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Be cautious in dealing with contractors on storm damage

After a major storm, you might notice roving contractors going door-to-door telling people that they may not know it, but their home has storm damage and their insurance company will pick up the tab for the repairs. • While insurance companies are paying some claims, they're warning homeowners to be cautious in dealing with contractors who are making the sales pitches. There have been reports of problems with storm-chasers in several states. • Here's the golden rule: Don't make a move without contacting your insurance agent. If you do have damage you don't know about, your insurance company will verify it and pay the claim according to your policy. Make sure you understand your responsibility for any deductible, and ask whether the claim could affect your future premiums. • Here's some advice from Allstate Insurance:

• Take your time in choosing a contractor to repair your home.

• Get estimates from several licensed, bonded contractors.

• Check their credentials with your local Better Business Bureau or Home Builders Association.

• Inspect contractors' licenses and proof of liability insurance.

• Get a contract in writing.

• Avoid paying money up front. Some reputable contractors will require partial, up-front payment, but these pre-work payments shouldn't exceed the cost of materials or 20 percent of the total estimate.

• Follow local building codes and inspection procedures.

• If anyone performs unauthorized work on your house or property and demands payment, consider contacting authorities.

• Don't sign over an insurance settlement check to the contractor.

• Immediately report any suspicious behavior to your police, sheriff's office or your state's Department of Insurance.

Be cautious in dealing with contractors on storm damage 08/10/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 9, 2010 3:08pm]
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