Montana homeowners victimized by contractor testify in support of bill
HELENA, MT - Having your home damaged by a winter storm is stressful enough, but dishonest contractors can make things even worse for homeowners by going door-to-door in storm damaged areas and pressuring people to sign contracts, says the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). HB 222, authored by Dennis Lenz, R-Billings, will protect Montana homeowners and put in place checks and balances that will prevent homeowners from being victimized a second time after a major hail storm damages homes.
“This bill is about protecting consumers from predators who follow behind storms and pressure people into signing contracts,” said Representative Dennis Lenz (R-Billings).
27 states already have approved similar laws that prevent storm chasing contractors from taking advantage of homeowners.
“We had eight contractors at our door within two days, said Michelle Qualls, Billings homeowner. “We thought we did our research and were dealing with a local contractor but now we’re the poster children for what can go wrong.”
HB 222 specifies what information contractors must include in their advertising, requires a detailed contract be provided and allows homeowners to cancel the contract within five days if the work is not covered under the insurance policy.
“Contractors do this in Montana because they CAN,” said Michael Qualls, Billings homeowner. Our lawmakers can make it more difficult for this to happen to other folks by passing this bill.”
“HB 222 only impacts contracts involving insurance and lays out a reasonable timeline for the necessary insurance approvals — what reputable contractors already do,” said Melanie Smith, PCI regional manager. “You can’t stop Mother Nature, but you can approve reforms that will give consumers tools to protect themselves from unfair contracts and poor repairs to their home.”
Members of the Montana House Business and Labor Committee heard testimony on HB 222 today and will next consider a vote of the bill.
HB 222 Makes sure homeowners know who they’re dealing with by requiring advertising to include:
The name of the contractor
Assurance contractor is insured and bonded
License or registration number for jurisdiction
HB 222 Requires full disclosure before signing a contract by requiring proposals to include:
Description and location of all damage
Description and itemization of any emergency repairs
Any damaged areas not included in proposal and reason for exclusion
HB 222 provides common-sense consumer protections by requiring contracts to include:
Copy of proposal with damage areas
Disclosure that consumer is responsible for cost if insurance company denies claim
The right to cancel contract within 5 business days or 5 days after claim was legitimately denied by insurance company. Eight states already allow for five days for cancelation, 10 allow three days to and Alabama allows for ten days.
Billings Homeowners Michael & Michelle Qualls testified in support of HB 222 today before the Montana House Business and Labor Committee. If interested in hearing their fraud story contact firstname.lastname@example.org