With peak hurricane season right here, know easy methods to spot and cease contractor fraud after catastrophe

Hurricane season has been quiet with solely three tropical storms thus far in 2022, however peak season exercise is starting. Colorado State College forecasts a complete of 18 storms, together with the three named storms which have already shaped, earlier than the season ends on Nov. 30.

Extra storms imply extra alternatives for dishonest contractors and fraudsters to prey on householders in want of repairs, which is why Florida’s Insurance coverage Shopper Advocate and insurers are working collectively to empower Floridians with the data and assets to struggle fraud and keep away from turning into a sufferer.

Tasha Carter
Tasha Carter [ DFS FLORIDA | Provided ]

Illegitimate contractors’ deception and deliberate schemes have a far-reaching affect on Floridians and the insurance coverage market. Fraud drives up prices and leaves shoppers to cowl the scarcity. With Florida’s property insurance coverage market on life help, an inflow of fraudulent roofing restore schemes and its corresponding wave of litigation after a catastrophe can be devastating for shoppers.

Logan McFaddin
Logan McFaddin [ Provided ]

Whereas contractors play an integral function within the constructing and restore course of and most are reputable, others need to reap the benefits of householders in susceptible conditions after a catastrophe. Householders ought to look ahead to purple flags, similar to somebody going door-to-door utilizing excessive stress gross sales techniques and demanding cost up entrance. Earlier than peak hurricane season exercise kicks into gear, householders ought to create a listing of licensed, respected contractors of their space.

If your property is broken or destroyed in a storm, contact your insurer first to file your declare. Your insurer ought to confirm the repairs are lined by your coverage earlier than you signal any contracts. After getting established the repairs are lined, then use a licensed, insured and respected contractor to make the repairs.

Be certain that the contractor has an lively, legitimate Florida license at www.MyFloridaLicense.com. Ask the contractor to offer proof of basic legal responsibility and employees’ compensation insurance coverage by requesting a certificates of insurance coverage.

Earlier than transferring ahead, get three written, itemized estimates and examine the bids. If one of many bids is way increased or decrease than the others, that may be a potential purple flag. When researching contractors, examine with the Florida Division of Enterprise & Skilled Regulation or the Higher Enterprise Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed in opposition to them.

After getting selected a contractor, get a written contract that clearly states all the pieces the contractor will do, together with costs for labor and supplies. By no means signal a contract with blanks that might be crammed in later with out your data or consent. Most contractors require an inexpensive down cost, however by no means pay in full up entrance and don’t pay in money. Use a examine or bank card so that you’ve got a report of cost.

Spend your days with Hayes

Spend your days with Hayes

Subscribe to our free Stephinitely e-newsletter

Columnist Stephanie Hayes will share ideas, emotions and humorous enterprise with you each Monday.

You’re all signed up!

Need extra of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get began.

Discover all of your choices

Florida’s property insurance coverage market is experiencing vital turmoil because of extreme authorized system abuse and fraud. The extra we are able to crack down on dangerous actors and stop fraud from occurring, the extra we can assist stabilize the marketplace for shoppers long-term.

One of the best ways to struggle fraud is to learn and ready. Florida’s Insurance coverage Shopper Advocate and the American Property Casualty Insurance coverage Affiliation have created an in depth information for a way shoppers can keep away from being a sufferer of contractor fraud and abuse. The free, printer-friendly information is on the market on-line at www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/ICA/FraudPrevention. We encourage you to print the information and preserve it in a safe location along with your insurance coverage and different vital paperwork, so it’s simply accessible after a storm. Put together as a lot as attainable beforehand to guard your self from fraud and make the catastrophe restoration course of smoother.

Tasha Carter is Florida’s Insurance coverage Shopper Advocate. Logan McFaddin is vice chairman of state authorities relations for the American Property Casualty Insurance coverage Affiliation.