SCOTTSBLUFF — In the wake of multiple hailstorms and weather events, roofing contractors and auto repair businesses will be setting about their task of restoring and rebuilding.
American Family Insurance Media Relations Consultant Linda Wagener said the first step in the process is filing a claim with your insurance agent to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. She said most carriers can move those customers with the greatest need, such as a home that is not livable, ahead in the process.
About two-thirds of the claims American Family has seen from the recent storms have been auto, but homes and businesses are also reporting damage. Wagener said to make sure to get answers from your adjuster throughout the process.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Wagener said. “That’s what we’re there for. We’re there to make sure you get back to where you were before the loss.”
Scottsbluff City Manager Nathan Johnson cautions homeowners looking for repairs to check to make sure the letter of the law is being followed by their contractors.
“In the past, we have seen several instances where contractors do the work without getting the proper permits, and it didn’t turn out well for the homeowners,” Johnson said.
Information is provided on most city websites for building permit applications and requirements. Following up on required permits keeps property owners from incurring unanticipated costs.
“The biggest thing that we’ve seen is that the insurance company may not pay for the work that’s been done if it’s not permitted,” Johnson said. “Ultimately, then the property owner would have to pay for the work.”
Johnson indicated that after past weather incidents there were companies going door-to-door attempting to pass themselves off as local when the reality was that they were not and were not registered with the city. While the city does not endorse any specific contractors, it does maintain a list of which companies are registered. Johnson said any resident with any doubt about a contractor can contact city staff by calling 308-632-4136 and staff will be able to confirm that a contractor is registered and whether the proper permits have been obtained for your property before any work begins.
Wagener advises customers to select a contractor who has operated in the area for several years, has the appropriate permits, is insured and bonded and gives a written guarantee for the work performed. She encouraged individuals to ask their claims adjuster for a list of certified repair shops and contractors. Often the best advice is to use local providers rather than companies that come in following a storm and may be hard to contact if there is a need for service after the fact, she said.
“Talk to your neighbors,” Wagener said. “Talk to your relatives. See who they’ve used and who they recommend. Usually word-of-mouth is the best reference.”