During a catastrophe, high winds and floods aren’t the only storm dangers to watch out for. Customers can quickly become victims of fraud schemes that could leave them, once again, victimized.
Be On the Lookout – Fraudulent Contractors
One of the toughest things to find following a catastrophe is a contractor; there just aren’t enough of them to do the work. This is where disaster fraud can occur; the lack of available contractors gives rise to dishonest, fraudulent impostors.
Types of Fraudulent Contractors
- The Door-to-Door Salesman: This contractor makes cold calls soon after the storm.
- The Magician: This contractor disappears after you pay for work he has not completed.
- The Destruction Worker: This contractor causes more harm than good to your property.
- The Fast Talker: This contractor has you sign over the insurance check to them.
- The Bad Influence: This contractor acts like they want to “help you out” by being dishonest with your insurance company about the cost.
- The Shoddy Craftsman: This contractor uses sub-par materials to save money and increase profits, and/or perform work that is not up to code.
Tips to Avoid Disaster Fraud
- Trust Your Insurance Company
- Call your insurance company before hiring a contractor.
- Don’t let the contractor interpret your insurance policy or convince you not to call your insurance company.
- Do Your Homework
- Use your insurance carrier’s preferred contractor program. Westfield maintains a list/database of prescreened and thoroughly vetted contractors.
- Only work with licensed contractors.
- Require references.
- Get multiple estimates.
- Request to see a contractor’s driver’s license and write down their license plate number.
- Ask contractor for a physical business location and permanent phone number.
- Protect Your Assets
- Get everything in writing including cost, work and schedule.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is completed.
- Do not make full payments before the work is complete.
Resources to Identify Fraud
Westfield is proud to have our Insurance Operations Leader, Mike Prandi, Chair the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
Do you feel you have been a victim of insurance fraud? Contact the NICB Fraud Hotline or visit nicb.org/speak_up. Westfield policy holders may report fraud by contacting (800) 654-6482.
Additional steps to avoid becoming a victim of a post-disaster scam, visit Florida DBPR.