Consumer Advisory: Hamm Warns Fargo Area Residents about Questionable Contractors
Posted on 10/23/2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cecily Fong
October 23, 2007
Bismarck, ND - Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm today warned insurance consumers in the Fargo area about reports of contractors engaging in questionable business practices. A hail storm that pounded parts of Fargo on September 21 has so far caused an estimated $55 million in damages and has contractors out in droves looking for work.
"We have received reports of contractors going door-to-door asking consumers to sign contracts for repairs prior to an estimation of damage being completed by either the contractor or the insurance adjustor," said Hamm. "This is dangerous because policy holders may not have had time to make sure that the contractor is licensed with the state."
Policy holders should be aware that in the wake of serious storms "storm chasers," or contractors from outside the area, are known to rush into the state to do quick repairs and then leave the area. Consumers will have difficulty finding recourse if the repairs are inadequate or incomplete.
Hamm suggested that consumers consider the following tips to protect themselves:
All contracts between the consumer and a contractor should be in writing.
No contract should be signed before the damage is adjusted by their insurance company or public adjustor.
If using a public adjustor, make sure that the adjustor is licensed as an insurance consultant by the North Dakota Insurance Department.
Consumers should not sign any agreement with any contractor until they have contacted the Secretary of State's office to make sure that the contractor is licensed and for how long the license has been held.
If the work is performed by a transient merchant, consumers should contact the Attorney General's office to ensure that the contractor is adequately licensed.
The consumer should be completely comfortable with the terms of the contract before signing.
Consumers should consider getting a second estimate if the contractor's estimate for repairs seems excessive and is inconsistent with the adjustor's.
Be wary of any contractor who requires full payment for the repairs in advance.
To check if a contractor is licensed to do business in the state, contact The Secretary of State's - Licensing Division toll-free at 1-800-352-0867, ext. 8-3665.
To check if a public adjustor is licensed, contact the North Dakota Insurance Department-Licensing and Investigations Division toll-free at 1-800-247-0568.
To check if a transient merchant is licensed, contact the Attorney General's Licensing Section at 701-328-2329.
To file a complaint against a contractor, contact the Attorney General - Consumer Protection Division toll free at 1-800-472-2600.