AUSTIN – Disasters like the violent storms that struck North Texas last month can often attract people looking to take advantage of the situation.
The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has sent investigators to the area to help deter fraud, which can include shoddy repairs, price gouging, or even just taking money.
Here are some tips from TDI for hiring a contractor for home repairs:
Call your insurance company first to get advice on what repairs should cost.
Use local companies and check their references and contact numbers.
Get written estimates, which should be on the company's official letterhead with clear contact information.
Get more than one bid. This will help you determine which offers are legitimate and which may be too high or too good to be true.
Do not pay for repairs in advance. While legitimate contractors typically require a partial payment up front, your final payment should be made after the job is finished.
Call the police if you feel threatened or pressured.
Another concern is fraudulent activity by licensed public insurance adjusters and unauthorized individuals or entities acting as public insurance adjusters. Texas law prohibits public adjusters from participating in the repair process to prevent conflicts of interest.
If you have information about insurance fraud, file a complaint with TDI’s Fraud Unit online at www.tdi.texas.gov/fraud/index.html or by calling 800-252-3439. You can also file complaints against businesses with the Texas Attorney General’s Office at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or by calling 800-252-8011.
Our twice-weekly e-newsletter provides a quick overview of Texas real estate markets. Because your time is valuable.