Understanding Important Claims Information

Protect yourself and make sure you receive a good repair job from a reputable source. If you plan on getting an insurance policy for your home or farm, we at Garfield Farm Mutual Insurance Association have a few helpful reminders.

Choose Carefully

  • Use local companies when possible. Many out‐of‐town companies blanket the area after a storm looking for homeowners to exploit. They show up unannounced offering a free inspection and sometimes fabricate damage to mimic storm damage.
  • Hire a reputable company. Ask to see proof of insurance. Visit the office especially if the company lists only a P.O. box.
  • Check references and phone numbers. Ask for a list of previous customers in your area, visit the worksites, and interview the customers.
  • Know the two common sales scams: “We were in the neighborhood and noticed you needed repairs,” and, “We just did some work in your neighborhood and have extra supplies that would be just enough to complete your job.” Legitimate companies generally do not cruise neighborhoods looking for work or trying to sell leftover materials.
  • Get at least three bids to determine which ones may be too high or too good to be true. A low bid can result in cheap repairs that are not properly installed or completed. Out‐of‐town companies will be gone before a problem arises.
  • Low Bid Danger: A scam called “elevator ride” occurs after a low bid is accepted. Once the job begins, unexpected costs and unforeseen problems suddenly appear. While such overruns can occur, it is important to notify us immediately so that we may determine if it is legitimate. If we agree to pay the increase, we will tell you the amount of the supplemental payment. Any increase in the cost of materials should have been included in the bid because contractors receive notices of manufacturers’ price increases weeks in advance.

Signing a Contract

Do not sign a contract until after you have the adjuster’s estimates.

  • Get written estimates from contractors on company letterhead.
  • Verify the proposed repairs are the same as those estimated by the adjuster. The contract should state what the contractor will do and when work will start and end.
  • If the price is higher, do not allow work to begin until we approve the increased cost. If you choose to upgrade or do additional work, the contract must clearly show how much you will have to pay in addition to the amount you receive from us.
  • Do not pay the full amount for the repairs upfront. Many contractors will typically require a partial payment for supplies, but your final payment should be made after completion and you are satisfied with the work.
  • Do not be pressured into a quick decision by such tactics as, “The offer is for today only!” If you are being hurried, your answer should be NO. You need time to check them out. If you feel pressured or threatened, call local law enforcement.
  • Do not sign a contract with blanks in it. The blanks could be filled in later, and not likely in your favor. Read carefully and make sure you understand every word.
  • If you fail to pay, the contractor might be able to take away your home if the contract states, “If you sign this contract and fail to meet the terms and conditions of this contract, you may lose your legal ownership rights in your home.” Contact the Texas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division for more information.
  • Keep copies of everything you sign.

Public Insurance Adjusters

Public insurance adjusters charge fees to help negotiate claim settlements with insurance companies. They must put all fees in the written contract. If you hire a public adjuster, you might have less money to repair or replace your property because their fee is deducted from your settlement. Public adjusters are not permitted to give legal advice or help repair your damaged property.

The Appraisal Process

We make every effort to ensure your satisfaction after a claim. However, if we are unable to agree on a settlement amount, the appraisal process can be implemented, under which we both hire an appraiser to determine the settlement amount. Please refer to your policy’s Conditions Section for the complete details.