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TDCI Shares Insurance and Recovery Tips for Storm Victims in Hamilton and Bradley Counties

Department Provides Information To Consumers To Assist With Recovery
Tuesday, April 14, 2020 | 08:57am

NASHVILLE – In the wake of Easter weekend storms that devastated parts of Hamilton and Bradley counties, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) is sharing information about filing insurance claims, selecting contractors, and avoiding financial scams to help affected consumers make a speedier recovery during this difficult time.

“As a longtime Chattanooga resident, my heart breaks at the sight of the destruction the storms caused to my friends and neighbors here in Hamilton and Bradley counties,” said TDCI Commissioner Hodgen Mainda. “In the midst of this tragedy, however, I have also seen the teamwork, compassion, and resilience that truly makes us ‘Chattanooga Strong.’ I want to commend the work of first-responders and emergency personnel who have helped save lives during this tragedy and who prevented this disaster from being worse. By working together, I am certain that we will rebuild our community and one day make it even stronger.”

During the recovery and rebuilding process, TDCI urges consumers to abide by all federal and state health guidelines in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) by following social distancing practices by staying 6 to 10 feet apart, wearing cloth masks in public and practicing good hygiene with frequent hand washing.

To aid in rebuilding efforts, TDCI is providing tips to aid consumers when filing their insurance claims, selecting contractors, and avoiding scammers who might prey on consumers.

FILING INSURANCE CLAIMS

  • File your claim as soon as possible. Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Your policy may require that you make the notification within a certain time frame.
  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses.
  • Document the disaster by taking photographs or video of any damage.
  • Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls).
  • Don’t have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Be prepared to provide your claims adjuster with records of improvements you made prior to the damage.

HIRING A CONTRACTOR

  • Remember that a contractor’s license is required before bidding or price negotiations when the total cost of the project is $25,000 or more.
  • For work less than $25,000, check with your local government’s building codes office to confirm whether a contractor needs a state license or local license to perform home improvement, electrical, plumbing or HVAC work, as well as their permit requirements for inspections.
  • Before selecting a professional, ensure they are properly licensed for the project by visiting verify.tn.gov.
  • Get several bids and check references before committing to a contractor.
  • Be wary of contractors selling repairs door-to-door, especially when they ask to receive payment upfront or offer deep discounts.
  • Generally, do not pay more than 1/3 of the cost upfront and make sure you have the terms of payment in writing.
  • If you are dealing with a company or person who promises to remove debris from your property, ask them to list the services they will provide in writing. Ensure that your contract provides for you to make an inspection and approve the work before making the final payment.

BEWARE OF DISASTER-RELATED SCAMS

While many people seek to help during times of disaster, unfortunately there is also an increased risk for scams and fraud. Watch out for:

  • Upfront fees to help you claim services, benefits, or get loans. No government agency charges application fees.
  • Con artists posing as government employees, insurance adjusters, law enforcement officials, or bank employees. Confirm credentials by calling the agencies if necessary.
  • Organizations with names similar to government agencies or charities.
  • Limited time offers. Don’t be pressured to make a decision on the spot or to sign anything without having enough time to review it.
  • Fake rental listings. If the offer sounds too good to be true or the property owner can’t show you the property beforehand, it’s a bad sign.

To further assist consumers with disaster recovery, the Department offers the following resources:

If you have questions or concerns about filing a claim or about your insurance policies, contact our team at (615) 741-2218 or 1-800-342-4029.

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