The Language of Interstate Moving

If you’re considering an interstate move, there are several terms that may come up in your search for an interstate mover.  Knowing the language of the trade can save you time and money, and provide a full understanding of exactly what you can expect when you deal with an interstate carrier.   Here are a few trade terms that can help you with your search.

  1.  Shipper – contrary to how it sounds, YOU as a client are considered the shipper in moving, both local and interstate.  The interstate moving company is the carrier.
  1.  Bill of Lading – this is a binding legal receipt that lists the belongings that you’re moving as well as the contract for the move itself.  You will be asked to sign off on this before the carrier drives off with your goods.  Upon delivery, you’ll be asked to sign that you have received the goods as designated on the bill of lading.
  1.  Binding, Non-Binding, and Not-To-Exceed Estimates – these are somewhat self-explanatory, but a binding estimate generally indicates that the shipper pays what is quoted by the carrier and a non-binding estimate means that the shipper will be charged based on the actual weight and distance of the move, interstate tariffs,  and any other accessorial charges, such as shuttle trucks, parking permits, long carries to the truck and several others. A Not-to-Exceed estimate means that your move cost cannot exceed the amount on the contract.  Take heed on the latter, however: if your move was well underestimated and you have signed off on that but your actual shipment is a lot heavier, is incorrectly calculated for distance, or does not include necessary accessorial charges, your goods may be refused by the driver.  Make sure the carrier representative explains all of these in advance of the move, so that you won’t be shocked at the final charges or other unexpected developments..  
  1. Moving Broker vs Moving Company –  navigating online information on movers in your area can be confusing, as moving companies want to be at the top of the search.  You may click on a link thinking it’s a moving company you’re talking to, but in fact it could be a broker, a company that hires the mover for you and requires a fee to do so.  While a legitimate service, to avoid that extra cost ask the person you are dealing with if they are a moving broker. Brokers require an up front fee and interstate movers do not.  You may want to go right to the source to save yourself time and money.
  1.  Valuation coverage – while moving companies technically can’t call this insurance, it acts in much the same way as insurance coverage while your goods are in possession of the carrier.   Ask the carrier to explain the difference between full valuation and free coverage.  See our blog post from 2019 on The Hidden Costs of Moving, Part 1 for more information on valuation coverage.
  1.  Virtual vs. in-home estimates – global pandemic notwithstanding, some moving companies provide virtual (online) estimates of your household goods in order to provide an estimate.  If you have an internet-connected smartphone or tablet, this can be an alternative to someone walking around your home but can be limited if your device isn’t able to record what’s in the dark recesses of an attic or basement.  An in-home estimate provides the estimator a better first-hand look of everything you’re moving, which could result in a more accurate estimate.