Center Offers Consumers Resource After Wildfire Devastation
In an effort to assist Tennesseans affected by the Gatlinburg wildfires, the Tennessee State Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) has established a Community Resource Center (CSC) in Pigeon Forge. It will open on Thursday, Dec. 1, in the former Boyds Bear building parking lot located at 149 Cates Lane in Pigeon Forge.
“The damage created by the wildfires was heartbreaking,” said TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “In an effort to help consumers begin rebuilding and restoring their lives, we worked with Pigeon Forge officials to open the Community Resource Center. We’re thankful for all our local partners who have shown such inspiring courage this week in the face of tragedy.”
The Community Resource Center will have:
- Numerous insurance carriers on-site with mobile emergency teams.
- Representatives from the Tennessee Department of Labor available to help facilitate the unemployment filing process.
- TDCI Consumer Insurance team members who can help answer questions and provide information.
- Officials to provide forms to apply for building permits and provide guidance for that process for both residential and commercial buildings.
The Community Resource Center will be staffed Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
If you have been affected by the wildfires and are filing a claim, remember these tips:
- If your home has been damaged or destroyed by fire, call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information as soon as possible. Cooperate fully with the insurance company, and ask what documents, forms and data you will need.
- Take photographs/video of the damage. Make an inventory of the items that have been lost.
- Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (i.e., cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls).
- Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs.
- Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.
- If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses incurred while repairs are being made. Save all receipts to document these costs.
- If you have a dispute with your insurer about the amount or terms of the claim settlement, you can contact TDCI for assistance. Click hereto visit our website.
- To protect yourself, only hire licensed Visit verify.tn.gov to ensure that a contractor is properly licensed to work in the State of Tennessee. Different types of work or work with a higher cost may require different licensure.
Before you hire a contractor:
- Make sure the contractor is properly licensed. Write down the license number and verify that it is legitimate by visiting http://verify.tn.gov.
- Get several bids. It’s best to get at least three bids and check references.
- Get a written contract that includes the company’s name, address, and telephone number. The contract should also include an anticipated start and completion date.
- Never pay more than one-third down and do not let the payments get ahead of the work.
- Make sure the contractor is insured to cover workers’ compensation, damage and general liability insurance.
- When hiring a contractor, avoid:
- A person going door-to-door selling their services.
- A person who offers services for a short time only, which makes consumers feel rushed and unable to research the contractor.
- Unmarked trucks or vans, or a refusal or reluctance to set out complete and specific contract terms in writing.
- Being pressured to pay for more than half of the cost upfront.
To file a complaint about a contractor with the Board for Licensing Contractors, visit http://tn.gov/commerce/article/cont-file-a-complaint or call 800-544-7693.