With every disaster come the swamp rats who can't climb out of their holes fast enough to take advantage of desperate people. They flock here from all over the country to collect the low-hanging fruit that often is insurance money. The money paid out by insurance is YOUR money to pay for YOUR damage to be fixed. Protect it as you would your paycheck. Here are some tips to help avoid the scam artists and fly-by-night operations that won't be there to honor warranty work.
- ALWAYS use a licensed, insured, bonded contractor to do repairs. Often the insurance company will not honor repairs done by your cousin's neighbor's wife's dog walker who happens to do roofing on the side. Don't let anyone talk you into the "but you can keep the extra money" approach. Insurance companies pay what they do for repairs, often more than normal rate, because they want it done properly.
- Always do your homework before allowing any work to be done. Sunbiz.org, floridaroof.com, cfrsa.org are a few of the sites available to help vet the contractors you're considering. While personal recommendations are good, it is still vital to verify the people working on your property.
- Make sure the company is really local. Contractors often "rent" their license to out of state contractors for a cut of the profit.
- Beware of door to door contractor solicitations. This doesn't automatically make them criminals, but when you do research and then call a contractor yourself the risk is reduced.
- Watch out for contractors who ask for payment up front. Most reputable companies will wait until the initial insurance check comes in.
- Don't ever pay anyone a fee to help you "file the insurance claim". That's what your agent is for. If you don't have an agent, call us or call the company directly.
- Same goes for someone who claims to be there to "help" from FEMA or any other organization meant to help in a catastrophe. You never have to pay to get help from the Government or a legitimate charity.
- Obviously guard your personal information. The best way I know to reduce nefarious activity on your credit is LifeLock.com. Within days of signing up all my pre-approved credit offers stopped and they call within minutes of a credit application to verify identity. I cannot recommend them too much.
As with anything, if it seems too good to be true, probably is. If it doesn't seem right off the bat, probably isn't.
Call us with any questions about your insurance and for a review of current coverage: 321.264.2434.