DON’T BE A VICTIM
Storm season in South Florida poses very real threats. Each year, we face the possibility that severe weather and extreme storms will damage homes and buildings. In the event your property falls victim to these conditions, here are some basic steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Thoroughly photograph and, preferably, video all damaged areas. Photograph and video your entire home inside and out and keep this file in a secured and protected location, so that it can be provided for insurance coverage documentation and comparison, post catastrophic event.
- Contact your insurance provider and request they inspect the damage. In times of catastrophe, insurance providers will not be able to get to all damaged properties in a timely fashion. Hence, the photography will be vitally important to your claim.
- Be wary of unsolicited repair companies offering to complete your repairs – especially at a discount.
- Obtain license numbers of any contractor you are considering hiring and confirm with the state, your local municipality and county that they are currently licensed to perform the scope of work they are being hired to do.
Quick check: Go to www.sunbiz.com and enter the contractor’s name. If they are legitimate, their name will show up. Click on the name and it will tell you if they are “Active” or “Inactive.” Never use a contractor that doesn’t show up on sunbiz.com as “Active.”
- Request the contractor supply you proof of insurance prior to signing any agreements for work to be performed. Once you have signed a contract for the work, request a “Certificate of Insurance” be issued in your name, listing you “as additional insured” and the address of the damaged property. Do not proceed with any work until you have a Certificate of Insurance for general liability and workman’s compensation verified with the issuing Insurance company.
- Prior to paying any deposits, make sure they are all listed in your contract agreement. Do not give large deposits; 10-20% is standard.
Sadly, scammers appear when we are most vulnerable. It is truly wise to do business with those you know. To check the licensure and validity of companies, visit www.myfloridalicense.com, www.sunbiz.com, www.bbb.org; or call the Attorney General hotline at 1-866-9-no scam.