Following the flood, winds, and related damage from Hurricane Irene,
Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company has made their suggestions regarding the best ways to ensure that homeowners are protecting themselves against scams from unscrupulous contractors.
The suggestions made by the insurer include the following:
• Don’t rush when making the choice for the right contractor – take your time and do your homework.
• Obtain estimates from a number of contractors who are licensed and bonded.
• Verify the contractors claims regarding their credentials through the use of the Better Business Bureau and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
• Have a look at the licenses the contractor claims to have, as well as some proof of the contractor’s liability insurance.
• Obtain a written copy of the estimate and contract.
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• Pay as little money up-front as possible. Though some contractors who are indeed reputable will require some up-front payment, you should never pay more than the materials or 20 percent of the total cost before the work begins.
• Follow the local inspection procedures and building codes.
• If you discover anyone performing work on your property that is unauthorized and then demands payment for this work, think about contacting your local authorities.
• If the contractor presents you with an insurance settlement check, never sign it.
• If there is any kind of suspicious behavior, report it immediately to the state Division of Consumer Affairs.
According to the president of the insurer, Bill Ballinger, “It is not uncommon for unscrupulous contractors to take advantage of people who have experienced a catastrophic event.”