Here you will find questions and responses about a broad range of household goods moving topics.
Q.What paperwork can I expect to receive when my mover arrives to pick up my goods? What if he doesn’t provide me with anything?
A. Never allow a mover to begin work without paperwork!
The importance of the Bill of Lading or Work Order
When you move with a professional moving company, you will receive a copy of the moving company’s Bill of Lading or Work Order which details your name, your address and likely phone number, the date of the service, details of the work done, as well as the name, address and phone number of the company that is doing the work as well as their order number. Other information that usually is on the form is listed below under Long Distance Move and Local Move.
Ask to see the work order/bill of lading before the work even begins. If they don’t have any paperwork, make them wait and contact their office to speak to the boss and find out why there isn’t any. If there isn’t paperwork produced shortly after that phone call – cancel the move. Don’t risk having this “company” load up everything you own into a truck and disappear, with no proof of who took it. You won’t get much sympathy from the police when you call in for theft.
Long Distance Move
If you are moving to a different city, generally the Bill of Lading will include specific information about your move including the estimated weight of your shipment, the anticipated delivery date spread, as well as the contact information for the moving companies that will be involved in the servicing of your move. Finally, you should see estimated charges (based on your quote) on your bill of lading and the option to choose the level of replacement value protection you want for your relocation. You will also receive a copy of the detailed inventory and tag numbers that the driver and crew have created. This is another very important document that details each of your items and the condition they were in when the moving company picked them up. The driver will ask you to check off appropriate boxes and sign and date the documents before he leaves.
Similar to the long distance move paperwork, all your contact information and the moving company’s should be on the work order that you receive. As you are moving in one day, normally at an hourly rate, all of your moving charges must be written on the work order, with the agreed upon rate already written on the form when the crew arrives. In most cases, this document will also be your invoice to pay at the end of the move. Once the move is complete, the final charges will be calculated and written down - information should include the number of hours it took to complete the job, any replacement value protection you may have purchased from the mover, as well as any other charges (packing, appliance hook up charges, for example). If the information is incomplete – make sure the moving company fills in it. The work order is also a great spot to write in any damages that may occur to your furniture or property, so that they are recorded at the time of the move.
Regardless of how you move, make sure you hang on to any documents the moving company gives you. You need these in case there are any issues post move, and also for income tax purposes.
Q. What is an origin surcharge?
A. Surcharges vary by specific origin and destination and are intended to cover unique variable costs inherent in the designated area. For instance, large metropolitan areas have surcharges recognizing local licences, delays routinely caused by traffic, reduced access routes, etc. Fuel surcharges, for instance, vary on a month-to-month basis based on national/local fuel costs as published by agencies, such as the Federal Government. They vary by van line/carrier but are published in their individual tariffs.
Q. We are considering several movers for an upcoming move and they include a "Fuel Surcharge" in their quotes. What is this cost for?
A. The price of fuel can substantially change the cost of moving goods, therefore most movers monitor the average retail prices for diesel on a weekly basis. Transportation companies will often include a Fuel Surcharge (FSC) to the cost of moving goods that is either based on cents per mile or as a percentage of the line haul amount, rather than having to constantly change the base tariff for household moving. Fuel of course, is a significant cost factor in the transportation service. The trucks that movers use are large and, as a result, consume large quantities of fuel. Fuel costs are very volatile so most movers regularly review a publically-available national average fuel price, such as the Average Retail Prices for Diesel published by the Federal Government. The volatility of fuel prices is very apparent on cross-border moves to and from the US as well. For example, fuel was $2.02 per gallon ($3.02 per litre) in March 2016 and $4.13 per gallon ($6.18 per litre) in March 2013 – just three years earlier. The amount of the FSC depends on the price program being followed by each mover. Some tariffs, for example, assume a basic fuel price of $0.70 per litre. Below that threshold, no fuel surcharge would apply. Some movers build in a rate per hundredweight per mile; others build in a percentage of line haul cost. Often a low amount is rolled into the tariff to begin with – so the mover doesn’t overcharge clients when fuel price drops to unusually low levels. When fuel prices exceed the basic level built into the base rate, the FSC formula would apply.
Q. Is it standard practice for a mover to charge in advance for a move?
A. Most credible movers will not charge up front for a planned move. Some will charge a deposit to hold the moving date. However the industry standard is to require payment on delivery (just before the goods are moved into the new home).
Q. Is it standard practice for a mover to ask a customer to provide a copy of their driver's license?
A. It’s not a regular practice to have to provide a driver's license, but it might be the practice of that particular company to have some kind of identification as proof to back up the credit card. But this would be the practice of that company alone. If a customer feels uneasy about this request, they make might look around for another mover.
Q. We are moving 1,700 lbs about 1,000 km. Should we expect to pay a small shipment charge?
A. It is not uncommon for a small shipment charge to be on a shipment under 2,500 pounds. Basically it’s a charge that’s added for shipments where it’s not economically feasible for the driver to bring the big truck and park it in front of the house/apartment to pick up the load. But the small shipment charge should be disclosed on the quote/estimate.
Q. How does the mover know what my shipment weighs?
A. Check out the following information about weigh scales.
Q. Why is there a delivery window for my goods to arrive at my new home? NEW
A. A TTG (transit time guide) or “delivery spread” is established by a mover to provide a minimum and maximum window of days in which the mover commits to delivering your shipment safely to your new home. They take into account, the size of your shipment, the number of miles the move is, driver daily work hour limits, number of additional shipments and days to deliver those, driver rest time (especially when going cross country) and in the winter, weather delays.
Depending on the circumstances, if the mover delivers after the last date in the TTG, then there are a series of compensations that the moving company would have to consider to fulfill (hotel rooms, food allowances, etc.). As that will cost some money, the mover is going to do their best to get your things to you in the time the number of days that are allotted.
For example, your shipment is being picked up on July 15 in eastern Canada and you are moving to BC. Your TTG could range between July 25 to August 11 – depending on the size of your shipment.
You are obligated to accept delivery on a day within that spread that will be confirmed on moving day (or shortly thereafter). Generally, once your shipment is loaded into the truck and the driver has been able to confirm your shipment size, he can usually give you a rough idea within one or two days of when he thinks he will be delivering your shipment. The moving company is supposed to be in touch with you at least 48 hours out to confirm delivery date and ask for your payment. And it is common practice that the driver connects with you at least 24 hours out to confirm the time that he will be there and any last-minute details that he may need to know. And depending on the driver, they may provide you with their cell phone number so you can text them during the journey to get a more precise delivery date.
There should not be any additional costs for delivery unless a smaller truck (shuttle) is required because a tractor trailer cannot safely access your new home. However, if you cannot accept your shipment on the day that the mover says he is coming, then there will be additional fees that you will be responsible for that could include temporary storage fees. Unfortunately, you can’t pick a day and ask the driver to deliver on that specific date. The final delivery will be based on the circumstances that occurred throughout the move. If you are unable to be available for the delivery date, you may have to have a friend or relative to accept the delivery on your behalf.
TTG during COVID: Your driver is travelling across the country and you are moving during an absolutely unprecedented moving season-one that we’ve never experienced before. There is likely to be delays, especially as there are a number of household shipments on the same truck as yours and the driver will have to make multiple stops in different provinces all with different COVID-19 rules and restrictions. Please make sure that you read the fine print on the qualifications around the TTG because of Covid. For example, if there is a delay of delivery after the last day in the TTG, and the delay is due to longer delivery requirements for shipments due to COVID-19, is that the moving company’s fault or not and will they cover off additional expenses for you?
Q. What are the implications if my mover offers me short term storage on their truck instead of moving it into storage? NEW
A. Although not common practice, in slower months, it is not unheard of to have the shipment stay on the truck if it is only going to be a couple of weeks. Here are some things to consider whether storing in the truck or in a storage facility.
Storage on the truck: It's okay if it’s only for a couple of weeks - it does reduce the amount of handling of your household goods. Because it’s staying on the truck, it’s one less ‘off the truck’ and then back onto the truck. However, it is important to understand how watertight the truck is. Most trucks are. You should also consider temperature and/or extreme humidity or cold. We suggest that you make absolutely sure how the moving company’s yard is set up. Here are a few questions you may want to ask:
- Is the yard fenced and the gate locked each night?
- Do they have security cameras - with live feeds that work - aimed where the truck will be parked?
- How will the truck be parked? For example, will the back door of the moving van/truck be locked and then backed up against a loading dock door that wasn’t being used? Or if that wasn’t possible, will the truck be backed up against a wall or another truck, so no one could get into the back door of the truck and help themselves to the contents?
Storage inside in a warehouse or storage unit: Having your things brought into a dry, climate controlled warehouse would likely be a better option, to take out the weather variable. This way, your things are brought in, still wrapped in blankets and stored until it’s time to get your goods delivered. One thing that you have to assume will happen is that if your new house isn’t ready when you thought it would be, or there are other delays that put pressure on the moving company to get their truck back in use, they are going to have to bring your shipment indoors anyway - as they won’t be able to keep a truck tied up for weeks and weeks.
It is important to understand what your personal home insurance will cover on a move such as this as well as fully understand what valuation protection you have from the moving company.
Q. Can I ask the movers to remove their shoes before entering my home?
A. As respectful as movers try to be to fit all cultures and customs, it is 100% unsafe for the crews to take off their safety shoes to work in a house. There would be worker’s compensations claims abounding as crews slip on floors and lose their grip coming down stairs carrying huge dressers. Professional movers do their best to protect flooring and stairs with ‘runners’. It is also extremely impractical to conduct a move if the crew has to continually stop to remove their foot ware or stop to put them on. Large or heavy items, like mattresses, sofas, fridges, are much better removed in one continual motion instead of having to stop and restart. The front entry may not have a spot big enough to put down a king mattress or a freezer while the guys tie their shoes. Consider how many pieces are being moved, including boxes. Presume that each item is one trip to the truck. Multiply that by 2 - and that’s how many times the crew has to stop to either put on their shoes or take them off. The move would take double to triple time and end up costing a customer likely a minimum of $1,000 in extra in fees.
Q. How do I calculate the value of my household goods?
A. Here are some simple steps:
- Make a list with four columns: items, number, weight and value.
- In column one, write down all your significant pieces of furniture, glassware, appliances, electronics, cameras, wardrobe boxes, etc.
- Beside each item, in column 2, list how many you’re moving.
- In column three, give an approximate weight for each.
- In column four, give each item or box on your list a replacement value. This is the amount it will cost for you to replace the item with another item of comparable material and quality. Remember, the item must be used for the same purpose (and not be an upgraded version). If something does happen and you purchased replacement cost protection, the amount identified to be reimbursed will apply to whichever is less – the cost to repair the damaged item or to replace it.
- Now add up the number of items, the total weight and the total value. Keep this list handy when you're interviewing moving companies. It will help you determine if the moving company is providing enough coverage for your goods.
Make sure you inform the moving company if you are moving high value items such as fine art, valuable instruments, furs or antiques. They will need to apply extra precautions in packing and insuring each item. Take photos or videos of all pieces, especially items of high or sentimental value. This additional information will help you and the mover to keep track of your inventory and will help if you need to make a claim.
Q. How important is it for me to have insurance on my goods while they are in transit?
A. It's extremely important to understand what your liability and your mover's liability is for loss of or damage to your goods while in transit. Watch this short video.
Q. I’m making a long distance move. Will Released Valuation protect my goods for loss or damage while they are in transit?
A. No, not in full. Released Value Protection is the basic coverage that is contained in all contracts for moving of household effects and is included in the cost of your move. Under released valuation, the mover’s liability is limited to $0.60 per pound ($1.32 per kg) per article for household goods under provincial conditions of carriage regulations. This would mean that a table weighing 100 lb. that is being shipped and which is damaged beyond repair would result in a cash settlement of $60 (100 lb. x $0.60 per lb.) even if the actual replacement cost of the table were $1,000. Released valuation limits your claim to a maximum amount which is based on the total weight of your shipment (including the weight of cartons). For example, in the unlikely event of a total loss, let’s say by fire, your maximum protection would be $0.60 per pound multiplied by the weight of your entire shipment If your shipment weighed 5,000 lbs., the maximum settlement would be $3,000 (5,000 lbs. x $0.60 per lb. = $3,000). Released valuation is generally not adequate because it provides only minimal coverage.
Consider these alternatives. You should check with your insurance agent to find out if you have alternate insurance on your household possessions that provides a complete, all risk protection during loading, unloading, transportation and storage. Most homeowner policies do not cover you in this situation. Occasionally, a special rider can be purchased from your insurer but the premium is usually higher than purchasing Replacement Value Protection coverage from the mover. If Released Valuation and your home insurance together are not adequate, then you should purchase the Replacement Value Protection that the mover is offering.
Replacement Value Protection is recommended to ensure your shipment is adequately covered during your move. It simply means that, if a damaged item cannot be repaired to its original condition, it will be replaced at today’s market price. This protection is limited only by the amount of valuation you select so it is important that you establish a realistic replacement value of all of your possessions. The only requirement is that your shipment be protected to a minimum of $10.00 per lb. multiplied by the actual weight of your household goods. For example, if the total weight of your household items is 5,000 lbs., the minimum replacement coverage can’t be less than $50,000 (5,000 lbs. x $10.00 per lb.). Your moving company can provide you with the cost for the Replacement Value Protection as well as information on declaring items of extraordinary value, including antiques and antique cars. A limited protection coverage applies to motor vehicles, trailers, campers, snowmobiles, motorcycles, boats or motors. These items must be shown separately on the Bill of Lading (the legal document that allows the mover to transport your goods). Protection is limited to the current market value of the year, model and condition. If you choose not to purchase (or you waive) Replacement Value Protection that the mover is offering, then Released Valuation is used. It is important that you understand your level of protection and that your bill of lading clearly notes the coverage you selected and is signed properly by all parties involved. A Carrier Liability Certificate should be given to you because it clearly defines the mover’s liability for your shipment. Your mover should explain to you in detail the conditions of the protection and the limitations of the coverage (if they are not, ask the mover for it!). He’ll then likely ask for your written acknowledgement that you understand the coverage. (Sources: Allied Van Lines Canada & Atlas Van Lines (Canada) Ltd.)
Q. Does my own Personal Home Owners policy cover my personal effects while being moved from one home to another?
A. The answer is...sometimes. Generally speaking, your personal property policy will cover your items while in transit to, and at another location in Canada which is occupied by you as your principle dwelling. However, it's very important to keep in mind that the limit of insurance for your personal property will be divided between the existing premises, the belongings that are in transit and at the new location on the basis of the percentage of the total value of the property at each location. Coverage only applies for a limited number of days (e.g. 30 - 90 consecutive days) from the day you begin removing your personal property from your principal dwelling and not beyond the date the policy expires or is terminated. Not all losses will be protected as the policy does limit and/or exclude certain types of losses, i.e. marring, scratching of any property, breakage of any fragile or brittle articles unless caused by an insured peril so it's always best to purchase coverage from your moving company. It's also important to remember that any claims made on your home owners policy will affect future premiums. The claims free discount that is applicable to most policies is between 10-20% of the total policy premium. They will also have a deductible of at least $500 and more likely $1000 today. Home owners are often quite unhappy when they are forced to make a claim on their own policy due to what is often perceived as negligent actions of the mover who is a paid professional. (Courtesy of McLean Hallmark Insurance Group Ltd. now known as NFP Canada)
Q. If our long-distance carrier got involved in an accident on the way and our goods were lost in a fire, would we be entitled to a refund for the shipping charges we (partially) paid for plus whatever insurance settlement for our goods or are we only entitled to the insurance settlement for the lost goods?
A. Shipping charges would not be included in the insurance settlement. If there was a separate charge for Coverage Protection, this amount would have to be paid in full prior to the insurer settling any amount for damages. It is not a legal requirement for the mover to return shipping charges. We believe that different movers handle this in a variety of ways, so it is difficult to give an opinion on which way is best.
Q. I plan to hide some valuables in my dresser drawer when I move. What happens if they go missing? NEW
A. A customer has a responsibility in this matter. If you leave valuables hidden in a drawer or other location; then there is no way to account for those valuables. In other words, the value could be $100, $1000, or a diamond ring worth $1 million. There is only your word that the valuables were in a hidden place without some accountability. Now they are missing and, based on circumstantial evidence at best, someone is to blame. Based on the circumstantial evidence, it sounds like a crew member may be to blame but that is not entirely conclusive. It may seem like a logical conclusion. In many moves, there are often lots of other people (cleaners, painters, handymen, family members) with access but, frequently, the movers are first to be suspected. In some countries, a Rolex watch will feed a family or a village for a year. To leave such an item unattended, hidden and unaccounted for while work crews are present in what can be a busy, hectic environment is just not a good idea. Customers need to use some common sense and not leave such a temptation. From the mover’s point of view, a customer could name any amount as the value for an item not accounted for on an inventory or without any evidence as to the item or its value. Most movers will recommend that the customer contact the police. You can avoid such incidents by hiring a good mover. However, this reduces the risk; it does not eliminate it. Common sense dictates that you should never leave valuables hidden away in items being moved. Either take them with you or include them on the inventory. (Adapted from Ray DaSilva, Mobility Exchange, LLC)
Q. Am I able to claim my moving expenses as a tax deduction?
A. You may be able to claim your moving expenses as a deduction when you file your taxes. Here's some information on Deducting Moving Expenses at Tax Time (PDF, 29Jan2019) to review, along with some Canada Revenue print and fillable forms.
Q. How much do I tip movers?
A. Here’s how much you should tip movers, according to professional movers (Apartment Therapy, 22Feb2020)