Homeowners: Beware of post-Irene scamsby Tim Manni
But as you’re assessing the damage and realizing the work that needs to be done, experts warn that another disaster may be waiting in the wings: scam artists.
Our friends over at Insure.com (a great place for homeowners to learn everything they need to know about insuring their homes and belongings) warn that shady contractors–promising repairs and clean-up services–may be waiting to prey on needy homeowners:
“We call them fly-by-night storm chasers,” says Roger Morris, spokesperson for the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). “They come in and descend on a neighborhood. You write a check, and you never see them again.”
Call your insurance company first
No matter if your home was affected by Hurricane Irene or any other natural disaster, a call to your insurance company should be the first call you make. The experts say your insurance company will walk you through the process, including suggesting reputable contractors you can contact.
Follow these tips
Homeowners: your home is probably the single-largest investment you’ll ever make. When your home is damaged, the physical and emotional toll can be devastating, especially in this housing environment where many homes have lost and are still losing value.
The folks at Insure.com offer you these tips before you hire someone to repair your home:
• Get more than one estimate for major repair work. Be wary if one of the bids is significantly lower than the others.
• Check out the contractor. Make sure the contractor is licensed to do work in your state and has an established business in your state. Ask for and check contractors’ references. Ask to see the sales person’s driver’s license, advises NICB. Write down the person’s license number and the vehicle license plate number.
• Work closely with your car and home insurance companies. Review and make sure you understand all documents from your insurer. Don’t let a contractor interpret the insurance policy for you or discourage you from contacting your insurer, says Morris.
To read more tips and to find out what you can do if you think you have been approached by a dishonest contractor or unscrupulous adjuster, be sure to read Insure’s article in its entirety.