After a disaster a contractor knocks on your door, offering to help you rebuild what you lost, and they say they will handle your insurance claim for you for no additional costs. The contractor is willing to appraise the damages, provide you with an estimate, file your claim, and be paid directly by your insurance company. This takes the stress of dealing with your insurance company out of your hands, and you can just kick back and relax as your home gets repaired. The problem is, this is too good to be true.
Following a disaster, scammers have been known to approach people, claiming to handle everything for them. Unfortunately, they are not the solution to your problem. They have been known to charge you a large fee and vanish, direct you to a dishonest contractor who will do a subpar job on the repairs, file false claims on your behalf, gather information on you for identity theft, and more.
Scammers like this are always around, but they tend to come out in droves following a large-scale natural disaster, when there are more targets available for them to choose from. You may be feeling desperate to get your home repaired so you can move on with your life after a hurricane, and they prey upon that.
There are some warning signs for a fraudulent contractor to look out for:
· They show up at your home unannounced
- Give you an estimate that is overly high or low in comparison to others
- Give a lump sum estimate that is not itemized
- Offer you a discount because they have extra materials from their last job
- Ask for a bunch of money upfront
- Ask you to endorse your insurance check to them
- Do not provide references
- Do not have a business address or do not normally operate in your area
Contractors Are Not Public Adjusters
Even if the contractor who is offering to help with your insurance claim is not scamming you, contractors are licensed to help you rebuild, not to handle an insurance claim; they do not have the training or expertise that a public adjuster has when it comes to negotiating with an insurance company. They are also not legally allowed to negotiate an insurance claim on someone’s behalf, since they have no certification or training in the field.
In fact, the state of Florida prohibits someone from acting as both your public adjuster and your contractor, since it is considered to be a conflict of interest. According to Florida Statute 626.8795: “A public adjuster may not participate, directly or indirectly, in the reconstruction, repair, or restoration of damaged property that is the subject of a claim adjusted by the licensee; may not engage in any other activities that may be reasonably construed as a conflict of interest, including soliciting or accepting any remuneration from, of any kind or nature, directly or indirectly; and may not have a financial interest in any salvage, repair, or any other business entity that obtains business in connection with any claim that the public adjuster has a contract or an agreement to adjust.”
A public adjuster is the only one who is completely on your side during your insurance claim. They want you to succeed and get the maximum payment your insurance company owes you. Hiring a public adjuster is highly beneficial to your insurance claim, and they can negotiate on your behalf, helping to lift some of the stress off of your shoulders.