Repairing your home after Ike
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Now that the storm has passed and you've probably experienced damage, it is time to talk to the insurance company.
Experts say you need to get temporary repairs made to protect your property now before you get the insurance company involved. They advise you do not wait to contact an insurance adjustor.
However when it comes to large permanent repairs do not rush.
If you can't contact your local agent, try the national hotline for the insurance company. You can also search the following to learn your flood insurance company:
Contacting your insurance carrier
Flood insurance companies in Texas
National Flood Insurance Helpline at 1-800-395-7496
Texas Windstorm Insurance Association at 1-512-899-4900
Before you start your work, make sure to take pictures of the damage. Document with photos or video anything you change before the insurance representative sees it in person. Save samples of things like carpet so you are sure to get the same quality when it is replaced.
Experts say you want to be careful when hiring a contractor. After major hurricanes like Ike, contractors usually swarm the affected regions. History shows not all of these contractors will be reputable. The Better Business Bureau warns consumer against hiring contractors who go door to door through a neighborhood. You can check the Better Business Bureau site at bbbhou.org to see a contractor's history.
Independent insurance agent Brian Kapiloff suggests you only make a 5 to 10% deposit on the contractor's bid.
"If they are asking for a really large deposit, that is a red flag," Kapiloff said.
He also suggests not paying with cash. Paying with a check or credit card lets you be able to trace the payments.
Once you have made the deposit, Kapiloff said the insurance company should step in to handle the rest of the payment.
"This is just to get the work started, to give them a deposit, so they agree to take your job because [the contractors] are going to have more work than they know what to do with," he said.
Besides contractors soliciting your business, Kapiloff says beware of people who want to represent you to the insurance company. These types of representatives are called public adjustors. Some attorneys might also want to represent you.
"My advice is to be leery of anyone who is soliciting that type of business," Kapiloff said. "Try to handle your claim directly with your insurance company or your agent. If you have problems and you need to hire someone to represent you, make sure the person is qualified to that type of work."
You can check out adjustors with the Texas Department of Insurance 1-800-252-3439 and attorneys with your county bar association. Also asks for references.
If you hire someone for this type of service, Kapiloff says be prepared to pay adjustors 15% and attorneys 30% of the total repair cost.
"If [the claim] is complicated and you need representation, we would suggest you get the representation you need, but check out the people you are hiring," he said.
Keep your family safe this hurricane season. Check our complete tropical weather preparation guide
hurricane central, mike mcguff
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