Commissioner Temple Urges Policyholders to Stay Alert for Contractor Fraud as Hurricane Season Approaches

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Louisianans are all too familiar with hurricanes, tornadoes, severe weather and other catastrophic events that leave our friends and neighbors struggling to recover and rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, these events also provide an opening for dishonest contractors looking to take advantage of homeowners.

 

“Since taking office, I have directed our Office of Insurance Fraud to expand our efforts in identifying and investigating fraud in areas affected by severe weather, hurricanes and other significant loss events,” said Commissioner Tim Temple. “Insurance fraud inflates premiums for every policyholder. I am committed to investing additional resources as we work closely with homeowners, insurers and local law enforcement to address this problem head-on.”

 

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), 2023 was a historic year for billion-dollar weather-related disasters in the U.S. with 28 separate events costing at least $1 billion and totaling more than $93 billion in catastrophe losses. Upwards of 10%, or $9.3 billion, is lost to post-disaster fraud, which not only impacts individuals, but also drives up insurance premiums for all of us.


 

To help combat this growing nationwide problem, the Louisiana Department of Insurance, Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors and NICB are working together to educate home and business owners about how to avoid becoming a victim of deceptive contractors as part of its annual Contractor Fraud Awareness Week (CFAW).

 

“Contractor fraud costs hardworking Americans billions of dollars every year,” said David J. Glawe, President and CEO of NICB. “After a natural disaster, fraudulent contractors work to exploit the vulnerabilities of unsuspecting homeowners with the promise of affordable renovations, repairs or construction projects that leave behind a trail of broken promises, shoddy workmanship and depleted savings.”

 

“After my recent appointment as the Executive Director of the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors, I began to build on our existing relationships with various agencies that have a common goal to address contractor fraud,” said Executive Director Brad Hassert. “Through these efforts we hope to reduce the frequency of fraudulent acts, increase public awareness and hold those accountable who victimize the public. I will continue to grow our partnerships with local, state and federal agencies so that we can maximize the results of our combined efforts.”


 

NICB recommends following these tips before hiring a contractor:

Be Proactive

  • Assess Damages: If you think you have catastrophe-related damage, reach out to your insurance company and ask for clarification on your coverage.
  • Recruit a Professional: Seek out a licensed, insured and well-reviewed contractor before any potential fraudulent contractors come knocking on your door.

Research and Verify Before Signing Anything


  • Research and Verify: Before hiring a contractor, research their credentials, reputation and track record. Check for licenses, certifications and reviews from previous clients. Verify their insurance coverage and inquire about any past complaints or legal issues.
  • Get Multiple Quotes: Obtain bids from multiple contractors for comparison. Be wary of significantly low bids, as they may indicate substandard work or hidden costs. Aim for a balance between affordability and quality.
  • Beware of Red Flags: Be alert to red flags such as high-pressure sales tactics, vague or evasive answers, or reluctance to provide written estimates or contracts. Trust your instincts and proceed with caution if something seems off.

Stay Involved and Take Account

  • Written Contracts: Always insist on a written contract detailing the scope of work, materials, timeline and a payment schedule that does not include large upfront payments. Review the contract carefully, ensuring that all terms and conditions are clearly outlined and agreed upon by both parties.
  • Stay Involved: Stay actively involved in the project by regularly communicating with the contractor and monitoring progress while keeping records of all work communications.
  • Seek Legal Advice if Necessary: If you suspect contractor fraud or encounter significant problems during the project, seek legal advice promptly. A legal professional can help you understand your rights, explore options for resolution, and take appropriate action to protect your interests.

Contact the Louisiana Department of Insurance if you need help. Call our office at 1-800-259-5300 or contact us online to file a complaint, ask a question about your policy, report suspected insurance fraud and more.