Lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, but disaster can if you fall victim to unscrupulous contractors. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that insurance fraud accounts for about 10 percent of all property casualty claims. While the majority of contractors are trustworthy, some take advantage of vulnerable policyholders, and the added expense can result in higher insurance costs for all consumers.
Protect yourself from scams by considering these tips on what to do when someone offers services:
- Get more than one estimate. Do not feel obligated to sign a contract right away.
- Get everything in writing, including cost, work to be done, time schedule, guarantees, payment schedule and other expectations.
- Request references and check them out.
- Ask to see the contractor’s driver’s license, and write down the license number. Also take down the vehicle plate number.
- Never sign a contract containing blank spots. Unacceptable terms could be entered later.
- Pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate ONLY after work is satisfactorily completed.
While your instincts may be to rush through the process of finding the help to restore your property, taking the time to find the right contractor can save time, money and additional frustration in the long run. To report suspicious activity, contact your insurance agent or carrier or the National Insurance Crime Bureau:
- Text FRAUD and your tip to TIP411 (847411)
- Call 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422)
- Submit a form on www.nicb.org