It’s important to watch out for storm-chasing contractors, who move city to city to find storm-damaged homes and offer poor service after the sale. They usually descend on an affected like locust on a crop field, within hours or days after a storm event.
These contractors pray on a homeowner’s first instinct, which is to restore their property as quickly as possible after a devastating storm.
These contractors know that homeowners are in tough spot and will make emotional decisions that they wouldn’t normally make without doing more research.
One of the tactics that these storm-chasing contractors are using is going door to door in affected neighborhoods, promising homeowners everything under the sun in order to get them to sign a contingency form. Once you sign that form you are locked into using that contractor.
We are not saying that everyone knocking on your door, offering storm restoration assistance is always a marauder. In fact many reputable estimators will stop by if they have an estimate next door to see if they are in need of assistance as well.
Things to remember if you have storm damage:
-Always ask for local references within the last 12 months. (Even if they have local plates and a local license number) This will help you confirm if they are indeed a local contractor or not.
-Asking for identification from the company representative is a reasonable request, if they are from out of state that is a red flag.
-Do not sign anything until you have fully vetted the contractor.
-Ask to see their insurance certificates
Contractors recommended by your insurance company.
As a homeowner, you have the right to choose the contractor that performs your insurance restoration work. Some insurance companies have preferred service providers that they strongly recommend, and in some cases, they will even guarantee to back their work if it’s performed incorrectly.
This sounds great on paper until you realize that it is to that contractor’s benefit to perform minimal work as cheaply as possible so that the insurance company continues to send them work. Protect yourself by doing your own homework and not going with the first person that knocks on your door.
Contractors who offer pay your deductible.
In the state of Minnesota, it is illegal for a contractor to pay your insurance deductible. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Labor prohibits the discounting of any insurance restoration work on your home.
Kickbacks or rebates from a contractor are also not permissible. Anyone who offers to do any of this should be reported to the Better Business Bureau or your local department of labor.
In the end remember if you have storm damage, slow down and take your time choosing a contractor as you would any remodeling project. A reputable company will have no issues providing references and any other requested documentation.