Wisconsin has experienced repeated bouts of severe weather in recent weeks, resulting in significant damage to homes and farms throughout the state. Unfortunately, home repair fraud is common after such natural disasters. Here are things to keep in mind when hiring contractors to work on your repairs.
As anxious as you are to repair your home, take time in hiring a contractor. If you feel pressured to sign a contract, step back and do further research.
Make sure the contractor is licensed. Also check with the Better Business Bureau that there are no reports against them. You can also contact Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-422-7128 or DATCPHotline@wisconsin.gov to see if any complaints have been made against them.
Many municipalities have door-to-door sales ordinances. Call to verify that the contractor holds the proper permits.
An Assignment of Benefits (AOB) allows a third party, such as a contractor, to act on behalf of the insured. In doing so, the contractor communicates with and collects payment directly from the homeowner’s insurance company. While this relieves busy homeowners from dealing with the insurance company, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) advises to take great care before signing an AOB. Know that you are not required to sign an AOB to have repairs completed.
- Lien Waivers: A waiver prevents a lien on your property should the contractor not pay their supplier or workers.
- Written Contract: The contract should list exactly what work will be done, what materials will be used, a start and completion date, and warranty information.
- Copy of Contractor’s Liability Insurance: A professional contractor should carry general liability insurance. Without it, the homeowner could be held responsible should the contractor or his employees become injured on the job.
Check with your local building inspector before you start the project to see if a work permit is required. Be sure the work is inspected after it’s completed to verify it’s done correctly. Do this before you make a final payment to the contractor.
Customers have a right to cancel the contract within three business days of being notified that their insurer has denied all or any part of the claim for work.
Keep receipts that document the repair or replacement of anything damaged in the storm.
Storm damage and repairing your home can be stressful. Forward Mutual aims to help you however we can. Give us a call at 920-261-6616.