Hurricanes and storms can cause catastrophic damage. If your property, including your home or business, was in the path of a hurricane, you need to know the tips for hiring contractors after the storm. If your residential or commercial property suffered damage due to the storm, consider speaking with an attorney to protect your rights and help you understand your options to recover as much as possible when filing an insurance claim. Reach out to the experienced Florida insurance lawyer at Stabinski Law for a case evaluation. Call 305-643-3100.
What You Need to Know About Hiring Contractors After the Storm
People in Florida are no strangers to the destructive damages caused by hurricanes, particularly those resulting from storm surges, heavy rainfall, high winds, and other hazards. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida is the most vulnerable state to storm surges.
Before hiring contractors to repair or fix your damaged property, you need to understand this: Many providers scam and take advantage of vulnerable property owners during the hurricane season.
That is why home and business owners should be on guard for price gouging when dealing with contractors after the storm. To make sure that you are hiring a contractor who will do a good job and will charge reasonable fees for their services, only hire contractors from reputable and established companies in your area.
When hiring contractors to deal with after-storm damage, do your research to make sure that the contractor you hire has completed a sufficient number of projects and has references in your city or county. Preferably, the contractor’s company should have a local office in your area.
10 Questions to Ask a Contractor Before Hiring Them to Perform Repairs
When hiring contractors to do work after the storm, there are certain questions you should ask to ensure that you hire the right person to perform repairs:
- How long have you been in business?
- Does your company perform repairs of this kind?
- Have you ever worked with insurance claims?
- Will you do the repairs all by yourself or will you hire subcontractors?
- Have you ever done similar projects?
- Who will be the on-site project manager?
- Does your company provide liability and/or workers’ compensation insurance in the event of accidents?
- Do you have a list of references for projects in our area in the past 6-12 months?
- What happens if my insurance claim is denied?
- Are any permits required for this particular project?
Consider visiting with the experienced legal team at Stabinski Law to help you formulate and ask even more detailed questions regarding your storm damage repairs.
8 Tips For Hiring Contractors After The Storm
Follow these tips when hiring contractors to perform repairs to make sure that you do not get scammed.
1. Get a Full Property Damage Inspection
It is advisable to conduct a full property damage inspection before hiring contractors for the job. Before you hire anyone, it is a good idea to get at least three estimates from different contractors in your area.
2. Stay Away from Door-to-Door Contractors
Have you ever noticed an increase in the number of phone calls from contractors offering their services after a natural disaster? A contractor may also stop by your home and offer to perform repairs. These door-to-door contractors take advantage of those who have recently been victimized by the storm and offer their services for a seemingly reasonable price to make homeowners feel forced to make a quick decision. Stay away from door-to-door contractors because these contractors are usually not qualified to do the job well.
3. Check a Contractor’s Referrals
Do not hesitate to request references from a contractor and make sure that the person is licensed to perform repairs in the state of Florida. If the contractor will hire subcontractors to delegate some of the work to them, check the credentials of every subcontractor.
4. Do Not Sign Assignment of Benefits Before Considering Speaking with a Lawyer
Assignment of Benefits is a formal agreement between a contractor and a homeowner that transfers the homeowner’s insurance policy benefits and rights to the contractor. However, signing Assignment of Benefits can affect your ability to collect on your insurance claim, which is why you might want to consider consulting with an attorney before signing anything.
If there is coverage for the loss, contractors are required to look for any damage that is covered under the policy, whether it is pointed out to them by the insured or not.
5. Get All Estimates in Writing
A contractor may need to hire other professionals to determine the scope of the repairs and estimate the losses. Get all estimates from your contractor in writing. Ideally, you may want to get estimates from at least three qualified contractors when searching for the right contractor for damage repairs after the storm.
6. Stay Calm
Looking for contractors and getting them to do their job well can be a stressful and frustrating process. However, you should stay calm throughout the process. You do not want your judgment to be clouded by emotions or hasty decisions. Do not be pressured into making quick decisions. If necessary, take your time to consult with an insurance lawyer at Stabinski Law to ensure that you understand all of your options.
7. Obtain Receipts for Everything
Request and keep receipts for all payments made to the contractors. If a contractor asks you to pay for their services upfront (a deposit) before performing any repairs, this could be a major red flag. Do not pay a deposit unless you or someone you trust has previously worked with that contractor and their company has a good reputation and references in your area.
8. Determine if You Need Temporary Repairs
Often, homeowners and business owners need to make temporary repairs to their property to prevent further damage. However, your insurance company may not cover the cost of temporary repairs, which is why you might want to consider speaking with an attorney to explore your options.
Note: Under Fla. Stat. § 627.7142, homeowners must make and document any temporary or emergency repairs that are necessary to prevent further damage to the property.