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How to Avoid Fraud After a Natural Disaster

Following a severe weather event or natural disaster, victims are focused on rebuilding their lives, homes and trying to get back to “normal.” For many, this could take weeks, months or even years. Unfortunately, there are other ways victims (in the storm area or out) can be affected after a natural disaster, too. Individuals – fraudsters – will turn up and try to take advantage of others during their time of need and time of rebuilding.

Here is a list of seven types of fraud or fraudulent schemes to look out for after a severe weather event from the Property Casualty 360 website:

  1. Fraudulent charitable organizations: People are very charitable in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Do diligent research on a cause before donating to make sure it’s legitimate. Verify the request/charity/organization/donation recipient is legitimate.
  2. Policyholder fraud: Some insureds try to take advantage of their insurance companies and file claims for losses they didn’t actually have, like expensive jewelry or other material goods.
  3. Storm chasers: Certain contractors chase storms in order to prey on homeowners. Before working with any contractor, check with the Better Business Bureau and get references. Also, never pay for work in full up front.
  4. False policy cancellations: Homeowners and renters should be aware of robocalls informing policyholders that their premiums are past due. Always call your insurance agent to assess the validity of these claims.
  5. Business claim fraud: Businesses may also try to take advantage by submitting false claims for workers’ compensation, exaggerated lost wages or revenues and inflated inventories, among other claims. Adjusters will require extensive documentation to get a good picture of business operations and losses sustained.
  6. Public adjusters that prey on victims: Staff and independent adjusters working for insurance companies will not charge people for their services. Most public adjusters are good, but some can charge up to 15 percent of the insurance settlement for their services and will try to take advantage of victims. They may also recommend contractors who will give them kickbacks for recommending their services.
  7. “Used” car sales: Some crooks will purchase flooded cars, clean them up and sell them as used cars, without explaining their history. Check a car’s vehicle inspection number (VIN) or CARFAX report before purchasing after severe weather.

Read the full story at PC360. Need an insurance quote? Contact an ERIE Agent today.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2022 and may be changed at any time. 

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.