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Cliston Brown


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November 1, 2012

PCI Urges Property Owners Affected by Sandy To Use Caution in Selecting Repair Contractors

CHICAGO—For homeowners who are able to begin the rebuilding process following Superstorm Sandy, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) urges the use of caution in hiring a contractor or other workers to help repair and clean up storm damage.

“Residents in the areas affected by Sandy need our help, and we in the insurance industry are very concerned for their well-being,” said Chris Hackett, PCI’s director, personal lines policy. “It is our job to help them pick up the pieces and rebuild as quickly as possible.

“However, we urge those affected by the storm to be very cautious in selecting a contractor. As the rebuilding process gets underway, unlicensed contractors and scam artists may be looking to cash in on the misfortune of those who have suffered property damage. It is natural for homeowners to be in a hurry to begin making repairs following a natural disaster. However, they can save themselves a lot of time, money and frustration by taking the time to check the credentials of the businesses and individuals that you hire to repair their property.”

Before contracting for services, check references. It can be helpful to see who is working with your neighbors who may also have claims. To maintain your trust and business, insurers devote many resources to ensure that the claims process is smooth, easy and meets your needs. Your insurer and agent are excellent resources to help you access the services you need to handle your claim.

Superstorm Sandy caused severe damage and flooding that may require special skill and care during the cleanup and repair process. As a result PCI urges homeowners to:

·         Be suspicious of any contractor who tries to rush you, especially on non-emergency or temporary repairs. If possible, shop around for a contractor by getting recommendations from friends and neighbors. Be wary of anyone knocking on your door offering unsolicited repairs to your home.

·         Never pay for work up front. “Always inspect the work and make sure you’re satisfied before you pay,” Hackett noted. “Most contractors will require a reasonable down payment on work, but don’t pay anything until you have a written contract.”

·         Get three written estimates for the work and compare bids. Check credentials with the Better Business Bureau or state attorney general’s office to see if the firm has any outstanding complaints.

·         Always have a written, detailed contract that clearly states everything the contractor will do, including prices for labor and materials, clean-up procedures, and estimated start and finish dates. Never sign a contract with blank spaces, which a crooked contractor can alter after he’s gotten your signature.

·         Don’t believe a contractor who says he’s supported by the government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not endorse individual contractors or loan companies; call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA for more information.

  • Avoid paying with cash; use a check or credit card instead. This creates a record of your payments to the contractor.


For more information, please go to PCI’s dedicated webpage regarding the use of contractors after a catastrophe:$file/Nat_Cat_Tips_Contractor.pdf.


PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write over $190 billion in annual premium, 40 percent of the nation’s property casualty insurance. Member companies write 46 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 32 percent of the homeowners market, 38 percent of the commercial property and liability market, and 41 percent of the private workers compensation market.


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