Hurricane Irma Recovery: Beware Of Unlicensed Contractors

Unfortunately, after a disaster like Hurricane Irma, unscrupulous contractors come out of the woodwork to offer their services to help homeowners repair their homes. In many cases, these unscrupulous contractors are unlicensed, untrained and unregulated. They may perform shoddy work, charge more than they should and the homeowner is left — in some cases — worse off than they were before these “contractors” showed up.

protect yourself from contractors

The Better Business Bureau of West Florida explains that “Natural disasters can bring out the best in people and they can bring out the worst. In the aftermath of a crisis scams and unlicensed contractors are out to take advantage of those who have been victimized.” Representatives from the BBB say, “It is common for out-of-town storm chasers to solicit business after storms,” said Karen Nalven, BBB President. “Disaster victims should never feel pressured to make a decision by an unknown contractor.  Consumers should Start With Trust and look for the BBB Accredited Business Seal; these companies are screened, monitored, licensed and trusted.  Storm chasers may not have proper licensure for your area and may offer quick fixes or make big promises to which they won’t deliver.”

Hurricane Irma Recovery: Beware Of Unlicensed Contractors

How can you protect yourself? Here are tips from the BBB for Hurricane Irma victims:

  • Don’t hire a contractor until you have checked them out at
  • Search the company online to see if they have a presence and if there have been reviews or scam reports about them.
  • Download the BBB’s Disaster Recovery Repairing and Rebuilding Guide.
  •  Contractors must be registered with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, unless work is limited to a specific area. To check licensing, call 850.487.1395 or go line: My Florida License. If a contractor limits work to local areas they may only be required to secure a license with their county. Check with local county contractors’ certification/building department if you are unsure if a contractor has secured proper licensing.
  • Don’t feel pressured to sign a contract or make a decision on the spot. This is especially true if a contractor goes door-to-door. Verify that the contractor has the proper solicitation permit (needed for door to door salespeople to operate legally).
  • Be proactive and choose a contractor rather than wait for one to show up, unsolicited at your door.
  •  Did you know that unethical contractors may create damage to get work? Be careful about allowing someone you don’t know to inspect your roof.
  • Beware of a contractor who claims he or she is an “insurance claim specialist” who is asking you to sign an agreement that allows them to contact your insurance company on your behalf to seek approval of repairs. Contact your insurance company yourself.
  • Even in the midst of crisis, obtain more than one quote for repairs.
  • Beware of any contractor who asks for full payment up front – this is the highlight of an unscrupulous contractor.
  • Resist any high pressure sales calls that say, “if you don’t sign today, the price is only going to go up.”
  • Get a written contract for all of the work to be done along with the pricing.
  • Ask for a copy of the contractor’s liability insurance. They are required to supply you with a copy of their current certificate of insurance.
  • Pay by credit card as this may offer you additional protection if there is a problem with the work.


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