As we begin the process of recovering from the devastating effects of last week’s storm, many of our clients who sustained damages are being approached by individuals and groups, both in-person and over the phone, offering a variety of disaster-related construction, utility, and public inspector services. If you are approached by someone offering to help repair your home or to assess its damage, it’s important to exercise caution and consider the following:
- Never feel forced into make an immediate decision and don’t be fooled into deals or discounts that are only available for a limited time.
- If an inspector or service technician is claiming they work for an authorized provider or insurance company, always ask to see their credentials before allowing them into your home.
- Never let anyone persuade you to seek reimbursement for nonexistent or exaggerated losses or damages. This is insurance fraud, which is a felony.
- For contractors and repair service providers, please visit the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org/) and learn more about their company’s reliability and their authority to do business in your state.
- Ask contractors for references and examples of their work.
- Avoid making cash payments.
- Request multiple estimates from other reputable companies specializing in the same services.
- For contractors and repair service providers, ask for a copy of their company’s insurance certificate and verify that the coverage is currently in-force. On the certificate, look to verify that the contractor/service provider has both General Liability Insurance, as well as Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
- Do not sign any contracts before reviewing it carefully. Never let anyone recite the terms of the contract either; read it for yourself and make sure the services offered are consistent with what you verbally agreed to.
- Do not make any deposits or down-payments before doing your research and feeling confident in the company you’ve chosen.
- Inspect all work prior to making any down payments.
- Price gouging, which is the act of selling necessary goods and services at a price much higher than what is normally deemed reasonable, is illegal and should be reported to local authorities.
If anyone claims to have already performed work on your property and is demanding payment, contact your local authorities immediately.