Hail and wind storms can damage more than your home, cars, and personal property. They open up the market for storm repair scammers or contractors that look to take advantage of your misfortune.
Storm scammers operate by visiting an area that was recently hit by severe weather. They go through neighborhoods and offer repair services, even though they may not be professionally licensed. Their schemes may include taking up-front payments and never returning to do any work on damaged property, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
It’s frightening enough when a tree goes down in your yard or hail destroys your roof. Don’t let storm scammers add to that worry. Follow these steps immediately after storm damage to protect yourself, your property, and your pocketbook:
• Call your insurance agent or insurance company – usually, smaller damage claims can be handled over the phone, but larger losses will call for claims representatives to be in your area. Have them inspect the damage before contacting any repair services.
• Begin to remove debris (only if you can do so safely) and protect your property from further damage by boarding up windows, for example.
• Never give a deposit to a contractor until you have checked out the business thoroughly and have a written contract.
• In general, avoid letting a contractor inspect your property unless you have requested him or her to do so.
Read more about storm scammers and other types of insurance fraud by visiting www.NICB.org.