NICB Warns Consumers To Be Wary Of Deceitful Contractors and Scammers

DES PLAINES, IL OCTOBER 6, 2022 — As Hurricane Ian leaves a path of destruction in its wake, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the insurance industry's association dedicated to predicting, preventing, and prosecuting insurance crime, is warning disaster victims to stay vigilant against dishonest contractors and scammers.

Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc across wide stretches of land, leaving untold numbers of homeowners to the daunting task of rebuilding their homes and lives. According to NICB analysis, fraud accounts for approximately 5-to-10 percent of all insurance claims filed. With that in mind, fraud-related claims could account for $3-6 billion of the total claims submitted following Hurricane Ian - a cost transferred to policyholders through their annual insurance premiums.

“Recovering from a disaster is an intimating task, and homeowners should not be victimized twice,” said NICB President and CEO David Glawe. “Take time to vet legitimate contractors, get at least three bids, and never pay a contractor in full before the work is complete. Ensure that a dishonest contractor is not further complicating your already devastating situation.”

“Consumers who have already been impacted by Hurricane Ian should not also have to deal with deceptive, unscrupulous tactics perpetrated by scammers,” said Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate Tasha Carter. “I encourage consumers to first contact their insurance company before contracting with any third party, a party that may not have their best interest in mind.”

Downloadable Hurricane Specific Graphics
Post-Disaster Contractor FraudPost-Disaster Tips

https://www.nicb.org/media/3095/download

Downloadable General Disaster Graphics
Contractor Fraud Prevention Tips | Common Signs of Fraudulent Contractors | What Does Contractor Fraud Look Like?Post-Disaster Resources 

Contractor Fraud Prevention Tips

Before hiring a contractor, call your insurance company. There is no need to rush into an agreement with a contractor who solicits your repair work, especially if it was not requested.

NICB SUGGESTS YOU CONSIDER THESE TIPS BEFORE HIRING A CONTRACTOR:

  • Get more than one estimate.  
  • Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedules, guarantees, payment schedules, and other expectations should be detailed and itemized.  
  • Request references and do the research.  
  • Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license and write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number.  
  • Look out for out-of-state contractor licenses, as well as vehicle registrations, as these may also indicate possible fraudulent contractors.   
  • Never sign a contract with blanks; terms you don’t agree with can be added later.  
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished. 
  • Ensure reconstruction is up to current code.  
  • Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier. Signing an Assignment of Benefits agreement transfers your insurance rights to the contractor. Know what that means for you. 
  • Never let a contractor pressure you into making a quick decision or hiring them.  
  • Never let a contractor interpret the language of your insurance policy.  
  • Never let a contractor discourage you from contacting your insurance company. Contact your insurance company first.
  • Remember, if you didn’t request it, reject it!

Also, check out Insurance Consumer Advocate (ICA) Carter’s Demolish Contractor Fraud: Steps to Avoid Falling Victim.

Furthermore, some deceitful contractors will state they are supported by the government. However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency does not endorse individual contractors or loan agencies. Always request official identification from those claiming to represent governmental agencies. Consumers should call FEMA for more specifics at (800) 621-FEMA.

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, call the NICB at 1-800-TEL-NICB or report it here.

Media Contact

If you have a question, want further information on the NICB, or to discuss insurance fraud or vehicle crime, please contact:

Chris Stroisch
Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications
847.450.9814
cstroisch@nicb.org

Or, if you are a reporter and have a request or question, please complete the Media Request Form.

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on our website.

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to combatting and preventing insurance crime through Intelligence, Analytics, and Operations; Education and Crime Prevention; and Strategy, Policy, and Advocacy. The NICB is supported by more than 1,200 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $582 billion in insurance premiums in 2021, or more than 82% of the nation's property-casualty insurance. That includes more than 96% of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more, visit www.nicb.org.