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Wisconsin Homeowners with Damage from Winter Storms Have New “Stormchaser” Law Protection

MADISON, Wis. (February 7, 2014) – Home and property owners with exterior damage from ice damming, flooding, extreme cold, wind or other weather-related events have new protections in the state of Wisconsin.

“Act 24, effective January 1, 2014, will help prevent dishonest contractors from taking advantage of homeowners in storm-damaged areas,” said Ron Von Haden CIC, Executive Vice President of the Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin (PIAW).

Storms and other catastrophic events can provide opportunities for unscrupulous contractors to take advantage of homeowners who want to have their lives back and repairs made to their property. “These unethical practices include offering to pay for insurance deductibles or making unneeded repairs or improvements,” said Von Haden. These “extra” repairs can cost the homeowners thousands of dollars, because insurance companies may refuse to pay for work that was unnecessary.

The new law specifies:

  • No deductible payments or rebates. Contractors cannot promise to pay or rebate any portion of a property insurance deductible as an incentive to enter into an oral or written contract for exterior repair.
  • Homeowners have three days to cancel contracts based on insurance claims. A homeowner who has signed a contract for exterior repairs has a right to cancel with the contractor within three days after the customer has received notice from an insurance company that the work has been denied in whole or in part. Any deposits or money paid must be returned within 10 days. However, the contractor is entitled to compensation for authorized emergency services that prevented further damage to the home or property.
  • Contractors cannot negotiate with the insurance company. The act prohibits a contractor from negotiating on behalf of the homeowner regarding a claim. However, with a customer’s permission, the contractor may discuss the damage, estimates or options for repair work with the insurer’s representative.

The penalty for violating these requirements is a fine of $500 to $1,000 for each violation.

“After any misfortune with your home or property, once you know your family members are taken care of, you should call your professional, independent insurance agent,” says Von Haden. “Many insurance companies send representatives to the scene during major weather-related events so they can respond very quickly.”

If you’re not sure what your homeowners insurance covers or have questions about repairs, your insurance agent can provide advice and guidance.

For more information or to locate a PIAW member near you, look for the PIAW logo or go to www.PIAW.org.