Emergency advice for people in the path of Hurricane Irene
As Hurricane Irene heads for the East Coast, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper offers these tips for consumers who are in the path of the storm:
• Take important financial documents with you if you have to evacuate, including insurance policies, mortgage documents and an inventory of home contents. Also, be sure you have your insurance agent’s phone number on hand.
• If the storm damages your property, contact your insurance company. Some insurance companies require an adjuster’s approval before work can be done. If possible, take photos and videos of the damage. Cover holes in your roof or walls with a tarp to prevent additional damage if you can do so safely.
• Don’t pay for repair work upfront. Inspect the work and make sure you’re satisfied before you pay. A reasonable down payment may be required for some projects, but don’t pay anything without a written contract being in place. Avoid paying with cash; use a check or a credit card instead.
• Beware of any contractor who tries to rush you or who comes to your home to solicit work. If an offer is only good now or never, find someone else to perform the work. Seek recommendations from friends, neighbors, co-workers and others who’ve had work performed on their homes. “Don’t let con artists use a hurricane as an excuse to take your money and run,” Cooper says in a news release.
• Get three written estimates for repair work and compare bids. Contact your state attorney general’s office and the Better Business Bureau to learn about any complaints against the contractor. Before work begins, get a written contract detailing all of the work to be performed, as well as the costs and a projected completion date.
• For car repairs, shop around and compare written estimates. On major jobs, get a second opinion. If the mechanic recommends replacing parts, ask for the old parts. You may receive credit on some parts if the mechanic wants to keep them.