NICB Urges Homeowners To Use Caution And Avoid Post-Disaster Fraud As They Begin The Rebuilding Process

DES PLAINES, Ill., August 22, 2022 — Following record-breaking rain, life-threatening flooding, and scorching wildfires throughout the nation, homeowners left picking up the pieces could be victimized a second time by dishonest contractors looking to make a quick, corrupt buck. 

Following a disaster, victims are understandably shocked by the damage and possible loss of their homes and possessions. This is the time where bad actors prey on the vulnerable by arriving at their doorsteps, often unsolicited, and press homeowners into paying out their insurance claim prior to the repairs being completed. Once the payment has been collected, fraudulent contractors disappear without completing the work that was promised.

“Recovering from a disaster is an intimidating task, and homeowners should not be victimized twice,” said NICB president and CEO David Glawe. “Dishonest contractors further complicate the situation by exploiting victims at the expense of homeowners and insurance providers resulting in higher insurance costs for everyone.”

Contractor Fraud Prevention Tips

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.

Post-Disaster Contractor Search Checklist

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (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 language of your insurance policy.  
  • Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company.  
  • Remember, if you didn’t request it, reject it!

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.

The NICB has produced public service announcements on contractor fraud for both radio and television and in English and Spanish.

Disaster PSAs
Wildfires  |  Tornadoes |  Hurricanes  |  Hailstorms

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.

Media Contact

If you have a question, want further information on the NICB, or to discuss insurance fraud or vehicle crime, please contact:

Chris Stroisch
Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications
847.450.9814
cstroisch@nicb.org

Or, if you are a reporter and have a request or question, please complete the Media Request Form.

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on our website.

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to combatting and preventing insurance crime through Intelligence, Analytics, and Operations; Education and Crime Prevention; and Strategy, Policy, and Advocacy. The NICB is supported by more than 1,200 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $582 billion in insurance premiums in 2021, or more than 82% of the nation's property-casualty insurance. That includes more than 96% of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more, visit www.nicb.org.