TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —- As the recovery process following Hurricane Matthew continues, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) warns Florida homeowners impacted by the storm to use caution when hiring a contractor or other workers to help repair and clean up storm damage. PCI recommends homeowners follow their 6 quick tips to avoid being scammed by individuals looking to take advantage of them during a time of need.
“PCI encourages Florida homeowners to use caution when selecting a contractor or other workers to help in the repair and clean up of Hurricane Matthew,” said Logan McFaddin, PCI’s regional manager. “Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous, unlicensed contractors and scam artists out there that may be looking to take advantage of Floridians who have suffered property damage due to the storm. To save yourself a lot of time, money and frustration, PCI recommends taking the time to check credentials of businesses and individuals you hire to make repairs, as well as checking references before contracting their services.”
“Insurers devote many resources to ensure the claims process goes smoothly and meets the needs of Florida policyholders,” said McFaddin. “PCI encourages you to use your insurer and agent as a resource to help you access the services you need to handle your claim, and take the proper precautions to make sure you are hiring a reputable contractor to complete the job.”
PCI’s 6 Tips for Selecting Repair Contractors:
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. 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 they have gotten your signature.
Don’t believe a contractor who says they are 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 important tips please follow PCI on Twitter @PCIAA #Matthew or visit PCI’s Hurricane Headquarters page.