After a significant hurricane or weather-related tragedy, opportunists and fraudsters seem to come out of the woodwork to prosper off the vulnerable situation property owners may find themselves in.
In the hectic, chaotic days that follow any storm, dishonest contractors, repair businesses, and service-related representatives prosper with promises of cheap repairs, emergency grant money, or claims of altruistic intentions. During these vulnerable moments, it is more important than ever that property owners be aware of unlicensed individuals who may show up at the door with lofty claims.
Avoid Home Improvement Scams
Be cautious when any salesperson or self-proclaimed expert appears at your door uninvited. Many scammers prey on unsuspecting and vulnerable property owners by going door to door.
Home improvement scams often flourish in the wake of disasters, especially after violent storms such as hurricanes and tornados. However, they “prowl” at all times of year in the hopes of making a quick buck off of property owners. Scammers know concerned owners will spend money to improve a problem with their property.
The claims made by any unsolicited contractors, or any offers that seem too good to be true, should be given a second look. Here are some suggestions for protecting yourself.
Take Precautions When Giving Vital Information
Never divulge your policy number, coverage information, or any other private information to individuals or businesses unless you have thoroughly investigated the contractor and are prepared to sign a contract after doing your due diligence about the company.
Verify Licensing and Credentials
Be sure to check with your insurer, prior to contracting for services, to confirm your coverage and policy requirements. Hire only licensed specialists with a good reputation and acquire itemized estimates for bids or repairs.
Choosing a Contractor
Choose the person who will work on your property carefully by doing your homework. Selecting a contractor with a recognized physical address, Google reviews, and a current phone number is an important base to cover. Take the step of seeking out customer testimonials or referrals to ensure the contractor has a quality reputation.
The best course of action is to obtain quotes from multiple contractors before having any work done on your home. Get the proposals in writing, and make sure the details of the services to be provided are clear.
Carefully Examine Contracts
The majority of home improvement and repair work is done under contract. In fact, for their own protection, reputable companies typically demand contracts. A well-written contract should also safeguard the property owner.
Verify that the written contract contains all the “promises” made to you. Insist on a formal contract that details the work to be done by the contractor, including when it will begin, and when it is estimated to be completed. Make sure the contract specifies the cost of special orders and materials and contains everything the contractor or salesperson promised.
Be Wary of Lofty Claims of Savings
Anyone who approaches you without your permission or claims to be able to perform repairs at a reduced cost should be suspect.
Contractors who demand big deposits or upfront payments should be avoided. Never make checks payable to a person or to "Cash," but rather to a company. This request would be a huge red flag you shouldn’t ignore.
Just say “No” to individuals who tell you to avoid getting permits to save money. Most repairs require a permit, which ensures adherence to building codes and rules, and an inspection of the finished work might be necessary to complete a permit.
Hire a Public Adjuster to Help
Public adjusters may be hired by policyholders to help them with their insurance claims. Even though the majority are trustworthy, after a disaster, unlicensed individuals claiming to be public adjusters may also attempt to take advantage of property owners. Partner with a reputable company such as Reliant Insurance Adjusters to ensure that your best interests at a property owner are their priority.
If you have any questions about your claim or you need to file an insurance claim, contact Reliant Insurance Adjusters today.