Tell Mel: Rebates and benefits: Beware of fraud
Today’s column is an emergency read for anyone whose home was damaged by Saturday’s tornado and must-read for anyone who might ever have to file a claim on their homeowner’s insurance.
The first warning is about contractors offering to rebate or discount repairs to cover the cost of the homeowner’s deductible. This was brought to my attention by Michael Bacigalupo who is a licensed independent adjuster.
“(I’ve) been seeing a lots of contractors offering credits or rebates to storm victims,” Bacigalupo wrote in an email. He even enclosed a screen shot of a licensed general contractor’s Facebook ad as proof that this is going on. “A contractor cannot pay or offer to pay a deductible to any homeowner for repairs … per Florida Statute 817.234 (7)(d),” he wrote.
I read the statute and it seemed pretty clear to me that Bacigalupo was right. Contractors offering to rebate or credit a customer’s deductible seemed to be in violation of Florida statute, and committing a third-degree felony.