Consumers: Be Prepared and Be Aware of Scam Artists and Unlicensed Activity in the Wake of Storms - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Consumers: Be Prepared and Be Aware of Scam Artists and Unlicensed Activity in the Wake of Storms

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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Insurance

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The weather this holiday weekend could usher in damaging winds and hail from thunderstorms. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department is asking consumers to prepare for potential weather-related damage, but also to be vigilant in the cleanup process.  

Scam artists see weather-related events as opportunities to prey on unsuspecting individuals. Consumers may inadvertently be duped by those who say they can help with your insurance needs, but they are not licensed to do so. Only individuals with a valid insurance license can settle an insurance claim.

Also, be wary of anyone who knocks at your door and offers to do your home repairs. Home-improvement contractors that do more than $5,000 of business per year in Pennsylvania must register with the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau.

To help you through the claims reporting process, here are some helpful tips:     

  • Contact your insurance company immediately to report your loss and file a claim. If you have flood insurance, start by calling your insurance agent. The agent will prepare a "Notice of Loss" form and an adjuster will be assigned to assist you.  Ask for a timeline on when your agent can help you. If you can find your insurance policy, review it so that you understand what is covered. 
  • Take photographs/video before clean-up or repairs. If you have already taken your damaged items out of the house – take pictures of the debris before you dispose of it. After you've documented the damage, make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage.  Do not make any permanent repairs before the adjuster is able to inspect the damage and your carrier approves the repairs. 
  • Save all receipts. Keep a diary of all discussions with your agent or carrier. Cooperate fully with the insurance company.  Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file the claim.
  • Know your options when working with a licensed property claims adjuster. You have the option of working with a company-appointed adjuster or you may choose to use a public adjuster to assist you in filing your claim. Be aware that public adjusters will charge a fee for their services.

To verify if an individual or adjuster is licensed, go to www.insurance.pa.gov and choose "ONLINE RESOURCES" to access the online search. Individuals with questions or complaints can call the department's toll-free, consumer hotline at 877-881-6388.

Media contact: Melissa Fox, 717-787-3289

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