When a damaging storm hits, the last thing you should have to worry about is insurance scammers. But they are out there and will try to con you out of money when you are stressed and vulnerable. In fact, The Oklahoma Insurance Commission warned of phone and door-to-door scammers who hit neighborhoods after storm damage in Elk City and Perkins.
Here are six ways to protect against insurance scammers and fraud, according to Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak.
1. Ask for references—and check them. This is a simple initial step, but it could save you a lot. If the potential scam artist cannot or will not provide references or tries to talk you out of checking references, it should be a big red flag.
2. Work only with licensed and insured contractors. You would be surprised at how many times a homeowner doesn’t ask to see the licensing credentials of the contractors they hire. Be vigilant and ask. Take pictures of or jot down their licensing information.
3. Get everything in writing. This is always a good idea, even if you’re dealing with a legitimate service provider. It sets expectations and gives you a document you can refer to in case of a dispute.
4. Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license. Write down their license and plate numbers. Scammers will probably try to avoid providing you with this information.
5. Never sign a contract with blanks. This is the equivalent of endorsing a blank check and handing it to a stranger.
6. Never pay in full until work is completed. This seems like a no-brainer, but con artists can be charming and convincing. Even if they seem above-board and trustworthy, never pay a roofer or sales person in full before the work is done and meets your satisfaction.
It’s also important to find a roofing contractor you know, like, and trust. Once you have identified a trusted contractor, that company can work with your insurance company to ensure your home is repaired correctly and back to new. If a roofer talks about how they can help you make money through your insurance claim, that’s likely a scam that also classifies as insurance fraud.
Follow these tips when approached or called by people who say they represent insurance companies. It may help you avoid losing money to those who prey on storm victims.
If you live in Oklahoma and have questions about contractors, you can call the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 1-800-522-0071. If you live outside the state, you can check the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for your local organization’s contact information.