We are in the midst of hurricane season and living in Georgia where we have mountainous and coastal regions as well as plains, you never know when disaster could strike. As you know, you don’t have to live directly on the coast to feel the effects of a hurricane or tropical storm system. You always want to make sure that your insurance coverage is up to par, and you are covering all of the things that are important to you and your family. Your local agent can help you navigate your policy and make sure you’re covered before a disaster strikes.
Along with checking your coverage be weary of those that like to capitalize on others’ misfortunes. Unfortunately, there are some contractors out there that prey on those that sustain damage during a storm or natural disaster. Some untrustworthy contractors have even been known to manipulate the price to cover your deductible or extra work not caused be the storm. That’s illegal, considered a felony, and known as insurance fraud. Below are 5 things you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim of contractor fraud.
If you feel like a contractor is trying to rush you through the process, especially on non-emergency or temporary repairs be weary. Get recommendations from friends and neighbors. Get a second opinion. Be suspicious of those that come knocking on your door offering unsolicited repairs to your home. A good rule of thumb is to get three written estimates for the work, compare those bids and check with the Better Business Bureau or Georgia’s Attorney General’s Office to make sure the company doesn’t have complaints against them.
Don’t pay up front
Always inspect the work, and make sure your satisfied with the finished product before you pay. Most companies will require a down payment, but make sure you have a written contract before you pay.
Get it in writing
Make sure you have a written, detailed contract that clearly states everything the contractor will do. This contract should include prices for labor and materials, clean-up procedures, and an estimated start and finish date. Do not sign the contract if it has blank spaces because an untrustworthy contractor could potentially alter that written agreement after you sign on the dotted line.
Don’t believe everything you hear
If a contractor says they’re supported by the government, don’t take their word for it. FEMA or the Federal Emergency Management Agency does not endorse individual contractors or loan companies. Call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA for more information.
Don’t pay cash
To create a record or paper trail of your payment avoid paying cash. Instead use a check or credit card.
Content provided by the National Insurance Crime Bureau