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DENVER — Experts say it’s important to report storm damage within the first 24 hours after it happens. Once you have your insurance claim squared away, you might need to hire a contractor.

The district attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin counties issued a warning to homeowners about repair scams after Monday’s damaging storms.

Many out-of-state contractors move in after storms, hoping to collect money for work. They then disappear.

The Better Business Bureau has key tips for people dealing with storm damage.

  • Always have the job requirements outlined in a contract with a guarantee, and read the fine print
  • Never sign a contract with blank lines
  • Do not pay a contractor the full amount up front
  • Make sure your contractor carries general liability workman’s comp insurance.

Todd Brooks of Farmers Insurance said his office has already received more than 2,500 claims since the most recent storm hit the metro Denver area.

He said having a good policy gives you peace of mind.

“What you do have to watch for though is how much of a deductible you carry because hail-prone states have a higher deductible,” Brooks said.

Brooks said the best thing you can do is check your insurance policy before destructive weather hits.

You need basic requirements, according to Brooks.

“Comprehensive and collision for your automobile, especially in the hail season and make sure you have coverage on your home as well,” he said.

Insurance agents can also be a good resource for selecting an honest contractor to fix the damage.

“You want to make sure you get somebody local so if something happens they can come back and repair the property,” he said.

Homeowners who need to claim damage should be sure to document it with photographs and video, and keep a file of receipts from any repair work that is completed.

For more information about how to avoid scams visit the Better Business Bureau’s website.