How to protect yourself from hurricane repair scams

Personal Finance

Stephen Yang | Reuters

Local resident Vishnu Obregon in the Brickell neighborhood as Hurricane Irma passes Miami, Florida, U.S. September 10, 2017.

Homeowners affected by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have already absorbed a body flow from damaged homes and lost possessions.

Now, they’re bracing for another: Repair scams.

After weather calamities, fraudsters — also known as “storm chasers” — exploit the severe strain on insurance companies. In affected cities, like Houston, due to the extent of damage, insurers have had to recruit independent claims adjusters, including some from out of state. This gives scammers an opportunity to sell themselves to unsuspecting home owners.

The overall bill will be steep: the cost of Hurricane Irma and Harvey will range between $150 billion to $200 billion. That figure includes property damage and lost output.

While filing insurance claims, consumers should keep detailed records of communications after a natural disaster, and be wary of potential scammers.

“If you find yourself in as situation where you signed the dotted line without checking with your insurance company first, give them a call,” Chris Hackett, senior director at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, told CNBC.

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