RALEIGH, N.C.- As communities in the Carolinas and Virginia begin the recovery process from Hurricane Florence, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) warns consumers to be aware of contractors who try to take advantage of storm victims.
“As homeowners begin seeking help to clean up and repair storm damage, it’s really important that they be cautious about the contractors they hire,” said Chris Hackett PCI senior director. “Unfortunately, there are instances of unscrupulous, unlicensed contractors who try to take advantage of storm victims. After suffering storm damage, the last thing homeowners need is to be ripped off by a fraudulent contractor.”
PCI recommends the following tips to help homeowners save time and money and avoid being caught in a contractor scam.
PCI’s Tips for Selecting a Repair Contractor
Check credentials. Take time to research the background of any businesses you’re considering hiring to make repairs. Check their references and their status with the Better Business Bureau. Make an inquiry to the state attorney general’s office to see if the firms have any outstanding complaints.
Shop around. Get written estimates and compare the bids. Ask for recommendations from friends and neighbors.
Use your insurer as a resource. Insurers are committed to helping the claims process go smoothly and often can recommend a reputable contractor.
Be suspicious. Contactors who try to rush you, especially on non-emergency or temporary repairs, often aren’t trustworthy. Be wary of anyone knocking on your door offering unsolicited repairs to your home. Don’t sign any documents regarding your insurance benefits without first talking to your insurer. Also, don’t believe a contractor who says they are supported by the government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency does not endorse individual contractors.
Insist on a contract. Make sure you get a copy of a written, detailed contract that clearly states the scope of work, prices for labor and materials and estimated start and finish dates. Never sign a contract with blank spaces, which a crooked contractor can alter after you’ve signed it.
Don’t pay first. Always inspect the work and make sure you’re satisfied before you pay. Most contractors will require a reasonable down payment on work, but you shouldn’t provide that until you have a written contract. Also, pay with a check or credit card instead of cash so that you have a record of your payments to the contractor.
2018 Hurricane Season Resources:
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) member company Toll-Free Policyholder Claim Phone Numbers.
Online Magazine: http://bit.ly/HurricanePrep2018
2018 Insurance Checklist: http://bit.ly/InsuranceChecklist18
2018 Hurricane Fact Sheet: http://bit.ly/HurricaneFacts18
2018 Insurance Claim Tips: http://bit.ly/InsuranceClaimTips
Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value: http://bit.ly/replacementvscashvalue
PCI’s contractor fraud and abuse digital interactive guide is a one-stop shop to learn more about how to avoid contractor fraud and abuse.