Commissioner McPeak Offers Storm Repair and Contractor Tips
NASHVILLE, TN – Earlier this week, storms and tornados ravaged the southeast and today, communities across Tennessee begin to recover and repair the damage. Tennessee’s Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak offers recovery and repair tips for individuals affected by destructive weather.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families across the southeast affected by the recent storms,” McPeak said. “The first step in the rebuilding process is to assess the situation, inventory all of the missing or damaged items, take pictures of any damage and contact your insurance company. Individuals who need help contacting an adjuster are encouraged to contact the TDCI Consumer Insurance Services Section at 615-741-2218 or to at 1-800-342-4029.”
If a contractor is needed to repair the damage, the TDCI Division of Regulatory Boards reminds Tennesseans to ensure that they are working with a reputable professional by verifying all licenses with the Board for Licensing Contractors or through verify.tn.gov.
“We encourage individuals to vet contractors through verify.tn.gov or through the Board for Licensing Contractors before signing on the dotted line,” Regulatory Boards Assistant Commissioner Bill Giannini said. “Never pay cash and always, ALWAYS, verify before you pay any money!”
The Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) offers the following tips to homeowners for interacting with insurance companies and selecting contractors:
- As soon as possible after an event affects your home, assess damage. Locate a copy of your home insurance policy and read through it. Weigh contacting your insurance carrier or your agent. (Note: Frequently filing claims could affect your coverage.)
- If you decide to contact your insurer, make a thorough inventory of all of the items missing from or damaged in your home for your adjuster.
- Take pictures, if possible, of all damage – inside and outside, from several angles – to get full documentation before any repairs are made.
- Secure and protect your property against further rain or other damage as much as possible without making permanent repairs, so that the adjuster can document the full extent of the damage,
- Keep all receipts for expenses regarding protecting your property from further damage.
- Follow the claims-filing procedure set forth in your policy. If there is a dispute, follow the company’s dispute process.
- Many larger companies have quick-response teams that come into areas of heavy damage to process large numbers of claims as quickly as possible. Others will not send someone out unless you call them. Call your company to be sure.
- Individuals with insurance issues are encouraged to call the TDCI Consumer Insurance Services Section at 1-800-342-4029.Remember that unscrupulous, unlicensed contractors often take advantage of homeowners anxious to rebuild after disasters. Consumers should verify a professional’s license status by calling 800-544-7693, or online at verify.tn.gov.
- If you need to hire a contractor, don't pay more than one-third of the total cost in advance, never pay cash, and don't allow payments to precede the work. In some circumstances, using a credit card can offer additional security.
- Always get a written contract before agreeing to any work and independently confirm the contractor’s contact information. Make sure the contractor’s name, address and telephone number on the contract is legitimate. The contract should include: terms of payment; materials to be used; labor performed; an anticipated start and completion date; requirements for local permits and inspections; warranty terms; and make sure there is a right to cancel without any penalties.
Consumers can find great contractor related resources on the Board for Licensing Contractors consumer resources page at 1.usa.gov/mQF7s0. Again, the State encourages Tennesseans to regularly visit and utilize verify.tn.gov, which is the license database for dozens of professions (including home contractors). Consumers can and should check the license status of any contractor they consider hiring, not just ones from out of state. They also can find the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’s list of problem contractors at 1.usa.gov/p3ar2C and the monthly disciplinary actions report posted at 1.usa.gov/oaY9Yo.
The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for daily TDCI tips!