Storm victims warned about repairs
Contractors need proper permits, insurance

COVINGTON - The Enforcement Division of the State Board of Workers' Compensation is warning residents who suffered damage in last week's tornado to make sure any contractors hired to repair damages have the appropriate permits, licenses and insurance coverage.

Director Stan Bexley said his agency will begin strict monitoring of all construction companies and inspection of building permits and business licenses will be conducted to determine where a contractor will be working, according to a printed press release.

"An employer operating in the state of Georgia with three or more full-time, part-time or seasonal employees is subject to the Workers' Compensation Act and required to provide workers' compensation insurance to its employees," the release stated. "If the business is located out of state, they must provide proof that they have insurance coverage valid for the state of Georgia."

An investigator who asked not to be named said numerous problems relating to non-compliant companies were discovered last year when storms did significant damage in the Macon area.

"We're interested in protecting the homeowner as well as employees," the investigator said. "Last year we had a group come in from Texas ... if they're from out of state and complete a job and go home and the homeowner has a problem, how are they going to find them?"

"The best rule of thumb when dealing with emergency repairs is to contract with local contractors who you already know and trust or have worked with previously by contacting the particular trade's group organization. This can usually be found by going on the Web," the release cautioned.

"In times of weather-related destruction, numerous rogue contractors will come from out of state to prey on victims of the destruction," the statement continued. "They provide inferior work, using inferior products. They will usually require their money up front. Never pay the complete price for repair until the work is completed to your satisfaction. Although these type companies will offer ... a warranty on the work performed, rarely is there. These rogue companies vanish completely."

Reputable companies will have appropriate paperwork, the investigator said.

"The Enforcement Division warns the citizens of Newton, Jasper and Hancock counties who are in need of construction services to request proof of general liability and workers' compensation insurance coverage from the contractor prior to any work being contracted or performed," the release states. "The proof of workers' compensation insurance, generally provided by way of a certificate of insurance, should be verified by the consumer by either going on line to www.sbwe.georgia.gov or calling toll free 1-800-743-5436.

Bexley can be reached at 404-657-7285 or through e-mail at bexleys@sbwe.ga.gov.

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com