Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance inside story blog logoIndiana Farm Bureau Insurance Inside Story Blog Logo

by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance

How to select a reputable contractor after severe weather

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance after the unexpected, expect us sign in front of a home in Indiana after severe weather

You may have heard the joke, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes.” Though that is a lighthearted exaggeration, it is not far off the mark in Indiana. So far, in just March, Hoosiers have seen ice, snow, thunderstorms, hail, several 70-degree days and gusting winds. As Hoosiers know, the weather can turn on a dime, which is why the threat of severe storms is serious. 


How to select a reputable contractor after severe weather 


There are many things you can do to be prepared for severe weather. Additionally, there are steps for a safe and speedy recovery after tragedy strikes, including reporting a claim. When you’ve suffered a loss, you may also be vulnerable. Unfortunately, there are companies out there that want to take advantage of your predicament. So how do you know what storm contractor and storm restoration company to use? 


How do I find a contractor after a storm? 


Unfortunately, when there is a storm with widespread damage, some contractors will start to come out of the woodwork and go door to door in your neighborhood. You’ll have no shortage of options, but how do you narrow them down? Most importantly, take your time and do your research. Do not let a contractor rush you to a decision. Ask your friends, family and neighbors if they’ve worked with any companies they would recommend. Though not required, look for local, well-established companies, as opposed to those that are looking for work in affected areas. Your insurance company will also have contractors they can refer you to. 


Do I have to use a contractor that my insurance company recommends? 


“We work with contractors that we have an established relationship with where we feel confident that they will treat our customers the same way we do,” said Darrin Walton, executive director of claims. “Though we do not recommend any company, we will refer you to those companies that have a long, positive history of serving our clients.” 


Though most insurance companies have several contractors and storm restoration companies they work with regularly, you are free to choose any contractor or company you’d like to complete work on your covered claim. 


Should I use a local company or a larger out-of-state company? 


You should make sure the company has a local office. Being out of state is not necessarily bad, but you do want to make sure they can do the work. Local companies often have access to resources that an out-of-state vendor would have to order. They could take longer to do the work and if there is a problem, it may be hard to get them back to Indiana to see your property to fix issues or make additional repairs.  


Walton added, “They may have the manpower to knock on 1,000 doors, but do they have the staff to complete your repairs in a timely and correct manner? You want someone you can trust and will make the repair process as easy as possible.”  


Warning signs that a contractor may not have the best intentions 


There is no replacement for doing your research, and the Office of the Indiana Attorney General offers many resources, including a publication with ways to “Protect yourself from storm chaser scams.” The National Insurance Crime Bureau provides recommendations for avoiding contractor fraud, as well as steps for reporting fraudulent activities. These are just some ideas to avoid becoming a victim. Remember, if you feel like something is off or wrong about the company, their contract or their promises, don’t move forward with them. 


How do I vet a contractor? 


Once you have a contractor or two that you are comfortable with, it is important to make sure they are legitimate. There are steps you can take to find information about companies. You may contact the Indiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and the Better Business Bureau to see if the companies have any complaints or negative reviews. You’ll also want to ensure they are licensed, bonded and insured. Don’t be afraid to ask for references or to see previous work they’ve completed. Ask if they work with your insurance company and have experience handling insurance claims. 


“Claim time is anxious and unknown. People are emotional and vulnerable,” Walton said. “It’s just sad to see those that are at their most vulnerable getting taken advantage of.” 


If you need to review your insurance to make sure you have proper coverage in place before a disaster strikes, Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance can help.