Avoid Contractor Scams After a Storm

After a significant weather event, homeowners may have to manage property damage and a complicated recovery process.  While it is natural for a homeowner to want to get back on their feet and return to a sense of normalcy as quickly as possible, it is essential that the homeowner be thorough and diligent in navigating the recovery process.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who may seek to take advantage of hardship after a severe storm. With that in mind, we want to alert homeowners about possible contractor scams.

Understanding Contractor Scams

Amid the clutter, rubble, and flood waters that severe storms may leave behind, fraudulent contractors may be among the most dangerous perils lurking about. These contractors target property owners by offering to provide repairs while demanding payment upfront. However, once paid, these scammers may provide subpar or incomplete work, use stolen materials and equipment, or simply disappear and abandon the client altogether.

Identifying Suspicious Behavior

Like most scams, property owners can protect themselves from fraudulent contractors by understanding various warning signs. Following a severe storm, homeowners should beware of contractors whose actions include the following:

  • Unannounced arrival on the premises
  • Providing estimates that differ significantly from other offers Requesting a sizable portion of the estimate upfront
  • Compiling estimates as a single lump sum rather than providing a list of costs for various tasks
  • Asking property owners to endorse insurance checks or insisting on submitting claims on their behalf
  • Failing to provide references or a fixed address for their business

Avoiding Fraudulent Contractors

Homeowners should always be diligent and thorough while shopping for products and services. This is of even greater importance when potentially dealing with fraudulent contractors. The following steps can help reduce the likelihood of being scammed:

  • Ask around. Checking references and researching possible complaints is important. It may be advisable to avoid contractors that do not regularly work in the area if you are unable to find adequate information about them. Employing a well-known, local contractor can reduce your risk of being scammed.
  • Use a claims adjuster. It’s best for policyholders to check with their insurance companies and have a claims adjuster inspect any storm-related damages. Insurers may also be able to help review contracts.
  • Avoid cash payments. If a contractor proves to be fraudulent, it’s easier to track them and establish payment records if checks and credit cards are used. If cash is required for any reason, make sure to receive a signed receipt or proof of payment.
  • Check documentation. Property owners should request proof of a contractor’s insurance and make sure that your copy of the contract matches the contractor’s copy.  Ask about any subcontractors that will be involved in the job and ask for documentation of their insurance coverages as well.
  • Beware of phone calls. If called by someone claiming to be a contractor, it’s best to be cautious and avoid providing personal or financial information without first verifying their identity. If a caller says they are a government official, hanging up and calling the number listed on the website of the agency they claim to be with is advisable.


The aftermath of a natural disaster, including catastrophic weather events, can be stressful and overwhelming. Unfortunately, many unethical contractors may see homeowners recovering from a natural disaster as easy targets. With that in mind, homeowners that have suffered storm-related losses must be vigilant and avoid making hasty decisions that could exacerbate their problems.

For more information or guidance, contact RMC Group today to speak with a licensed insurance professional at 239-298-8210.

© 2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved. This article is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.