What should I consider when choosing a contractor?
Rob Bell, Bell Contracting & Design in Seminole, explains:
Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured, and that doesn’t mean all you need to do is
look for a license number on his or her business card. To verify that the license is valid, go to
MyFloridaLicense.com and click on the “verify a license” tab. And to verify that the insurance
is up to date, ask to see the liability policy. If it’s a big job (more than $10,000), ask to be listed as an additional insured.
If they ask for all the money up-front, run! A general guideline is to pay 25 percent when
the project begins, 50 percent midway through and the final 25 percent upon completion.
Get at least two estimates. When comparing the bids, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. One may come in with a low price but then have a bunch of “extras” tacked on, whereas the other has everything included in the original quote.
Get it all in writing. “Handshake deals” are a thing of the past. And even then they weren’t such a smart idea. The contract should not only have the final price, but exactly what’s included in the project. If something is not in the contract, don’t assume you’ll be getting it.
What should I know when dealing with my insurance company about car repairs?
Dean & Tina Pickel, Sunshine Automotive in St. Petersburg, explain:
One of the most important things to keep in mind when dealing with insurance companies is that they might try to push you to go to a body shop that’s on their “program.” The practice, called steering, is illegal but unfortunately quite commonplace. When you use one of their shops, there is nobody there to act as a third party for your best interests.
Insurance companies use all kinds of tactics to make you think you must go to one of their shops, when the truth is you can go wherever you want. We’ve heard several tall tales:
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