ATLANTA– Hurricanes, wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hailstorms—experiencing a disaster may be impossible to avoid. Yet, as homeowners deal with the aftermath of a catastrophe, they could be victimized by dishonest contractors if they aren’t careful.
AAA – The Auto Club Group — is partnering with the National Insurance Crime Bureau for Contractor Fraud Awareness Week, which runs May 23-27. This is designed to help property owners avoid becoming a victim of deceptive contractors.
“AAA is urging homeowners to be leery of contractors who go door-to-door in damaged neighborhoods offering cleanup or repair services after a catastrophe,” said Bobby Futch, Vice President of Claims for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “While some of these workers may be honest and reputable; there are those looking to take advantage of residents at their most vulnerable time.”
Dishonest contractors may try to pocket more profit by:
- Accepting payment then never completing (or even showing up for) the job.
- Using inferior materials or performing shoddy work that’s not up to code.
Tips to avoid fraud after a catastrophe:
- Call your insurance company first, if you think you might have damage from a storm or other disaster.
- Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurer.
- Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company.
- Be on the lookout for people calling and saying they are with a national carrier. Do not provide ANY personal information over the phone without them first confirming a claim number. If something sounds fishy, report it to your insurance company immediately.
- Note that insurance carriers will never ask you to pay your deductible up front or over the phone.
Hiring a contractor:
- Get more than one estimate. Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them.
- Work with only licensed and insured contractors.
- Request references and check them.
- Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license, write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number.
Getting the work done:
- Get contract terms in writing. Cost, time schedules, payment schedules, guarantees, work to be done, and other expectations should be detailed.
- Never sign a contract with blanks.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished, and ensure reconstruction is up to current code.
If you didn’t request it, reject it:
If you believe you’ve been approached by an unlicensed contractor or adjuster, or have been encouraged to fabricate an insurance claim, contact your insurance company or NICB immediately.
Reporting insurance fraud:
Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud can report it anonymously.
- Call 800.TEL.NICB (800-835-6422)
- Submit a form online atwww.nicb.org/reportfraud
Visit the AAA Georgia Newsroom
About AAA – The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 13 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 62 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Photo above provide via AAA.