FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: DATE: MAR. 3, 2023
CONTACT: Heather Massey, Vice President of Communications (737) 205-2545 email@example.com BBB Media Office (737) 205-2545 firstname.lastname@example.org BBB
Warning: Watch for untrustworthy storm chasers after severe weather
Hailstorms, tornadoes and severe weather devastated several Texas communities on Thursday, Mar. 2, as a strong system moved eastward across the Lone Star State and into Louisiana. The potential for damage from this storm is significant, with some Central Texas communities reporting quarter-sized hail and, in North Texas, golf ball-sized. Downed power lines and widespread power outages affecting thousands of homes further complicate the recovery process, making it difficult to assess the extent of damage caused by the storm. As residents begin to clear the debris and repair, BBB reminds the public to be wary of contractors following in the wake of a natural disaster, often referred to as storm chasers.
Although not all storm chasers are scammers, some may lack the proper licensing for your area, offer quick fixes, or make big promises they can’t deliver. Often found door-to-door soliciting services, they make offers but disappear after accepting payment. Avoid hiring contractors who use high-pressure sales tactics, such as “today only” offers, or demand full payment before beginning work.
On the heels of this latest severe weather and in preparation for future storms this spring season, BBB offers the following advice
: • Find out if you’re covered. Your insurance policy may cover damage from the storm, including wind, hail or water. Call your insurance company immediately to report the damage and discuss how to proceed with repairs. Make sure you understand how your insurance company will reimburse your repair costs. Take photos or videos of your property as well as the immediate vicinity
. • Use a local company. Some unethical contractors habitually travel to areas across the nation that have been affected by damaging weather patterns, whether it manifests as a tornado, hail, flooding or other natural disasters. Using a local company strengthens community businesses and provides a local office that homeowners can visit if they encounter any issues during or after the repair. If a contractor claims to be headquartered locally, ask for their address and phone number and verify.
• Research the contractor. Research the business online by typing in the contractor's name and ‘scam’ or ‘fraud.' Read what past customers have said about their experience, but be cautious of reviews posted on the business's website, as they may be fabricated. See how responsive they are to negative reviews or complaints and how they resolve customer issues. Check if the business is BBB Accredited by searching on BBB.org or using the function to find Accredited Businesses near you, such as roofing contractors.
• Get multiple estimates. BBB recommends obtaining at least three quotes or estimates from separate companies to help homeowners determine a realistic project cost whenever contracting services. If one estimate is significantly less than the others, be cautious, as the business has to make a profit to be sustainable. That profit may come from lower-quality products or shortcuts. Ask questions and avoid contractors that require a substantial percentage of the project's total cost before beginning work.
• Beware of contractors claiming to waive insurance deductibles. A deductible may be a specific dollar amount or a percentage the policyholder must pay before insurance companies issue full payment. Claiming to waive insurance deductibles without the insurer’s consent is illegal in Texas. Contractors who claim they will waive your deductible may be sending false information to your insurance company about the cost of repairs, which constitutes fraud. Additionally, contractors offering waived deductibles are likely to make up for the difference in price by cutting corners or using lower-quality products.
For more information about planning, preparing, responding, and recovering from a natural disaster, visit BBB.org/Storm.
ABOUT BBB: The Better Business Bureau has empowered people to find businesses, brands and charities they can trust for over 110 years. In 2021, people turned to BBB more than 200 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 25,000 charities, free at BBB.org. Local, independent BBBs can be found across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including BBB serving the Heart of Texas, which was founded in 1950 and serves 105 counties across Texas.