Experts: Tips to avoid post-storm scams

Do research before hiring contractors

INDIANAPOLIS - The tornadoes that hit Oklahoma in May damaged Kelly Worner's home, and it wasn't the first time she'd endured storm damage.
In 1999, she was knee-deep in cleanup too, when an EF-5 tornado struck.

Following a storm, contractors tend to flood damaged neighborhoods looking for work. Some are helpful, but some are frauds.

Worner said she learned that lesson the hard way back in 1999.

"My contractor forged his credentials, forged his recommendations," she said. "I would not make that mistake again."

Angie's List sees it time and time again -- contractors asking for money up front and promising to do jobs that they don't follow through with.

Angie Hicks, with Angie's List, says it's more important than ever to do the research when hiring a contractor.

"Make sure they are licensed, insured, bonded if necessary, so that you can be sure that you are getting the best company that's going to stand behind the work," Hicks said.

Homeowners should also ask for a complete walk-through so they don't miss any damage.

"I had a client who had a window blown out, but everything else was OK, but when I got up there, he had a basketball-sized hole in his roof in one area and two softball-sized holes in another area," said contractor David Fonzi.

Getting three estimates is the general rule when hiring a contractor, and homeowners are encouraged to get all of the details of the plan ahead of time, including price.

Knowing the particulars of a home insurance policy before the storm hits is important. Homeowners should avoid hiring a company that offers to pay the deductible -- in some states, that is considered insurance fraud.

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