Due to the continuous storms have brought flooding, strong winds and hail damage throughout Wisconsin, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is advising affected property owners to seek trusted contractors for repairs and to be leery of “storm chasers” that come knocking at your door with aggressive sales tactics.
The Department is advising residents to always use caution when interacting with storm chasers that show up at your door in the aftermath of a storm, never let them into your home, and do not give in to high-pressure pitches.
Residents are being warned to start their search for a contractor by seeking references from neighbors, friends, family, local home builder associations, and your insurance company. Residents can also contact DATCP’s Consumer Protection Hotline (800-422-7128) to check on complaints against a business.
Consider these tips if you seek help with a home repair after a major storm:
- Ask contractors if they are subcontracting your job. If they are, find out who the subcontractor will be and check them out as well.
- Get lien waivers from anyone you pay for home repairs. Lien waivers protect you if the person collecting the money does not pay the suppliers or workers.
- Get a written contract with a start and completion date and warranty information. Also, make certain that the contract states exactly what work is to be done and what materials are to be used. Never rely on a verbal commitment.
- Check with your local building inspector to see if the work requires a permit. Make sure an inspector visits the job site before you make a final payment.
- Request a copy of the contractor’s certificate of liability insurance.
In addition, a Wisconsin state law – “The Storm Chaser Law” – aims to protect consumers, businesses and prevent insurance fraud. Highlights of the law include:
- Contractors cannot promise to pay all or some of a property insurance deductible.
- Contractors cannot represent or negotiate with the customer’s homeowner’s insurer on behalf of the customer. The contractor can, with the consent of the customer, discuss damages and costs with the insurer.
- Before entering into a contract with a customer, the contractor must inquire if the work requested is related to an insurance claim.
- Customers have a right to cancel the contract within three business days of being notified that their insurer has denied all or any part of the claim for work. Contractors must notify customers of this right.