What is a binding estimate and why does it matter?

Have you ever wanted to know about moving costs before the move? There is a way you can get this information. Ask your movers for a binding estimate of your relocation price and you’ll get a good idea of how much funds you’ll need to prepare for your move. Getting a moving estimate is easy! Most moving companies offer estimates for free, and you should definitely take them up on that offer. Knowing how much your move will cost can help you have a better relocation. It also means less stress over the finances before your moving day. Asking your movers for an estimate is also one of the best long-distance moving tips. If you’re moving far away, your move can cost a lot. Hearing the estimates of your costs will help you decide which moving company and which services you’ll hire.

What is a moving estimate?

A moving estimate is a moving company’s assessment of your potential moving costs. There are many ways you can get an estimate of your costs. Depending on the way you get your estimate you’ll have a better idea about your relocation price. Getting your cost assessment online can be quick and easy but the actual estimate of the prices might be off. The same goes for getting your estimate over the phone. It’s hard for your movers to know exactly where everything is, how much time it will take and how much it will cost. So, the best way to get a reliable estimate is to invite the movers over. They’ll come to your place, check everything out and then give you the most reliable assessment of the moving costs. And only in this case can you get a chance to really negotiate with your movers about the moving price.

A person signing their moving contract.
An estimate that’s binding will appear in your contract with the moving company.

Types of estimates

You can get various degrees of accuracy on your moving estimate.

  • rough estimate – the most basic kind of assessment. For the movers to get this number they’ll need only your starting location and the location of your new home. You can also include the approximate weight of your belongings if you want to get a more reliable appraisal of your potential costs.
  • non-binding estimate – this estimate is a bit more accurate than the rough one. However, the fact that it’s non-binding means that it’s just for reference. Your moving company can increase it or decrease it as they need it.
  • binding estimate – this is the most serious assessment of your costs. It means that your moving costs won’t change if the weight of your items is higher or lower than the moving company estimated. What this means for you is that you’ll get the final price for your move which won’t change. Since this is such an important task for the company, they may charge you extra for it.

Why should you get a binding estimate of your moving costs?

You’re probably wondering: “If this service costs extra, why do I need to get it?”. And, in a certain way, you’d be right. You can always wait and see how much your movers will charge you once the relocation is finished. However, there are certain advantages to getting to know your moving costs early. In addition to this, sometimes you can learn a lot about your movers just by asking for an estimate.

Plan better

First of all, if you have a binding estimate, you’ll have a better chance to prepare your moving budget. Knowing in advance how much money you’ll need to spend is very good when you’re planning your moving expenses. So, once you have enough money to cover your moving expenses, you won’t need to save anymore. You could put those funds to better use. You could plan to furnish your new home, invest in your car or even go on holiday. All in all, when you know your expenses in advance, it’s easy to plan your move accordingly.

Someone writing their own plan.
You’ll get a chance to plan better when you ask for a binding assessment.

Find the best moving company

Next, asking for an estimate can reveal a lot of information about your moving company. Some of them will offer you insane prices, while others will give you prices so low you won’t believe it. Try to find the balance if you want to find a moving company perfectly suited to your needs. In addition to this, you’ll get a chance to negotiate with your movers. Then, you’ll be able to choose the best possible solution for you.

Rules for getting the binding estimate

Follow the rules so you can know how to avoid moving scams. 

Rule No. 1 – your moving company must describe your shipment in detail, state the condition of your items, and any moving services provided. This way, movers cannot ask for additional fees if they are not described. In addition to this, both you and movers should sign this paper. Upon the delivery, check your items and sign again if your items are in perfect shape. 

Rule No. 2 – a moving company must provide a binding estimate in writing prior to moving. 

Rule No. 3 – your moving company must attach your binding estimate to your bill of landing.  

Rule No. 4 – you need to be honest with your movers. You cannot add additional items without notifying your movers. Additionally, if your movers notice items that are not included in the estimate, they can refuse to move your things. 

Red flags

Finally, asking for an estimate can warn you of shady activities on your movers part. Asking for a binding estimate is one of the best ways to discover fraudulent movers. Since this assessment is contractual, your moving company will have to provide a lot of paperwork to back it up. Also, you’ll get a chance to hear their proposed price. This number should be neither too high or too low. Scamming moving companies tend to avoid estimating your moving price for real. They’ll either offer to give you a verbal assessment (because it’s cheaper) or they’ll give you a very low written one (to reel you in). So, if you see feel something’s fishy with your moving estimate, ask your movers about their USDOT number. Every legal moving company should have one, and you can check if it’s valid on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.

A scam you can end if you ask for a binding estimate.
Use your binding estimate to reveal fraudulent movers.

Moving insurance

You can always protect your items with the best moving insurance. 

Full Replacement Value Protection – movers will offer full replacement value protection but it is not free. However, it is the best solution if you are moving valuable items. The coverage cannot be less than $6 per pound. Therefore, if movers lost or damage your items while they are in movers’ custody, movers have three options. First, they can replace your items with their equivalent. Second, they can pay for repairs. Third, they can pay you the cost of the damaged item.   

Released Value Protection – it is free protection, but it covers no more than 60 cents per pound. This coverage is not for valuable items.  

Third-Party Cargo Liability – movers must offer the two types of liability coverage to you. However, you can purchase moving insurance from a different company if you feel these two are not good enough. 

The alternatives to the binding estimate 

If you do not want to get a binding estimate, there a few alternatives. The first one is a non-binding moving estimate. A non-binding moving estimate gives you a general idea about the final costs. You can end up paying less than the first estimate. In addition to this, there is a rule that prohibits interstate movers to ask more than 110% of the price. Next, you can get a not-to-exceed moving estimate where you can negotiate your price. If the weight is more than originally estimated, you will pay the agreed cost. However, if the weight is lower, you will get some money back. This is the biggest advantage of this estimate. You will never pay than agreed but you can pay less, unlike with the binding estimate where you can pay more than necessary. 

Should you get a binding estimate or not?

All in all, a binding estimate offers a lot of advantages when you’re moving. This is especially good if you’re moving over long distances. With this type of relocation, unforeseen expenses tend to pile up. So, it’s better to get an estimate that’s binding than to risk paying a lot more money in the end. In addition to this, make sure to get moving insurance since you should keep your items safe. Lastly, you can check if a moving company is reliable or not by asking for a binding estimate. If movers refuse to offer a binding estimate, it is safe to assume they are not the most reliable movers out there. Therefore, find a professional moving company that is willing to offer any type of moving estimate.

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