How to Avoid Common Scams During Storm Recovery
The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud has developed a list of the six worst contractor scams that property owners may face. In addition, the Coalition offers six ways property owners can prevent costly contractor scams. Find out what scams to look for and how to avoid them below. Afterwards, find additional resources for hiring a professional roofing contractor and hiring a commercial electrical contractor at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) website. In addition, the National Insurance Crime Bureau is warning consumers about scams involving flooded cars that could be hitting the markets.
SIX WORST CONTRACTOR SCAMS
Contractors can demand large downpayments before making any repairs, then disappear after doing little to no work.
A contractor that produces low quality work, or uses cheap materials, can often leave you to redo repairs at your own expense.
This occurs when a contractor invents damage caused by severe weather.
Analyze your home before contacting a contractor, a common scam is to create damage in order to bill you for more work.
Paying your Deductible
Contractors that offer to pay your insurance deductible can be a con just to lure your business.
Contractors Working with your Insurer
Avoid losing control and oversight of your insurance claim by preventing your professional contractor from working directly with your insurer.
SIX WAYS TO AVOID CONTRACTOR SCAMS
Avoid Door-to-Door Inquiries
Hire reputable contractors that are based locally or in your region.
Be sure that your contractor is licensed by contacting your state and local licensing agencies.
Conduct a Background Check
Does your contractor have a history of complaints? Find out be contacting your local Better Business Bureau, or by contacting your contractor’s past clients if possible.
Work with your Insurer
Maintain direct communication with your insurer and avoid having your contractor do all of the talking.
Sign a Contract
Sign a contract that specifies what will be done, how much it will cost, and when it will be done by.
Watch for Red Flags
Does your contractor have no referrals or business cards? Do they use a P.O. Box instead of a street address? Can they show proof of workers compensation insurance or surety/performance bond? Be on the look out for things that might suggest they are not a reputable contractor that will perform quality work for a reasonable price.
FLOODED VEHICLES: WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU BUY
As the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions recover from Hurricane Sandy, personnel from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) stand ready to assist law enforcement agencies, insurance and car rental companies with identifying and cataloging vehicles damaged by Hurricane Sandy with the goal of preventing damaged vehicles from being resold to unsuspecting consumers in the future.
Authorities estimate that thousands of vehicles may have received damage from flooding in several states.
Seven years ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, NICB worked with law enforcement officials in Louisiana and Mississippi to inspect hundreds of thousands of vehicles damaged by flood waters. NICB then established an unprecedented consumer protection service known today as VINCheckSM.
VINCheck allows individuals to check to see if a vehicle has ever been declared as salvage by one of our participating member insurance companies. It also alerts users if a vehicle is an unrecovered stolen vehicle. VINCheck remains a free service available to the public at www.nicb.org.
© 2012 Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety