NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) shared important information about filing insurance claims, hiring contractors for home repairs, home safety and avoiding scams for Tennesseans who may have sustained home or auto damage this past weekend's flooding.
Many homeowners in Middle Tennessee are beginning the cleanup efforts after flooding damaged their property, and on top of that they're also having to figure out who will pay for what.
It's important that if your home flooded in this past weekend's severe storm or you had any kind of damage that you let your insurance company know quickly.
Be aware, some policies may not cover interior water damage from a storm.
While it's too late to purchase flood insurance now, you may want to think about getting it because most policies require you to have it for at least 30 days before a flood happens.
There's also a lot to watch out for when it comes to getting repairs done.
Filing Insurance Claims:
- File your claim as soon as possible. Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Your policy may require that you make the notification within a certain time frame.
- If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses.
- Document the damages by taking photographs or video of any damage for each instance your home or property was damaged. • Make the temporary repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls).
- Never have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Be prepared to provide your claims adjuster with records of improvements you made prior to the damage.
- If you feel that you are unfairly denied a claim by your insurance company, consumers should file a complaint with TDCI.
Hiring a Contractor:
- Remember that a contractor’s license is required before bidding or price negotiations when the total cost of the project is $25,000 or more.
- For work that costs less than $25,000, check with your local government’s building codes office to confirm whether a contractor needs a state license or local license to perform home improvement, electrical, plumbing or HVAC work, as well as their permit requirements for inspections.
- Before selecting a professional, ensure they are properly licensed for the project by visiting verify.tn.gov. • Get several bids and check references before committing to a contractor.
- Be wary of contractors selling repairs door-to-door, especially when they ask to receive payment upfront or offer deep discounts. • Generally, do not pay more than 1/3 of the cost upfront and make sure you have the terms of payment in writing.
- If you are dealing with a company or person who promises to remove debris from your property, ask them to list the services they will provide in writing.
- Ensure that your contract provides for you to make an inspection and approve the work before making the final payment.
- Tennessee's felony theft law covers consumers whenever a contractor takes money and fails to perform work within 90 days. Pursuant to T.C.A. 39-14-105, consumers may contact local law enforcement and file charges to prosecute the contractor for theft. More information about the law can be found here.
- Consumers can check the complaint and disciplinary history of a contractor by contacting the Board for Licensing Contractors by phone at (800) 544-7693 or (615) 741-8307 or emailing our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. To file a complaint, consumers should visit the website at tn.gov/commerce.