Contractors or Cons

Just last month we had a hail storm in Maryland which caused a significant amount of damage. It also brought the Conman Contractors out of the woodwork.

The vast majority of licensed contractors are conscientious small business owners who take pride in their work and understand that satisfied clients are the best source of future business. A few, however, anxiously await these opportunities and often go door-to-door offering to fix roofs, siding and windows in exchange for hefty down-payments or fees that are substantially larger than necessary. In some cases, there was no damage in the first place and the “CONtractor” never returned to do the work they were paid to do.

When an “authority” tells you there is damage to your home it can be hectic, emotional and disorienting. Your major concern is to get your home repaired. These elements make you very vulnerable to people who specialize in victimization instead of construction and in rip-offs rather
than repairs.

Slow Down And Make Good Decisions

In the unfortunate event of damage, you will be in a hurry to restore your home. It is critically important to avoid contractors who appear on your doorstep offering to start construction.

  • CONtractors may offer to negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company. Non-reputable contractors will claim that if you pay up front for their work, they will make sure your insurance company refunds your money. In reality, they have no way of knowing how much your insurance company is going to reimburse, and no “negotiating” can change that; only a claims adjuster appointed by your insurance company can make those decisions.
  • CONtractors will try to convince you to hire them for the entire repair job, not just immediate spot repairs. Most homeowners’ policies will reimburse you for a “reasonable repair,” which is a temporary repair that ensures no further damage will come to the home. For example, if your roof is leaking and you need to purchase a tarp or pay someone to put plywood over the hole, the insurance company will reimburse you for those expenses. These provisional repairs are deemed as necessary, but permanent repairs are not automatic, and any expenses spent on a permanent repair might not be reimbursed. Don’t be pressured into agreeing to give a contractor the entire job up front. It’s a huge red flag if the contractors insist on being paid for the entire job.
  • CONtractors will be eager to point out damages that aren’t covered and offer to include those repairs in your claim to the insurance company. They are looking for additional work and have no idea if it is covered by your insurance policy. In the worst cases, you may be responsible for the repairs.

Take these precautions to avoid compounding your problems:

  • Call and talk to the insurance professional in our office. We are committed to providing
    genuine help and can often refer you to contractors approved by your insurance company.
  • Refuse to pay any money “up front”; a reputable contractor always works according to a
    written agreement (a legal requirement in Maryland), spelling out cost of materials, labor and
    other important work details.
  • Contact more than one contractor to get competitive estimates.
  • Make sure that any contractor you talk to provides references and proof that they are
    insured (we are happy to review their “Certificate of Insurance” for you).
  • Check references and ask for their Home Improvement Commission license (their “MHIC
    Number”), and check the license number and expiration date. Maryland law requires contractors to display their home improvement license number on all of their home improvement contracts, commercial vehicles and advertisements.
  • Call the Maryland Home Improvement Commission (410-230-6309) or the Better Business
    Bureau (410-347-3990) to ask about complaints filed against a company.
  • Ignore any tactics intended to pressure you into making an immediate financial commitment.

We are here to help, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (410) 377-2111 with your claims questions.