Your BBB serving Central California and Inland Empire Counties advises homeowners and other residents affected by the Hunter Fire near Lake McClure to exercise caution when dealing with contractors who may contact them. "Disasters will bring out unscrupulous con men who take advantage of a disaster victim's circumstances in order to make a quick buck," warned Blair Looney, CEO and President of your BBB Serving Central California and Inland Empire Counties.
Below are some BBB tips for the fire victims:
- Contact your insurance adjuster immediately. Not only does this get the ball rolling on the claims process, but you might be eligible for loss-of-use benefits, which means you, could be reimbursed for hotel costs, food, and other living expenses while your house is unlivable.
- Do not make any permanent repairs until you get approval from your insurance company. Your insurer might not fully reimburse you for repairs made without their authorization.
- Be especially alert in dealing with contractors.
- Obtain a written contract.
- Carefully read and understand any warranty offered and watch for provisions that would void it. The lowest bid is not always the best option. Remember, a price is only one criterion for selecting a contractor. Professionalism and quality workmanship also should weigh heavily in your decision.
- Pay the contractor at the end of the job, or pay only for the portion of the job that has been completed.
This fire and many others is a lesson for all residents to take some basic preparedness steps to ease the stress and anguish after disaster strikes
Preparing for a Disaster:
- Create and maintain an inventory of your personal possessions. This includes taking pictures or creating a video, as well as keeping receipts for major items. The inventory should be saved in a safe place outside the home, such as in a safe deposit box at your bank.
- Read your homeowners policy or renters policy carefully, including all the fine print, so you'll know what is and isn't covered, especially what you're entitled to following a disaster and what type of reimbursement or replacement you rate. And make sure you know when the deadline is on filing claims.
Make sure you save your policy numbers and contact information for your insurance company in a safe place.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2013, consumers turned to BBB more than 132 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 112 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.