DES PLAINES, Ill., Aug. 19, 2020 — With more than 80,000 homes damaged or destroyed, Iowans face an uphill battle securing materials and contractors to affect repairs. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) warns everyone to avoid being victimized by dishonest contractors who will be seeking to take advantage of an already tragic situation.
After disasters, corrupt contractors may press homeowners into paying out their insurance claim prior to the repairs being completed. Time and again, we have seen these bad actors collect payment, and then disappear without completing the work that was promised.
Typically, these disaster repair scams are unsolicited, beginning with a visit from a contractor who seeks to help storm victims rebuild. Before hiring any contractor, call your insurance company. There is no need to rush into an agreement with a contractor who solicits your repair work, especially if it was not requested.
NICB suggests you consider these tips before 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.
- Request references and do the research.
- Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license and write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number.
- Look out for out-of-state contractor licenses as well as out-of-state vehicle registrations as these may also indicate possible fraudulent contractors.
- 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.
- 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.