6 ways to bungle a disaster insurance claim

Being blind to fraudulent behavior
Being blind to fraudulent behavior © Gunnar Pippel/

Sometimes, illegal and unethical behavior can blow up a disaster insurance claim.

"The biggest thing would be fraud," Walker says. "We more often see that with disreputable contractors than homeowners."

An example of such fraud might be phony hail marks made in a roof by a repair person eager to do the job. Such deception rarely works, Walker says.

"The adjusters can tell," she says.

Walker urges homeowners to be on the lookout for shady contractors who tend to comb an area in search of business in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Homeowners may be tempted to engage in their own fraudulent activity, such as exaggerating and padding a claim, says Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

For example: "A storm knocks over half a fence in your yard, but you go out and knock over the other half so that you can get a new fence or a higher payment from your insurance," he says.

Scafidi says that's considered "soft fraud."

"It happens, and it's theft," he says.

Walker warns that such behavior can negate your insurance claim -- and possibly lead to more serious consequences.

"You could face criminal penalties as well," she says.


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