Homeowners Beware Cosmetic Damage Repair

After a nasty storm, you might find more than a rainbow in the sky, you could also discover to your chagrin, damage to your home. In most instances, damage is just shy of insignificant, and, doesn’t present a threat to your home’s structural integrity. It could be some loose roof shingles or tiles, or, broken aesthetic shutters. You might even seen a split in the eave on the front porch or other minor, yet visible damage.

If you’ve seen contractor trucks driving around the neighborhood after a heavy storm, it’s certainly no coincidence. Those individuals are seeking opportunity to do some “cosmetic damage repair,” also disturbingly referred to as, “opportunistic contracting,” by insurance companies. If it sounds like something you ought to avoid, it is.

Homeowners Beware Cosmetic Damage Repair

You’ve probably not read through that massive, seriously uninteresting document that is your homeowner’s insurance policy. Within it, there’s probably coverage for cosmetic damage claims. Of course, this isn’t provided free-of-charge by benevolent insurance carries, you’re paying for its inclusion. What’s more, you’ll pay higher insurance premiums if you and your neighbors submit cosmetic insurance claims.

“Earthquakes, unexpected deductibles, and flooding are just a few of the costs your homeowners policy might not cover. But if you’re like most Americans, you probably don’t realize it. According to the MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Literacy Survey, many homeowners are clueless about the ins and outs of their policies, which means they could easily end up paying a lot more than they expected after damage to their home.” —U.S. News and World Report

In fact, insurers do use their claim data to uncover trends. When an area is hit with a severe storm, insurance claims roll-in soon after. That sudden sizable amount of activity causes insurance companies to increase rates. If a home is hit with what appears to be cosmetic damage, but is learned to be a compromise to a major system, such as the roof, homeowner’s insurance activates, so, there’s no need for cosmetic damage protection.

You can save money on your homeowner’s insurance, opt-out with a cosmetic damage exclusion. To avoid costly repairs, pay out-of-pocket and don’t be shy to ask for a discount. Here are some ways to help protect yourself if your home has suffered cosmetic damage and you need to hire a contract for repairs:

  • Get at least three quotes from reputable contractors. Ask people you trust for recommendations and referrals. Then, get at least three estimates from contractors. Review each estimate and compare. Don’t go for the lowest bid based on cost alone, consider experience and any specialization.
  • Search the local Better Business Bureau and clerk of courts office. Visit the local BBB website and look-up each company individually. In addition to this, search the local clerk of courts office to learn if any of the contractors are named as a defendant in a lawsuit by one or more customers.
  • Check licensing with the state and ask for proof of insurance. By state law, contractors are required to conspicuously display their license. These usually appear right on their work trucks, and, you can just write it down to search it online. You should also ask to see their proof of insurance.
  • Ask who will perform the actual work. It’s common for contractors to hire subcontractors — even general contractors building or improving might have sub-subcontractors on-the-job. You want the person you meet with to do the actual work.
  • Do not pay for repairs upfront. To protect yourself, don’t pay for repairs upfront, though it’s not uncommon to pay a small amount before or when work begins.

If you have small cosmetic damage to your home and are handy with common tools, you might be able to do-it-yourself and save even more.