Protect yourself from fraud when hiring contractors to repair storm damagePosted on May 18, 2016
(Louisville, KY) – Many homeowners impacted by the series of strong storms that have swept through Kentucky this month are now in need of contractors to repair damaged homes or clean up fallen debris. Selecting the right one to do the job can be the tricky part. Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company urges its members and all Kentuckians to seek out reputable, local contractors for any home repair project.
When major storms hit – like last week’s devastating tornado that touched down in Mayfield, KY, or the severe wind and hail damage that battered Owensboro and many other communities – it is not unusual for storm-chasing contractors to arrive on the scene looking for work. Hiring these out-of-state contractors can be risky, but homeowners can help prevent themselves from becoming the next victim of repair fraud by doing a little extra research before agreeing to pay for any services.
“Roofing and handyman contractors are great resources for homeowners who don’t have the abilities or the know-how to repair storm damage,” said Rob Payne, KFB Insurance’s Vice President of Claims, “but selecting the right one is very important. You have to do your homework before hiring a contractor.”
Homeowners should run through a basic checklist with each contractor they interview before agreeing to their terms of service. Kentucky’s Attorney General and his Office of Consumer Protection encourage consumers needing home repair work or cleanup services to follow these important tips before selecting a contractor:
- Deal only with reputable, established firms. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations.
- Get written estimates from at least three different contractors. Make sure all costs are covered in the estimate including the down payment, finance charges, building permit fees, installation costs and all materials.
- Request names of past customers and contact them to find out if they were satisfied.
- Never select a contractor who has not come to your home to assess the job.
- Ask questions about what methods or material will be used, when work will begin, how long before the job is completed and what method of payment is required.
- Insist on getting a written, detailed contract.
- Don’t let a persuasive seller push you into signing a contract on the spot until you have received several estimates and are completely sure of the contract terms.
- You may be asked to sign documents other than the contract. Read these papers thoroughly so you know exactly what you are signing.
It is also important to note that per Kentucky House Bill 421 (the “storm chaser” roofing law passed in 2012), consumers may cancel a roofing contract within five days of signing it if they receive notice from their insurer that all or part of a claim is not covered by insurance.
There are additional regulations that all roofing contractors must follow as well. A roofing contractor:
- Is required to provide homeowners with a valid mailing address, phone number and specific notice of the consumer’s cancellation rights.
- Cannot require advance payment until the five-day cancellation period has expired, but can be paid for completed emergency repairs.
- Is prohibited from offering to pay for or rebate an insurance deductible.
- May not grant a discount or pay any compensation greater than $100 as a bonus, coupon, credit, gift or referral fee for services rendered.
For additional information or to file a consumer protection complaint, call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257 or visit ag.ky.gov.