We identify all fast-mode forward shocks, whose sheath regions resulted in a moderate (56 cases) or intense (38 cases) geomagnetic storm during 18.5 years from January 1997 to June 2015. We study their main properties, interplanetary causes and geo-effects. We find that half (49/94) such shocks are associated with interacting coronal mass ejections (CMEs), as they are either shocks propagating into a preceding CME (35 cases) or a shock propagating into the sheath region of a preceding shock (14 cases). About half (22/45) of the shocks driven by isolated transients and which have geo-effective sheaths compress pre-existing southward Bz . Most of the remaining sheaths appear to have planar structures with southward magnetic fields, including some with planar structures consistent with field line draping ahead of the magnetic ejecta. A typical (median) geo-effective shock-sheath structure drives a geomagnetic storm with peak Dst of -88 nT, pushes the subsolar magnetopause location to 6.3 RE, i.e. below geosynchronous orbit and is associated with substorms with a peak AL-index of -1350 nT. There are some important differences between sheaths associated with CME-CME interaction (stronger storms) and those associated with isolated CMEs (stronger compression of the magnetosphere). We detail six case studies of different types of geo-effective shock-sheaths, as well as two events for which there was no geomagnetic storm but other magnetospheric effects. Finally, we discuss our results in terms of space weather forecasting, and potential effects on Earth's radiation belts.