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Use care when selecting contractors for cleanup after Sandy

11/07/2012

LINCOLN, RI– With much of the East Coast still recovering from the effects of Sandy, Amica Insurance urges homeowners to be careful when selecting contractors to handle repairs and cleanup after the storm.

“Millions of homeowners were affected by the storm, which means there will be tremendous demand for reputable cleanup and repair services in coming weeks and months,” said Lisa St. Onge, an assistant vice president with Amica Insurance. “Unfortunately, unlicensed contractors and scam artists may try to take advantage of this situation by preying on homeowners who are eager to have cleanup and repairs completed as quickly as possible.”

Chris Hackett, director of personal lines policy for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) notes that homeowners “can save themselves a lot of time, money and frustration by taking the time to check the credentials of the businesses and individuals that they hire to repair their property.”

Hackett also noted many insurance companies will work with their customers “to help them pick up the pieces and rebuild as quickly as possible.” This can include helping get access to the services they need while the cleanup and repair process is underway.

When it comes to hiring a cleanup or repair service, Amica and PCI offer these tips:

  • Deal with reputable contractors. Get recommendations from family and friends, or from neighbors who may have similar claims.
  • Obtain at least three written estimates from various individuals or companies and compare the bids. Be wary of bids that are unusually low – or exceptionally high. Ask whether the contractor offers a workmanship warranty.
  • Verify that the contractor is properly licensed and insured. Ask for references – and call them. Check with the Better Business Bureau or Attorney General’s Office to determine if there are outstanding complaints against the individual or company.
  • Request a detailed contract that specifies everything the contractor will do, including prices for labor and material, clean-up procedures and costs and estimated start and finish dates. Establish clear communication with the contractor, including a point of contact if you have questions.
  • Never pay for all of the work upfront. A reasonable down payment is to be expected, but don’t pay in full until the job is complete and has been inspected.
  • Follow local building codes, including obtaining necessary permits and inspections before and after the work is complete.
  • Don’t pay in cash. Use a check or credit card, which creates a record of the payment made.

“Spending time selecting the proper contractor will pay off in the long run,” St. Onge said.

About Amica

Amica Mutual Insurance Company, the nation's oldest mutual insurer of automobiles, was founded in 1907. The company, with corporate headquarters in Lincoln, RI, is a national writer of automobile, homeowners, marine and personal umbrella liability insurance. Life coverage is available through Amica Life Insurance Company, a wholly owned subsidiary. Amica employs more than 3,100 people in 40 offices across the country.

CONTACT:Vince Burks, Corporate Communications, 50 Amica Way,

Lincoln, RI 02865-1155, 800-652-6422, ext. 24563

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