Insurance experts warn of storm-chasing home repair scammers

Insurance experts warn of storm-chasing home repair scammers

Winter storms can cause all sorts of damage to homes, such as broken windows and holes in roofs from falling trees, as well as damage to vehicles.

Another hazard that often follows comes with scammers from outside the community who look to make quick money with shoddy repair work and split, insurance experts warn.

Richard Johnson, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, said Texas has seen 16,000 claims for home damage and roughly 3,500 auto claims filed as a result of the severe winter weather from Tuesday and Wednesday.


Damage from the icy winter storm that hit San Antonio is being compared to a tornado

That’s far fewer than from winter storm Uri in February 2021, when half a million claims were filed statewide, Johnson said.

“Any event like this, hurricane or tornado, we always see repair companies from out of state or out of town, or even spontaneously create and go door to door looking for business,” Johnson said.

The Dallas Fort-Worth area received the brunt of the impact — more so than San Antonio — with power outages and tree-related claims.

Gina Wilken, a spokeswoman for State Farm, said Texans have so far filed 1,400 claims through the agency for water and wind damage, a number that is expected to rise drastically as power continues to be restored.

Once the danger of a storm has passed and everyone is safe, the first thing experts recommend doing is to document damage that needs repair in photos and videos before filing a claim.

Crews remove the stump of a power pole, felled by the ice storm, at the entrance to the Creekwood Ranch neighborhood in Comal County on Thursday.

Jerry Lara, Staff / San Antonio Express-News

People may then make temporary repairs to prevent further damage, such as buying a tarp or board for a hole, and keep the receipts as they may be eligible for reimbursement from insurance.

When searching for someone to make repairs, look for someone recommended by friends, family or neighbors, and who has local, reputable roots, experts say.

Wilken said people must remember the ongoing supply chain issues and labor shortage, which can extend the time it takes to recover from storm damage.


Here’s how much rain fell on San Antonio area during the winter storm

Other tips include ensuring that any contractor hired has business insurance. People are also advised to take photos of license plates and get the names of people working with the contractor — evidence of who’s working on a property.

Also, people should never turn over an entire insurance check to a contractor, experts said.

Johnson recommends paying a contractor in thirds — up front, in the middle of the job and after the work is finished.

“After weather events,” Wilken said, “we do have storm-chasing contractors and see fraud in the form of bad work, which is hard to make right.”

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