Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today advised West Virginia consumers, especially those in the nine-county region impacted by a chemical leak, to be cautious of companies who offer to sell them insurance to cover water line, sewer line and plumbing repairs.
“Any time you have a crisis or disaster, people will look for different ways to try to make money off of it,” Morrisey said. “While many of these businesses are legitimate and want to assist homeowners, business owners and citizens in their time of need, others are not. Consumers should always do their homework prior to signing any agreement and look into whether the company offering the product is legitimate and if the product or service they are offering is really needed.”
Consumers who have been approached by companies selling insurance to cover plumbing repairs should follow these tips:
Ask for the sales representative’s name, company he or she works for, phone number and business address. Independently verify that the company is a legitimate company.
Always ask to see the policy in writing, including the cost, and tell the representative that you need a few days to think it over. Do not sign your name to anything until you have thoroughly read the policy.
Contact your home insurance provider to see if any damages to your home are already covered by an existing policy.
Never give your Social Security number, credit card or banking numbers or other personal information to anyone who is contacting you over the phone or via the Internet.
Do not allow anyone to pressure you into making an immediate decision. If you feel pressured to buy, hang up. If the offer is legitimate, it should still be available after you have had time to mull it over.
Call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 to see if the company is in good standing.
“As the water crisis continues, consumers may get many calls from businesses offering services that sound good but may not offer the services they need,” Morrisey said. “Take your time, weigh your options and do your homework. Never make a decision out of panic.”
Morrisey also offered tips to West Virginia consumers to avoid price gouging when deciding to repair or replace appliances that may have been damaged by the chemical leak.
“Purchasing a new appliance, or repairing your existing one, can be a major expense that takes a big bite out of your budget. Our goal is to help consumers make the best choice for themselves,” Morrisey said.
Here are some tips consumers may follow to make the best choice:
• Check to see if your appliance is still under warranty. Repairing the appliance on your own may void the warranty.
• Ask your insurance company if it will offer an adjusted replacement cost for the appliance.
• Get a written estimate on how much repairs will cost, and get a second opinion from another repairman. Remember that sometimes buying new is cheaper than repairing old.
“The best way to ensure you are making a smart decision is to do research before deciding whether to repair or replace an appliance,” Morrisey said.
If you have questions about offers you have received following the chemical leak or have issues with appliance repairs or replacement, please call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll free at 800-368-8808.