Beware of scams from 'disaster chasers'


RACQ has warned homeowners to be wary of scammers looking to rip them off following south-east Queensland’s devastating floods.

Brisbane river flooded

RACQ spokesperson Graham Metcalf said scammers often door-knocked owners of damaged homes or left letterbox leaflets offering services for repair work and promising the homeowner’s insurer would pay.

“This can leave the homeowner liable to pay a commission or inflated repair bills not covered by their insurance policy,” Mr Metcalf said.

Mr Metcalf said the scammers, also known as disaster or storm chasers, preyed on highly vulnerable people.

“The aftermath of severe weather can be overwhelming,” he said.

“Unfortunately, scammers are only too happy to take advantage of vulnerable, stressed-out Queenslanders.”

Mr Metcalf said brazen disaster chasers could try to entice the homeowner by offering free inspections or promising to get the repairs done in a short amount of time at a reduced cost.

“They might also ask for money upfront or ask you to sign a contract straight away,”
he said.

“People should only deal with their insurance company and not engage with unsolicited third parties.”

Any suspicious behaviour should be reported to the police and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) at

Top tips for identifying or dealing with a disaster chaser:

  • Insurers will not send a tradesperson or builder to your home without notifying you or providing details. 
  • Contact your insurer before agreeing to any repairs or rebuilding work to make sure your insurer will cover it.
  • If in doubt, ask for identification such as a builder’s licence or driver’s licence, and ring your insurer to check.
  • Don't sign contracts with a disaster chaser if they door-knock.
  • If you have signed a contract, there is a cooling-off period and your insurer can help you end the relationship with the disaster chaser.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.