DES PLAINES, Ill., November XX, 2020 — In the aftermath of the devastating East Troublesome and Cameron Peak Colorado wildfires, the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association are providing Coloradans with recommendations to avoid contractor fraud while rebuilding.
“A key element when rebuilding your home following a disaster is making certain you do your homework when hiring a contractor,” says Vice President of Operations, Intelligence, and Analytics John Selleck. “There are some who try to take advantage of disaster victims but doing some research before selecting a contractor will save you time, grief and money” says Selleck.
“Always contact your insurer before you commit to a contractor,” says Rocky Mountain Insurance Association Executive Director Carole Walker. “Understanding your insurance coverage and coordinating with your insurance adjuster on the front-end will help with the claim process and put you on the right road to rebuilding your home.”
The NICB and RMIA recommends this advice for Colorado fire victims:
- Get more than one estimate and don't be pushed into signing a contract right away.
- Get everything in writing including cost, work to be done, materials, time schedule, guarantees, payment schedule and other expectations should be detailed.
- Request references and check them out.
- Ask to see the salesperson's driver's license and write down the license number and license plate number.
- Ask for proof the contractor is bonded, carries liability insurance and covers his/her workers with workers compensation insurance.
- Check the contractor's business card which should have a verifiable street address and office phone number.
- Never sign a contract with blanks as unacceptable terms can be added later.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished. Request a lien waiver indicating the contractor has paid its subcontractors and suppliers.
- Insurance coverage may be rendered void if intentional misrepresentation by a policyholder is discovered.
Be certain to keep all paperwork from your insurer and your contractor. In Colorado, a contractor may require you to sign a form allowing your insurer to pay the contractor directly. Routinely check on the progress of repairs and take photos throughout the duration of the project.
NICB has both 30- and 60-second PSAs about contractor fraud available for use by media outlets and websites. The PSAs are can be found on the NICB PSA platform located here.
If you believe you have been approached by an unlicensed contractor or adjuster, or have been encouraged to fabricate an insurance claim, contact your insurance company or call the National Insurance Crime Bureau Hotline at 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422).