DES PLAINES, Ill., May 4, 2021 — Thunderstorms, hail, and severe winds swept through numerous communities in Northern Texas and Oklahoma, leaving people facing the arduous task of repairing the damage.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) common claims following hailstorms include auto claims for broken windows and severe denting on hoods, rooftops and trunk lids. Additionally, damage to homes, particularly roofs, can be severe, even if not noticeable from a vantage point on the ground.
“Homeowners need to hire good, reputable contractors to assess the damage to their homes,” said David Glawe, President and CEO of the NICB. “Damage from hail can, in some cases, be obvious but sometimes the full extent is less clear and a contractor familiar with hail damage can assess the situation more accurately. As a result, homeowners are relying on the sound advice of a contractor to provide an accurate inspection.”
Though most contractors run fair and legitimate practices, there are some that do not, instead coming to an area following a severe storm looking to make a quick buck. These fraudsters can intentionally damage your roof to make it look like it received damage when in reality, it did not. Some of these contractors try to rush you into a decision before you have a chance to talk to your insurer or get a second opinion, and others will try to get you to pay in advance, then take the money and never complete the job.
Typically, these disaster repair scams are unsolicited, beginning with a visit from a contractor who says they seek to help 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 do 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 drivers’ license and write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number.
- Look for out-of-state contractor licenses as well as out-of-state vehicle registrations.
- Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms could 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 language of your insurance policy.
- Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company.
Furthermore, some deceitful contractors will state they are supported by the government. However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency does not endorse individual contractors or loan agencies. Consumers should call FEMA for more specifics at (800) 621-FEMA.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, call the NICB at 1-800-TEL-NICB. For additional information on hiring contractors, follow this link.