Insurers and agents are asking homeowners to call them first.
"Policyholders should call their agent, or insurance company's claims hotline, prior to signing any repair contract, and be wary of giving away their policy benefits and proceeds to a third-party vendor," urged the
State insurance officials counted 4,973 overall claims so far, led by
That's when a clean-up or repair contractor, for example, asks a homeowner to sign over control of insurance benefits.
Contractors and attorneys have defended such arrangements as helping to get proper payment.
Homeowners might want to communicate with their insurers, the
"Families will have to dig deeper into their pockets because insurers have been steadily increasing hurricane wind coverage deductibles and imposing other policy limitations," said
Problems after Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy suggest homeowners should be "vigilant" with insurers to ensure "full and fair settlement," CFA urged.
Many insurance companies have programs that offer to send out an approved contractor, the group noted.
"You may wish to obtain an estimate from their contractor but you are not under any obligation to use them," CFA said. "The insurance company may encourage their use, as it is to their advantage."
Approved repair costs based on regional averages "may or may not fully compensate you for your damages" as each claim deserves a unique review, the consumer group said.
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