Homeowners about to rebuild after the recent tornadoes in the Midwest and South should use caution when hiring contractors and workers to help repair and clean up storm damage, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) says.
"As the rebuilding process gets under way, unlicensed contractors and scam artists may be looking to cash in on your misfortune," Christopher Hackett, PCI's director of personal lines policy, said in a press statement.
Although homeowners are naturally in a hurry to make repairs, they'll save time and money by taking the time to check the credentials of the businesses and people they hire, he said.
PCI urges property owners to check references before contracting for any services and talk to their insurance agents and companies. The group offered the following tips:
- Shop around for a contractor and be suspicious of anyone who tries to rush the hiring decision.
- Provide a reasonable down payment only after you have a written contract.
- Obtain a written contract that spells out what the contractor will do, including prices for labor and materials, cleanup procedures, and estimated start and finish dates. Never sign a contract with blank spaces.
- Don't believe contractors who say they're supported by the government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency does not endorse contractors or loan companies.
- Avoid paying in cash. Use a check or credit card instead to create a record of payments.
PCI includes more than 1,000 member commercial, home and car insurance companies.