Warning as scam repairers target disaster zones

Warning as scam repairers target disaster zones

Members are urged not to fall victim to so-called disaster chasers — unscrupulous people who target areas that have just experienced a disaster and offer urgent repairs or inspection services to affected businesses and homeowners.

While the offer of a quick repair might be tempting if you find yourself in a tight spot after an event like a flood, fire, cyclone or hailstorm, deciding to use a disaster chaser can soon lead to big regrets.

Many disaster chasers offer urgent inspections or repairs for cash but leave the work either poorly done or incomplete. They often don’t have a building licence, trade qualifications, or professional indemnity insurance, and sometimes they aren’t even a registered business. Alarmingly, it’s also not uncommon for them to use stand-over tactics to demand money.

The Insurance Council of Australia has issued a general warning that disaster chasers can leave you worse off, with large bills and a property that remains badly damaged.

“Some disaster chasers operate as small businesses, such as roofers,” the ICA said in a statement.

“They pressure the householder to sign a contract on the spot and may promise that an insurance company will pay for all work.

“They may also claim to have been sent by an insurer.”

The Insurance Council is urging people to report disaster chasers to the relevant authorities (for example, your local department of fair trading or equivalent) and to notify the police if you’ve been threatened, harassed, or intimidated.


How to identify and deal with a disaster chaser


Insurers and companies offering mutual protection, like Capricorn Risk Services, will not usually pay for unnecessary or cosmetic repairs and will only pay for approved work that is covered by the protection or policy. This means engaging anyone to do any work that hasn’t been authorised from the insurer or protection provider — even in an emergency — can leave you with a big bill to pay.


  • providing you with detailsRemember, Capricorn Risk Services will not send a tradesperson or builder to your home without notifying you and
  • Speak to your Risk Account Manager or Claims Officer if you aren’t sure about any repairs or rebuilding work, to make sure you’re covered
  • A tradesperson or builder who is working for Capricorn Risk Services will not ask you for cash payments
  • If in doubt, ask for identification such as a builder’s licence or driver’s licence, and ring the Claims department to check.

Always check with your protection provider before accepting quotes for work.


For a full list of risks protected, please see Protect Against Risk

Products sold through Capricorn Risk Services Pty Ltd (ABN 93 111 632 789) include discretionary risk protection and general insurance products. Discretionary risk protection is issued out of Australia by Capricorn Mutual Ltd. Before deciding to acquire any product, you should consider the Product Disclosure Statement available from Capricorn Risk Services Pty Ltd to see if the product is appropriate for you. General insurance products are issued by a range of insurers and in Australia are brokered through Capricorn Insurance Services Pty Ltd. In New Zealand they are available through Capricorn Risk Services Pty Ltd as a member broker of PSC Connect NZ Limited. Capricorn Risk Services Pty Ltd is a registered financial services provider (390446) and a corporate Authorised Representative (No. 460893) of Capricorn Mutual Ltd (AFSL 230038) and Capricorn Insurance Services Pty Ltd (AFSL 435197).  
This article was published 12/11/2020 and the content is current as at the date of publication.