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Following Sunday's Severe Weather, North Texans Should Stay Wary Of Solicitors

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The aftermath of a storm is always ripe for rip offs.

Contractors are already roaming damaged neighborhoods to offer their services.

The Insurance Council of Texas estimates more than 100 homes in the Dallas area were damaged as a result of the tornado that hit Sunday night.

But there are questions every property owner needs to ask before hiring a roofer.

Be wary of anyone who offers to waive your insurance deductible.

As of Sept. 1, state law prohibits roofers from offering to wave deductibles.

If someone is soliciting business on your doorstep, ask for their permit or badge.

With the exception of Frisco, most cities in North Texas require salespersons to apply for a permit. Many cities perform background checks on applicants, while others retain basic contact information that can verify a solicitor's identity.

Ask the roofer about what kind of insurance coverage they carry. Specifically inquire about liability insurance.

In Texas, there is no licensing requirement for roofers. Peruse the sites of professional organizations, such as the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association or the Roofing Contractors Association of Texas. These groups typically vet the companies listed on their sites.

Compare bids from multiple contractors so you know you are receiving the best deal.

If you hire a roofer, make sure both parties sign a contract. Never pay in full before the work gets started.

ICT recommends homeowners refrain from hiring a contractor immediately. The group also advises to wait on major repairs until after an insurance adjuster arrives.

After contacting your insurance company, experts say the first thing you should do is document the damage.

"Make sure you take plenty of pictures," said Meloney Perry, an insurance litigator. "Document, document, document. That's the key in trying to restore after the storm."

Perry took her own advice after part of her roof fell into her pool.

To prevent further damage, Perry recommends covering roofs or cars with tarp. While homeowners wait for repairs, they should be keeping records and lists.

"Keep track of the bills, of things you paid for, until the insurance company can get out there. It will take time to get roofers out there."

If you decide to hire a public adjuster, make sure he or she is bonded and licensed by the state.

Above all else, double check your home and auto insurance policies are in effect. Gather the necessary paperwork before the adjuster arrives.

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