FAQs: Understanding The Moving Process

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When is the best time to move?
The busiest times for moving companies are during the summer months, May 15 - September 15. At the end of these months, the volume of shipments is extremely heavy. This is the case for all professional relocation and moving companies.
How do I select which moving companies will provide me with a free moving estimate?

Figure out if you require a full service moving company. Research local and long distance moving companies. Ask your friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members if they can recommend a company. Investigate each of the movers you choose with the Better Business Bureau. Good service is the best measure of a good mover.

When should I begin contacting moving companies for free moving estimates?
Do your best to provide moving companies with as much notice as possible, especially if you are moving during the busy season as noted above. Six weeks from the actual move date is not too early for estimators to visit your home to complete what is referred to as a "visual survey of your household goods shipment." Add even more time to make a decision if you are obligated by your employer to submit moving estimate for a corporate relocation. Try to figure out what move you will use four weeks from your load day. Call the mover to confirm your booking and schedule your packing, loading and delivery dates. This timeframe can be shortened in the off peak season which is September 15 through May 15.

What happens when a relocation specialist comes to my home?
The relocation specialist will arrive at your home to complete a visual survey of your items. Once this is done, the relocation specialist will calculate the weight, packing cost and any other charge related to your move. Remember that the relocation specialist must clearly see what you are moving in order to provide an accurate estimate. Crawl spaces, attics and cluttered closets can be deceiving, so organize your house before the relocation specialist arrives.

No need to be alarmed if the relocation specialist goes through all your cabinets and closets or looks under beds and on top of cabinets. They must be able to see what is moving and possibly needs packing. If you know of items that are out of view, be certain to point them out to the specialist.

One word of caution that can save you a lot of trouble on loading day. Get rid of all items you do not plan on moving. Otherwise, there may not be enough space for your shipment. This will not occur on one or two small items, but if you anticipating eliminating an entire bedroom suite and do not do so, it is possible that this could violate the integrity or your estimate and cause the driver to run out of space.

Pricing and Paperwork

What is an estimate?
An estimate is a contract which specifies, in advance, the estimated cost of moving based on the services requested or deemed necessary at the time of the estimate. If additional moving services are requested or required at either origin or destination, the total cost will increase.

In order to verify the weight of your shipment, the driver will weigh his trailer prior to loading your shipment. Once your shipment is on board, the driver will weigh his trailer once more. All other moving charges will be calculated at your origin address. If there are any additional charges that are incurred during the delivery process, the driver will provide you with the additional cost. This event is rare, but may occur.

How is the cost of my shipment calculated?
The charges are based on the weight of your shipment and mileage. These are referred to as the transportation charges. There are different moving charges that could appear on your estimate, so make sure you ask your relocation specialist to explain each charge for you. Some of the additional charges that may appear include packing, crating, valuation or coverage, bulky article charge for oversized items and extra labour. Make sure you understand these charges so that you can accurately compare the estimates you receive.

How should I pay and what are the payment methods?
Due to tariff provisions, all moving charges must be paid before your shipment is unloaded at its destination. Payments can be made using cash, certified cheque or money order. Other payment options such as credit card may be arranged with your professional moving service provider. Discuss these options with the relocation specialists and/or the customer-service representative assigned to your shipment. If your employer is paying for the move, they may pre-arrange to be billed via invoice. Be sure to have this all worked out prior to packing and loading. If the method of payment is not established prior to load day, it can cause problems on delivery day.

What is a Bill of Lading?
Every mover is required to prepare a bill of lading for every shipment transported. The bill of lading is the receipt for your goods and the contract with your mover for their transportation. The driver who loads your shipment must give you a copy of the bill of lading.

It is your duty to read and understand the information on the bill of lading before you sign it. The bill of lading identifies the mover and specifies when the transportation is to be performed. It also specifies the terms and conditions for payment of the total moving charges and the maximum amount necessary to be paid at the time of delivery. Information regarding the valuation of your shipment and the amount the mover will be liable for in the event of loss or damage is also shown.

What is an inventory?
The driver will inventory your shipment as they load it (but it's not required by law). When finished, the inventory provides a detailed, descriptive listing of your household goods and the condition of each item when received by the mover.

Be sure that every item listed on the inventory is correct. This is not always the easiest task, as you will find things written on the inventory such as PBO, which means packed by owner. The contents of this carton cannot and will not be listed because the driver is not able to see inside each and every box. You will also find CP on a line item in the inventory. This means Carrier Packed container. These listing are very important. You will also notice that in the middle column of the inventory form there is a line that has many letter and numbers associated with a specific item but it does not make sense to you. This is where the driver uses inventory code to make note of the condition of that particular piece. To understand this code, look at the top of the inventory sheet for a legend that explains what that code means. For instance, SC - scratched; C - chipped; 3 - right side of piece; 8 - top of the piece. This is a way for the driver to make note of any irregularity or existing damage.

Remember, this inventory is for you to keep track of what is loaded and the condition of each item. If damage occurs on a particular piece during the loading process, get the inventory tag number on that item and make a note in the far right hand column on the line that corresponds with that piece. This document will be scrutinized when the claims process is initiated so it is important to have the damage clearly noted.

This inventory should also be used at destination when your shipment is delivered. Use the inventory to verify the articles which are delivered and again note an exception to the condition of the items as they are brought into your home. Point out any damage to the driver.

What frequently occurs is that a piece of furniture has been in your home for many years and you grow accustomed to viewing it in a certain place and in a certain light. Upon bringing the item into your new home, you may notice damage that may have been there for a long time. The driver will have noted the scratch or chip at your origin residence. If you are unsure of if it was existing or new damage, ask your driver to explain the condition of the piece as he noted on the inventory during the loading process. This is the fastest way to clear up what is new damage and what was there all along.

Our drivers are very careful about how they handle your items and the inventory is their safeguard against felonious-damage claims. Use this inventory as a positive tool to ensure that you are protected just as the driver will use it to protect themselves.


Can I pack anything in the drawers of my dresser or desk?
All loose items must be packed in boxes to prevent loss or damage while moving. It is recommended that you pack all items and leave the drawers empty.

Will the driver load all the boxes that I packed?
Yes, as long as the driver deems them safe for transportation.

How should I pack my waterbed?
Waterbeds need to be drained completely. Fiber-filled waterbeds need to be professionally vacuum-drained before your moving date.

Can I pack and move my plants?
Lots of moving companies will not take your plants. The stress and heat of being inside a moving trailer usually causes them to die. Many provinces and states do not allow the entry of plants while other provinces and states will admit plants under certain conditions. Be sure to understand any regulations prior to moving the plants in your own vehicle.
What should I do with my jewelry and other valuable items?

Valuable items such as jewelry, money, antiques and stamp collections can be included in your shipment, provided that you notify your local moving representative of these items before packing and moving day. It is strongly recommended that you carry irreplaceable and expensive articles with you or make other arrangements for their transport.

In the moving industry, items worth more than $100 per pound are considered to be articles of "extraordinary" value. To be assured that a claim involving these articles is not limited to minimal liability, complete and sing your mover's version of a high-value inventory form.

Each mover has a slightly different procedure to follow as it relates to expensive items. Ask your relocation specialist to provide you with an explanation of the company's procedures. This is a confusing but important task, so make sure that you understand the rules prior to load day.

How do I prepare my appliances for moving?
Appliances such as washers, dryers and refrigerators must be disconnected, and the washer must have a stabilizer installed. Again, your estimator can help you figure out how these items are serviced. All local moving companies have business relationships with local service providers that handle this type of service. Full service moving companies and national moving companies will also be able to provide all of the moving services you need. Be sure you understand who your mover will be using as you will need to let these people into your home to provide the service.

How will you protect upholstered furniture?
We use a special material called stretch-wrap. It is a clear, heavy plastic wrap which protects your furniture from being soiled.

Valuation of Coverage

Am I protected against loss or damage while my goods are in transit?
Yes, but how much protection you have and its costs you depend upon the valuation coverage you selected. This can be one of the most confusing aspects to moving but it is important that you understand what is being provided to you.

The valuation option you go with determines the basis upon which any claim will be adjusted and the maximum liability of the carrier. The liability of a carrier for loss or damage is based upon the carrier's tariffs, as well as federal laws and regulations that have certain limitations and exclusions. Valuation is not insurance. This is important to understand. It is the liability of the moving company. Check with the provider of your homeowner's insurance to figure out if you are covered for moving. Often you will find that you are not.

Released Value - This is the most economical as there is no additional cost. However, this option providers only minimal protection and is not sufficient coverage for most shipments. It will pay you $.60 per pound per article if lost or damaged while moving. This means that a piece of furniture weighing 75 lb would receive a settlement of $45. You will be asked to initial the bill of lading if you choose this coverage. The only place this is applicable is if your insurance policy covers your goods for their entire value and this would be considered supplemental coverage for your relocation.

Replacement Cost Protection - This is your most comprehensive coverage. You may have heard it referred to as "full replacement value" as well as "full value protection" by other van lines. If you choose to purchase Replacement Cost Protection, articles which are lost, damaged or destroyed will be either repaired with like items, or a cash settlement will be made for the current market replacement value, regardless of the age of the lost or damaged item. Depreciation of the lost or damaged item is not a factor in determining replacement value when the shipment is moved under Replacement Cost Protection.

The Move

How do I prepare my home and myself for move day?
The customer-service representative and/or driver will contact you at least 24 hours prior to load day to let you know the time of arrival. Make sure you let them know of any changes that has taken place and could affect loading day. A good example of changes that could take place is that the street in front of your residence is now under construction, preventing the large over-the-road truck to get near your home. Perhaps you have not completed packing due to an unanticipated event. Get in touch with your mover as soon as possible so that they can send out professional packers to complete the job for you.

Make sure your home is prepared for the crew. Move anything off the porch and walkways which may obstruct movement of your goods out of the home. Take doors off the hinges if you know that certain items will not fit through. Remove all small throw rugs from traffic areas that could cause the driver or crew to trip or slip.

Have water, Gatorade or soda on hand for the driver and crew, especially on a hot summer day. Our movers will come prepared but will be grateful for your thoughtfulness.

Our drivers will prepare the home with runners, door jam protectors and railing protectors if applicable. This will help save on the little knocks that occur during the loading process.

How will I know where my shipment is once it leaves my home?
The North American Van Lines' tracking capabilities will allow you to trace the whereabouts of your shipment and driver, often over the internet. Please ask your relocation specialist for details on shipment tracking.

How will I know when my shipment is going to be delivered?
Your driver will get in touch with you 24 hours before delivery. The moving company will assign a customer-service representative as your primary contact and will be able to track your shipment and provide you with an update as to when your goods will arrive.

Be certain to provide the driver with all of your contact information. The phone number at your new residence is only good if there is someone there to take a call. If you can be reached at work, a hotel, a temporary residence or by email, let the driver know. If it will be impossible to reach you, make arrangements with a friend or family member to serve as the liaison between you and the driver and provide the driver with the contact information.


How do I file and receive my settlement on my claim?
Claims are never fun as no one want to deal with the problem, but damage sometimes occurs when moving and claims are a result. The best advice is to understand the claims-settlement procedure prior to moving. It is important that you understand your coverage and how to proceed through the claims process.

Claims adjusters are people with a difficult job. It is better to approach them with kindness than anger. Understand your moving coverage and be certain to have the proper documentation in the form of an inventory with the damage noted.