If You Didn't Request It – Reject It
DES PLAINES, Ill., April 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Each year millions of Americans are subjected to random and often devastating natural disasters. According to the National Weather Service, so far this year, Americans have faced more than 8,000 severe storms, along with still-raging wildfires in Texas and flooding in the Midwest. Sadly, numerous deaths have been reported from these violent storms.
Storms continue to pound the nation and more are inevitable. While the nation's property and casualty insurance companies — nearly 1,100 of them are members of NICB — work hard to get victims back on their financial feet as rapidly as possible, disasters also spawn many darker, more insidious human behaviors in individuals looking to profit from others' tragedies.
After a disaster, professionals will often go door-to-door in neighborhoods which have sustained damage to offer clean up and/or construction and repair services. Most of these business people are reputable, but many are not. The dishonest ones may execute schemes to defraud innocent victims. One such scheme is to pocket the payment and never show up for the job, or never complete a job that was started. Another scheme is to use inferior materials and perform shoddy work not up to code in order to pocket more profit.
Almost all of these scams begin with a knock on the door—an unsolicited visit from a contractor. That is why we say, "If you didn't request it, reject it." If you think you might have damage from a storm, call your insurance company first. Your insurance company will honor its policy and will cover you for losses so there is no need to speak with a contractor who solicits your repair work—especially when you did not request it.
NICB suggests you consider these tips before hiring a contractor:
- Get more than one estimate
- Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules and other expectations should be detailed
- Demand references and check them out
- Ask to see the salesperson's driver's license and write down the license number and their vehicle's license plate number
- Never sign a contract with blanks; unacceptable terms can be added later
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished and ensure reconstruction is up to current code
- Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier
- Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them
- Never let a contractor interpret the insurance policy language
- Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company
If you believe you have been approached by an unlicensed or unscrupulous contractor or adjuster, or have been encouraged to fabricate an insurance claim, contact your insurance company or call the NICB Hotline at 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422). You may also text your information to TIP411, keyword "FRAUD" and remain anonymous if you so desire.
About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $317 billion in insurance premiums in 2010, or approximately 80 percent of the nation's property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 93 percent ($151 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.
SOURCE National Insurance Crime Bureau