Still reeling from the destruction of Hurricane Ian, residents and homeowners in the storm’s path should now be on alert for fraudulent contractors and other scam artists, Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Tasha Carter and a national insurance group warn.
“Consumers who have already been impacted by Hurricane Ian should also not have to deal with deceptive and unscrupulous tactics perpetrated by scam artists,” Carter said. “I encourage consumers to contact their insurance company first before contracting with a third party, a third party who may not have their best interests in mind.”
The National Crime Insurance Bureaua group of insurance companies, law enforcement and rental car companies estimate that 5-10% of claims after a storm involve fraud, and Ian’s track record could mean up to $6 billion in wrongful claims.
“Recovering from a disaster is a daunting task, and homeowners shouldn’t be victimized twice,” said the NICB President and CEO. David Glawe. “Take the time to check out legitimate contractors, get at least three bids, and never pay a contractor in full until the job is done. Make sure a dishonest contractor doesn’t further complicate your already devastating situation.
For Southwest Florida residents, however, vetting contractors can take time and scarce resources.
From Friday noon, more than a week after Ian arrived in the state, 97,443 homes and businesses in Lee County remain without power. Statewide, that total is over 132,000. More than 1,000 people are displaced by the storm and it could take several weeks or months for the area to stabilize.
Still, the NICB has some tips to help you steer clear of scam contractors after a storm, like getting more than one quote; obtain in writing the costs and estimates for the completion of the work; ensure that a contractor has a state license; do not pay in full until the work is complete; and contact your insurance company before repairs are made.