Oklahoma victims of the weekend tornado outbreak should use caution to avoid fraudulent operators who sometimes turn up after natural
“The Oklahoma Insurance Department takes insurance fraud seriously, especially exploitation of the elderly, and I would strongly recommend all homeowners to be cautious of unknown home repair crews,” Doak said.
Doak also issued a disaster declaration that allows out-of-state claims adjusters to begin assessing the damage more quickly.
Representatives of several insurance companies responded to the disaster with additional personnel and other resources.
Farmers Insurance claims personnel, agents, district managers and employees are helping customers throughout tornado-stricken areas, said John Lucido, Farmers state executive director.
The company sent a mobile command center to Woodward that will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and could remain longer if needed, Lucido said. The bus is at Roach Body Shop, 3800 Oklahoma Ave. in Woodward.
The vehicle includes communication and computer equipment that can be used by the public, he said.
Estimates of insurance property losses in the storms were not immediately available as claims adjusters still were gathering information, State Farm spokesman Jim Camoriano said Monday.
State Farm also has brought a team of disaster responders to the state to help with claims, Camoriano said.
Homeowners should inspect their property for damage as soon as it is safe to do so, and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage, such as stopping water leaks,
He said property owners should keep receipts to ensure a record for the claim adjuster. Camoriano also reminded property owners to be watchful for con artists.
Following the storm
Attorney General Scott Pruitt also warned residents in storm-damaged areas to beware of home repair schemes and charity fraud that typically follow severe weather outbreaks.
“We know from past experience that this type of damage attracts criminals looking for ways to take advantage of Oklahomans,” Pruitt said. “We're getting the message out now so people can be aware of such quick-fix schemes and spread the word to neighbors and family members before they become victims.”
Pruitt said home repair and charity fraud are the most likely scams people will encounter.
“Within the next few days, home and business owners will want to repair storm damage quickly, but we caution them to be patient and make sure they are using a reputable home repair contractor,” he said. “Investigators with our Public Protection Unit have prosecuted unscrupulous repair workers ... who follow storms across the state to profit from the misfortune of others.”
Attorney General Scott Pruitt suggested the following tips for choosing a proper contractor or repair service:
• Whenever possible, deal with local firms.
• Check out the repair service with the Attorney General's Public Protection Unit and the Better Business Bureau.
• Ask for customer references.
• Get written estimates from several firms.
• Don't do business without a written contract.
• Get all guarantees, warranties and promises in writing.
• Agree on start and completion dates and have them written into the contract.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt cautioned people to be wary of repair services and contractors who:
• Solicit door-to-door.
• Offer discounts for finding other customers.
• “Just happen to have” materials left over from a previous job.
• Accept only cash payments.
• Pressure you for an immediate decision.
• Ask you to pay for the entire job up-front.