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January 08, 2016

TDI Sends Investigators to Deter Insurance Fraud after Storms

AUSTIN – Disasters like the outbreak of violent storms that struck North Texas last month can often be followed by a criminal element drawn to the area to take advantage of the situation. The Texas Department of Insurance has sent investigators to the area to help deter fraud, which can range from shoddy repairs to price gouging. In the worst cases, people offering services to storm victims may simply take their money and run.

TDI offers the following tips when hiring a contractor for home repairs:

  • Start with a call to your insurance company to get advice on what repairs should cost.
  • Use local companies and check their references and contact numbers.
  • Get written estimates. These should be on the company’s letterhead with clear contact information.
  • Get more than one bid. This will help you gauge which offers are legitimate and which may be too high or too good to be true.
  • Do not pay for repairs in advance. Legitimate contractors will typically require a partial payment up front to get started, but your final payment should be made after the job is finished.
  • If you feel pressured or threatened call the police.

TDI Fraud Chief Investigator Christopher Davis, says staff investigators are in the storm damaged areas to serve as a deterrent to criminal activity. “We are working closely with local authorities in Garland and Rowlett to make sure everyone is on the lookout for signs of criminal activity associated with storm chasers.”

Davis says after any disaster there is a natural tendency to want to get back to normal as soon as possible, but don’t rush to make repairs. “People with severe storm damage have enough to deal with, without having to wonder if the company they’ve hired to make repairs or clean-up, is actually going to show up.” 

Public Adjusters

Another concern is fraudulent activity by licensed public insurance adjusters and unauthorized individuals or entities acting as public insurance adjusters. Texas law prohibits public adjusters from participating in the repair process to prevent conflicts of interest. For example, roofers may not act as public insurance adjusters, or advertise that they will handle the insurance claim for you.

Report Insurance Fraud

If you have information about insurance fraud, file a complaint with TDI’s Fraud Unit online at www.tdi.texas.gov/fraud/index.html or by calling 1-800-252-3439.

You can also file complaints against businesses with the Texas Attorney General’s Office at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or by calling 1-800-252-8011.



For more information, contact:

Last updated: 10/17/2016

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