fees if your shipment exceeds the original estimate. You’d rather pay exactly what you were quoted in the first place. If, however, the package weighs less than you expected, you will only be responsible for the cost of shipping the actual weight. It’s extremely cool!

Moving Estimate Terms to Know

Before you sign on the dotted line, familiarize yourself with some of the phrases used in moving estimates. Who knows? They might come in handy when it comes to comparing moving company quotes. 

  1. Bill of Lading

The bill of lading (sometimes called the BOL) is the most significant document you’ll receive because it is the official contract between you and the movers. Before signing it, double-check that the moving contents are specified correctly, as well as the pickup and delivery addresses. Keep a copy of your BOL in a secure place in case anything goes wrong.

Mover's quote contract
  1. Carrier Packed

You may notice “CP” on your mover’s quote contract if you have them undertake some of your packing. The meaning of this abbreviation is “Carrier Packed”. It shows the number of boxes your movers packed for you.

There will be an additional charge for this service, as expected. If you combine self-packing and movers packing services during your relocation, keep track of how many boxes are labeled “CP” on your quote and final invoice to avoid overpaying.

  1. Flight Charge

This term does not apply to the expense of shipping your belongings by air; rather, it refers to the number of flights of steps your movers must navigate when hauling your furniture and boxes. If you’re relocating from a bottom-floor apartment to a single-story home, ensure this figure is zero on your estimate.

  1. COD

You’ll have to pay for the shipment when it arrives at your new house, which is known as “cash on delivery.” Inquire about payment options, such as credit card, check, or cash, with the moving company ahead of time. If you paid cash for the shipping, make sure you get a signed receipt for the amount you paid.

Inventory is a catalog of all of your personal belongings
  1. Inventory

The inventory is a catalog of all of your personal belongings. It’s long and detailed, with quantities listed and descriptions of each item’s condition. It’s all too simple to overlook the inventory, yet doing so could end up costing you money. If something is missing or broken when it arrives, check your inventory list to be sure it was included in the shipment and wasn’t already listed as damaged.

  1. Standard Coverage

All moving quotes must include a free minimum amount of insurance for your belongings. It’s not a lot — if your items are damaged, you’ll be compensated based on the item’s weight. In most cases, standard coverage is limited to 60 cents per pound of damaged items.

Consider this: your PC might be a few pounds in weight. If it is lost or destroyed during the move, you will be compensated with just $1.20. As a result, you might want to think about getting extra insurance to cover the expense of higher-value things. The cost of replacing any lost or damaged products will be covered by full value protection.

  1. Valuation

Moving coverage and valuation are inextricably linked. It’s the value your belongings are estimated to be worth, as well as the maximum amount the mover will accept liability for, based on their weight. As previously suggested, consider getting additional coverage to protect yourself if the mover misplaces or destroys your belongings.

Completing your relocation

Ready to Move?

You’ve found your ideal home and sold your previous one; now it’s time to relocate. Do not entrust your impending move to just any mover. Our 20+ years of experience demonstrates that we can assist you in completing your relocation.

Written by Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend is a moving professional and relocation expert that has more than 10 years of experience in the moving industry. With a background that includes working in virtually every aspect of the company, he has distinguished himself as an integral part of our operations with expertise in all things related to moving.

If you have any questions about moving, our services, or anything else you think he may be able to help with, you can contact Chris by emailing him at Chris@threemovers.com

Customer Reviews

I just wanted to say thank you so much for the great help with our move. We have so much stuff and I was really worried about being able to take the time off work to pack and get everything moved and unpacked. Three Movers saved the day! Your men showed up and had our house and garage packed fast and even put everything in the precise room at the new house. You saved me a great deal of time and saved my family a lot of money! Thanks so much!

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