As Hurricane Dorian finally begins to move away from the North Carolina coast, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey says the North Carolina Department of Insurance is ready to assist with any insurance related questions or concerns and is urging residents and the industry to be on the lookout for dishonest contractors and scam artists.
“Hurricane Dorian punished the North Carolina coastline with powerful wind and relentless rain and the Outer Banks are currently experiencing catastrophic flooding. Right now, our focus is on helping people,” said Causey. “We want to help people connect with their insurance companies and NCDOI consumer service agents who can answer questions and address concerns to help them file insurance claims so they can get their lives back on track as soon as possible.”
As of Friday morning, NCDOI said many parts of the North Carolina coastal areas received up to 10 inches in rain and 215,000 customers were without power. Hurricane-force winds and more than a dozen tornadoes wreaked havoc in the southeast part of North Carolina damaging homes, businesses, and cars.
Causey said victims of Hurricane Dorian should take photos of property damage and also reminded property owners that homeowner’s policies generally do not cover damage caused by flooding, unless residents have a private flood or policy with FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. There are also FEMA programs available that may help make up the difference between what insurance covers and the home’s value.
Causey is working with state emergency officials to assess damage before the recovery phase takes place. The Office of State Fire Marshal team is at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh deploying firefighters and equipment to assist where needed.
NCDOI is preparing to set up insurance camps and victim assistance centers, if needed, to directly help clients or storm victims with claims.
Causey noted that a catastrophe like Hurricane Dorian greatly magnifies the opportunity for fraud and abuse.
“Victims of the storm are under tremendous emotional stress, so the last thing you want to do is become a victim twice,” Causey said. “You can’t prevent yourself from becoming a victim of a natural disaster, but you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of insurance fraud.”
Causey said policyholders should remember several tips before acting on a contractor’s offer for services:
- Beware of contractor or roofing representatives going door-to-door after a disaster, such as Hurricane Dorian.
- Call your insurance agent or insurance company before signing a contract or paying for repairs.
- Work with only licensed and insured contractors.
- Get more than one estimate. Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away.
- Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedule, guarantees, payment schedule and other expectations should be detailed.
- Require references and check them out.
- Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license. Write down the license number. Also take down his or her license plate number.
- Never sign a contract with blanks. Fraudulent contractors may enter unacceptable terms later.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is completed.
To report suspected fraud, contact the N.C. Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations. Anyone with insurance questions or concerns can call the NCDOI at 855-408-1212 or visit online at ncdoi.com.
Source: North Carolina Department of Insurance
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