Information for Revere tornado victims

The tornado that touched down in Revere was unexpected and caused a significant amount of property damage to homes and businesses. Unfortunately, whenever there is a significant weather event, like a tornado or hurricane, scammers come out of the woodwork to take advantage of consumers who are already in a difficult place. Consumers who are desperate to start repairs to their house may be quick to hire the first contractor that comes knocking – but that is a big mistake. In many cases, these crews are unlicensed and may not follow local building codes or do appropriate work.

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation reminds consumers to take these important steps before hiring a home improvement contractor:

  • Interview at least three candidates, and get a written estimate from them.
  • Check a registration online at www.mass.gov/consumer
  • Check on references. If at all possible, go out and see work a contractor has done on other homes. Also, ask family and friends if they have used a contractor that they can recommend.
  • When signing a contract, make sure the total price of the contract is clear, there is a payment schedule and make sure you understand the provisions for changes or extras. Also, ensure the start and completion dates are clear.
  • The contractor cannot collect more than one-third of the cost of the contract in advance, unless special-order materials are needed.
  • Make sure the contractor obtains any local building permits. If the homeowner applies for the permit, he or she may not be eligible for compensation from the guaranty fund.

Even though this may take a little more time it will be worth taking these steps in the end.

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly.

Contact the Office’s Consumer Hotline Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., at (617) 973-8787 or toll-free in Massachusetts at (888) 283-3757.

Tips on filing insurance claims

The Division of Insurance reminds consumers affected by the Revere tornado to do the following:

  •   First and foremost, contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
  •   Take pictures of any storm related damage to your property or belongings, particularly if you must throw away items of value that are bacteria-laden.
  •   Do not make permanent repairs until the claims adjuster has inspected the property.  But do take temporary action to prevent further damage, like covering holes in the roof or removing water.
  •   Keep a record of all receipts, and document any time you spent securing your property, and your conversations with the insurance company.
  •   Carefully read your insurance policy to see how much your deductible will be and to see whether the full damage is covered.

The Division of Insurance will be on site for late afternoon/early evening consumer assistance sessions at City Hall several times during the month of August. Be sure to check the OCA or DOI websites or the Mayor’s website for further information, and follow the Division on Twitter for up-to-date information, at @MassDOI.

Consumers with questions about filing an insurance claim can call the Division of Insurance’s consumer hotline at (877) 563-4467 or visit the Division’s website at www.mass.gov/doi.