Get Ready for Hurricane Season to Protect Yourself against Post-storm Scams
Today marks the beginning of hurricane season. This has everyone in the South Florida area and states susceptible to hurricanes to start preparing for the storms. Not only should homeowners and property owners prepare before the storm, but they should also prepare for what happens after the storm is long gone. One of the varmints running rampant post-storms, such as hurricanes, are scam artists trying to scam homeowners out of their money to repair storm damage sustained by homes and other property.
Steps for Post-storm Home Repairs
1. Contact FEMA: If your area is declared a disaster zone, contact FEMA. This is the federal agency involved in helping homeowners to rebuild and get their lives back in order after a natural disaster or other tragedy. Contacting FEMA will give you an idea of what type of help is available to you.
2. Call your insurance agent: Your next phone call should be to your insurance agent. The agent can provide you with specific information on how to file your insurance claim, so be prepared to provide information on any damage that your home and property sustained because of the storm.
3. Shop around for contractors: Contractors tend to get really busy after a storm has hit the area because multiple homeowners are trying to repair their homes. You’ll need to start shopping around for contractors that can complete the home repairs you need completed. You’ll want to schedule appointments for them to come out and provide you with a written estimate. You should obtain at least three estimates for each repair, as well as obtaining and checking client references.
4. Avoid paying in full: Never pay a contractor for any work that is not already complete. This means not paying all of the money for the project upfront either. Instead, have it put into the agreement with the contractor that you will make payments to them based on the completion of the work. For example, break the payments into four stages. Give 25% upfront as a deposit and pay another 25% when the project is approximately 50% complete. When the project is a third of the way done, pay another 25% and the final 25% when the work is completely finished.
5. Protect valuables: While you have contractors working on your home, make sure that you protect any other valuable items and personal documents by securing these items. This helps to eliminate any further loss from theft.
6. Keep a work journal: Use a notebook to write down and keep track of everything the contractor does. This includes the conversations you have with the contractor on a regular basis. The journal will help you in case there is a dispute, but also helps you to track the progress of the project.
Hurricane season is here, so before a storm blows through, get prepared. While you should be making pre-storm preparations, you should also prepare for the post-storm procedures. Preparation upfront can protect you, your home and your property from the scam artists that seem to come out of the woodwork after a natural disaster or tragedy.
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