Beware of storm-chasing contractors

Illinois' Storm Chasers Act prevents contractors from inspecting homes for damage without permission, filing insurance claims, or acting as the homeowners representative with the insurer. In addition, contractors cannot promise to pay or rebate all or any portion of the policy deductible.

The Act gives the owner three business days to cancel the contract if the sale occurred at a damaged residence. In addition, the contract can be canceled within five days of receiving a denial letter from an insurer or 30 days after filing the claim. The contractor must return advance payment less emergency repair costs.

Points to remember when repairing storm damage:

  1. Use established, recommended local contractors.
  2. Get several written estimates.
  3. Keep a copy of the written, signed contract.
  4. Do not pay for repairs in cash.
  5. Do not pay off the balance until repairs are finished to your satisfaction.
  6. Ask to see state licenses and local permits. Roofers must be licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Public adjusters must be licensed by the Illinois Department of Insurance.
  7. Verify the contractor has proper insurance.