As we face another hurricane season and wildfires rage through Texas, it is important for affected homeowners to know the facts about avoiding insurance scams. In the wake of a disaster, people often find themselves in a vulnerable position, needing to repair or rebuild their homes. Unscrupulous contractors will sometimes take advantage of this stressful time, and homeowners should know how to protect themselves.
- Know your rights. Evaluate your insurance before disaster strikes to be certain that you have the right policy for your needs. In addition, become familiar with whatever government assistance may be available in your area.
- Document everything. Take pictures or video of damage, save receipts, document phone calls and other interactions.
- Shop around. Get several estimates on your damages, and interview various contractors to find one with which you are comfortable. Do not make this decision quickly, and avoid any contractor that seems to be rushing you. Unscrupulous builders have been known to price gouge in times of disaster, and getting several estimates can help you know the fair market price for the work you need done.
- Avoid con artists. There are several scams that have been uncovered in the wake of disasters like Hurricane Katrina, and it helps to know some red flags to watch out for:
- Door-to-door salesmen. Reputable contractors do not need to go door to door in order to drum up business.
- FEMA-endorsed contractors. FEMA does not endorse individual contractors. If you meet one who claims to have such an endorsement, steer clear.
- Contractors who demand upfront payment. Never pay in full before a job is completed, and be wary of a contractor who insists on being paid in cash.
- Anyone unwilling to provide references or documentation. You should see the contractor’s license, registration, and proof of insurance before you begin, and be provided with enough references to give you a clear understanding of the builder’s character.
- Report suspected fraud. If you think you are being scammed, contact the local authorities, and always report anyone who encourages you to file a fraudulent insurance claim.
If you experienced the devastation of a natural disaster and need help rebuilding, consider Clark Wilson Builders. Reputable local builders in Central Texas since 1986, they have helped thousands of families build the homes of their dreams. Visit their website, check them out on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter for more information.