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HomeNewsGaylord area residents should watch for tornado repair scammers

Gaylord area residents should watch for tornado repair scammers

Contact your insurance agent

GAYLORD – As the Gaylord area recovers from the devastating tornado of May 20, it’s important for people who need repairs to their homes and businesses to be careful, as scammers try to take advantage of these tragedies.

If you have suffered damage to your home or vehicle, the first thing you should do is contact your insurance agent, said Michael Ignat, Agent at Houghton Lake Insurance.

“Reach out to the people who you work with every day,” Ignat said. “They will protect the interests of you and your family. Try not to react to the situation at hand because your home is damaged.”

Ignat emphasized that storm victims should be careful about people who ask for money up front for immediate repairs.

“People who do this generally aren’t licensed or insured,” Ignat said. “And if they aren’t licensed to do a specific kind of work, insurance companies probably won’t pay above $600.”

Ignat emphasized a couple of points, noting that contractors will have their insurance agent/agency provide a certificate of liability for the type of work they are licensed to conduct.  

“Now is when you see a lot of fraudulent certificates,” he said. “Call the agency that is listed on the certificate and confirm the contractors’ liability/workers compensation insurance.”

Things to remember:

  • Do not use anyone demanding money up front
  • Avoid people who show up with multiple workers but fail to produce evidence of worker’s compensation. If someone is hurt on your property you could be liable for those damages
  • Don’t sign anything without consulting your agent
  • Call the police if you are feeling pressured.

One of the key issues at the moment is downed trees. Just because someone shows up with a chain saw doesn’t mean they are licensed to do that work. And you could be held liable if they are injured on your property.

Scammers can normally be identified if they:

  • Come to your door unexpectedly
  • Want a large down payment
  • Accept only cash or check
  • Drive an unmarked vehicle
  • Fail to notify you of your right to cancel

If your property suffered tornado damage, here are a few things you should know about debris cleanup safety, scams and insurance claims:

  • Take photos. You have the right make temporary repairs for the safety and well-being of your household.
  • Always use a licensed and insured contractor for your trade. For example, you need roofing work done, be sure the company you hire is specifically licensed to do that specific kind of work. Or your insurance company may not cover those repairs.

When preparing your home for inspection by your insurance company

  • Inspect your home for damage
  • Prepare an inventory and take photographs of damaged property
  • Store undamaged property in a protected place if possible
  • Cover broken windows and other holes to prevent further damage
  • If power is out, disconnect all computers and appliances from electrical sources
  • Be present when the adjuster inspects your damage
  • The Better Business Bureau contributed to this article.

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