DES PLAINES, Ill.—After a natural disaster, almost all repair scams begin with a knock on the door—an unsolicited visit from a contractor. When it happens to you, remember this line from the National Insurance Crime Bureau: If you didn’t request it, reject it.
If you think you might have damage from a storm, call your insurance company first. Your insurance company will honor its policy and will cover you for losses, so there is no need to speak with a contractor who solicits your repair work—especially when you did not request it, says NCIB, a not-for-profit organization fighting insurance fraud.
Use these tips for hiring a contractor:
- Get more than one estimate.
- Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules, and other expectations should be detailed.
- Demand references and check them out.
- Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license and write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number.
- Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms can be added later.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished and ensure reconstruction is up to current code.
- Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier.
- Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them.
- Never let a contractor interpret the insurance policy language.
- Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company.
If you believe you have been approached by an unlicensed or unscrupulous contractor or adjuster, or have been encouraged to fabricate an insurance claim, contact your insurance company or call the NICB Hotline at 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422). You may also text your information to TIP411, keyword “FRAUD” and remain anonymous if you so desire.
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau