How to avoid repair scams, filing insurance claims after Southeast Texas tornadoes

If your home or car was damaged by a tornado, you need to watch out for scammers posing as repair services.

State Farm says they have already received 700 insurance claims for damage from Tuesday's storm.

It can seem overwhelming to see your home damaged, and you want it repaired quickly. So we asked insurance agents for advice on getting repairs made properly.

Theo Franklin with State Farm says his office is receiving calls from clients with damage in Deer Park and Pasadena.

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If your home or car was damaged by a tornado, you need to watch out for scammers posing as repair services.

He suggests using your cell phone to take photos and video, and take a written inventory of the damage. Then you should file a claim with your insurance agent.

You can make temporary repairs to prevent further damage, such as putting a tarp on a hole in the roof, and removing standing water.

Be home when the adjuster comes, so you can point out the damage.

Get estimates from three contractors to compare their cost estimates.

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"Beware of the fly-by-night contractor. There are a lot of people who will swoop in during this time. They don’t really have the credentials or the ability to do the work, but they see it as an opportunity to take advantage.  We always say go with a reputable contractor, someone you’ve seen their work or can go to others and know they’ve done good work, and they’re reliable," explained Franklin.

The State of Texas does not require general contractors to be licensed, but many specialists, such as roofers and plumbers, must be licensed. You can search a contractor's name on the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation website to learn if they're licensed or bonded, or have any violations.  

Franklin says you can ask your insurance agent for recommendations, too.

Pay no more than one-third of the cost upfront, one-third at the midway point, and the final third when it's complete.

State Farm offers more tips to help you file a claim and get repairs made.