How to Fight Back Against Water Mitigation Contractor Fraud

As a homeowner, you know that there are many scenarios that can leave you with a damp mess to contend with, from leaks and malfunctioning appliances to storm damage and burst pipes. One of the primary concerns and responsibilities in these water-related emergencies is mitigation, a temporary step to clean, dry, and secure property that has been affected by water damage. And in many cases, it is necessary to hire an expert water mitigation contractor to help prevent further damage to your property.

In these stressful emergency situations, it is easy to get taken advantage of by questionable contractors who do not have your best interest at heart when offering to simply get the job done as quickly as possible. That's why it's important for homeowners to know how to spot and fight against fraud when using an emergency service such as a water mitigation contractor.

Keep the following tips in mind when interacting with your contractors so that you're equipped to combat questionable practices and ensure a smooth process in mitigating damage to your property - saving you both time and money in the long run.

Observe and document: before and after work is done

Keen observation and thorough documentation on the work contractors are performing is key to identifying potential fraud or questionable practices, while also giving you the necessary tools to fight back in case fraud does occur.

  • Immediately request copies of any signed documentation.
  • Take photographs and retain video footage of vendors and equipment entering or exiting your property.
  • Take photographs during pack out services, such as inside of boxes and where personal property is stored, especially if stored off-site.
  • Immediately alert your adjuster to questionable activity or concerns about your contractor or other involved water mitigation vendors.
  • Retain records of any communications with vendors, including text messages, call logs and emails.
  • If possible, be present when vendors are completing work.

Recognize equipment commonly used by contractors

Familiarizing yourself with the equipment that water mitigation contractors commonly use can help you identify if your contractor is taking the necessary steps to mitigate damage and whether you are being billed appropriately. Examples include:

  • Negative scrubber - removes potentially dangerous particles from the air through a series of filters.
  • Dehumidifier - takes moisture out of the air to help eliminate musty odors and mildew.
  • Air Mover - facilitates drying by increasing the evaporation rate.

Be aware of trends in common repair scams

Being aware of common and trending scams can help you identify suspicious behaviors before they result in wasted time and money. Inform your adjuster immediately if you have concerns about your contractor. Here's what to look for:

  • Companies referring other service providers that are owned by the referring company.
  • Contractors charging for services not rendered, equipment not used, or staff/technicians that were not present.
  • Contractors submitting significantly inflated bills to the insurance carrier.
  • Companies charging for travel time for unnecessary off-site storage out of state.
  • Contractors using sub-contractors who are not licensed.
  • Pack out companies charging for resetting personal property after repairs, yet no reset is completed.

There's no doubt that experiencing water damage to your property can be a stressful event. Your adjuster is a valuable resource to answer questions and assist you in determining if contractor work is appropriate for your claim. Don't let potential fraud cause any more headaches by being prepared and vigilant.

You can report insurance fraud suspicions to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a non-profit organization that partners with insurance companies and law enforcement agencies to help identify, detect, and prosecute insurance criminals: 800-835-6422. Or you can anonymously report your insurance fraud suspicions to Stillwater directly. Our Stillwater Fraud Hotline is 866-877-3697 or via email at

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