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How to Spot and Avoid Fire Chasers

A fire can be a devastating experience. Even if the clean-up and repairs are covered by insurance, there are still losses that are hard to get over. Homeowners aren’t the only ones who lose, either.

Business owners, commercial property owners, and property managers all deal with the aftermath of property fires.

If you are dealing with the ongoing challenges of recovering from a fire, you don’t want to add to your stress and problems by being taken advantage of by unreliable “fire chasers.

What Are Fire Chasers, Anyway?

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You may have heard about storm chasers, which are companies that come into an area after a storm has blown through and offer their services, even though they have no history in the community and are likely offering subpar work. Sometimes, these chasers actually commit insurance fraud!

Fire chasers are similar, but instead of targeting areas that have experienced high winds and storms, they focus on individual properties that have been affected by fire. This includes going to communities that have suffered from large scale wildfires.

There are ways for companies to get their information out there to people who have just experienced a tragedy like a fire. However, fire chasers use unethical methods and manipulative sales pitches to get their victims to sign a contract.

How Can You Avoid Fire Chasers?

The best way to avoid fire chasers is to know what to look for. There are several give-away behaviors that will help you differentiate between credible and non-credible disaster restoration companies.

1. Fire chasers will offer to pay your insurance deductible for you.

This is a huge red flag. If a company says that you won’t have to pay your deductible, or they will cover it for you, there is very little doubt that this company is up to no good.

This can end up creating a fraud investigation that you are now a part of. You and your insurer have a contract, and the builder or restoration company should not get involved in the terms of that contract.

2. Fire chasers will start working on your property before you authorize them to do so.

Showing initiative is one thing, but if someone starts working before you have even had a chance to agree to the terms, discuss prices, or speak to your insurance company.

If someone shows up and says, “I can get started right now,” don’t overlook the obvious: they may be trying to get you on the hook for work that they have started, and guilt or manipulate you into letting them continue, regardless of what you learn about them later.

3. Fire chasers often work under names you’ve never heard of.

If you have never heard of the company before, why is that? It could be something innocent, like they are a brand new company trying to get their feet off the ground. Or it could be a sign of a fire chaser.

When fire chasers move from region to region to work, they don’t develop a relationship with the community. Bad reviews are less likely to follow companies that switch locations and even business names regularly.

One thing to look for is the address. If they only have a PO Box for an address, they likely don’t have a long-term track record of doing great work for their clients.

Now You Know How to Avoid Fire Chasers, but How Do You Find a Reputable Disaster Restoration Contractor?

It is important that you choose a reputable, reliable local contractor to help you with your disaster restoration after a fire.

We have written about choosing the right contractor before–check out our blog post that is full of advice and strategies! These include working with a local contractor that is insured and licensed. You also want to find someone who can start work quickly so that you can avoid problems that are caused by waiting to start repairs.

Finally, be sure to check out the company’s track record. Restoration contractors should be able to provide you with a list of references and reviews. A company that has been working in your area should also have a good “word of mouth” reputation. Ask your friends and family who they have worked with for restoration services.

Need Help Now?

Let’s talk about how the Alpha Omega team can help you recover from the difficult experience of a fire. We work locally in Billing, Montana and the surrounding areas, and we’re ready to help!

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