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CCPD warns homeowners to take care when hiring contractors to make tornado repairs

By Staff | Jan 11, 2016

Both the city of Cape Coral and the Property Casualty Insurers of Association of America warn homeowners affected by Saturday’s tornado to take care when hiring a contractor to make repairs.

“City officials want to stress the importance of not hiring unlicensed contractors to work on homes that have been damaged by the tornado, nor for any other work inside the City limits of Cape Coral,” a released issued by the Cape Coral Police Department on Monday states. “Entering into a contract is a major project for most people and you want to be assured the business you are hiring is legitimate…”

The release from the Property Casualty Insurers of Association of America has similar advice.

“Be careful about unscrupulous contractors following a natural disaster,” the release states. “Contact your insurer, agent or local business bureau for references on potential contractors and ask for certificates of liability and workers compensation before signing contracts.”

Already, Cape Coral homeowners are reporting individuals claiming to be insurance adjusters appearing unannounced at homes with visible damage. Others are reporting the appearance of individuals actually entering garages or just approaching homeowners outdoors in hope of securing repair-related work.

The CCPD offers the following tips for identifying contractors who may not have the proper licensing to perform work in the city:

* Be aware of “special” deals or “this is good only for today.”

* Most contractors will not go door to door looking for business.

* Ask for names and addresses of previous customers.

* They may ask for partial or full payment up front without doing any work. Most companies will collect payment when then the work is completed or during stages of the process.

* Contractors must have State and Local licenses to work in the City of Cape Coral. The license number must be on the work vehicles and contracts they provide to their customers.

* Consumers can check myflorida.com to see if the contractor is licensed or not.

* Residents can also call 239-574-0432 which is the licensing division at City Hall to verify City and State licensing for contractors.

Meanwhile, PCI offers those whose property has suffered damage the following general information, stating the “first step to recovery is contacting your insurer to begin the claims process.”

“Most severe weather related events like hail and tornados are covered under either a homeowners, renters or commercial insurance policy. Renters insurance covers a policyholders’ personal possessions damaged by tornados. Windstorm and hail damage for cars is covered by the comprehensive coverage in an auto insurance policy,” the association states.

PCI’s tornado recovery tips include:

* Secure property from further damage or theft.

* Contact your insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible to report damage.

* Inventory losses and photograph damage to provide to your insurance adjustor. Save receipts.

* If you are a business owner, keep detailed records of business activity that is negatively affected due to the tornado or storm and keep a list of extra expenses during the interruption. Prepare records to show the income from the business before and after the loss.

“Many standard homeowners’ and renters’ policies provide reimbursement of additional living expenses when the property is determined to be uninhabitable due to damage,” the association release advises. “This provision helps with paying for increases to necessary living expenses such as temporary housing and restaurant meals. In addition, extra expenses such as overnight parking and laundry services may also be covered. Additional living expense coverage does not pay for all living expenses, so contact your insurance company or agent for a list of what your policy will cover.”