WEST Devon residents are being urged to check with their insurance firms before paying traders for household repair works.

In one recent case a trader charged £11,000 for work that the insurance company then declined to reimburse because they valued the work at under £2,000.

Devon and Cornwall Trading Standards has issued the warning, stating that consumers can be left out of pocket when insurance companies don't reimburse the full amount paid to a trader.

The situation could be avoided said Trading Standards officers by following simple steps before committing to work.

l Don't assume the work will be covered. Check your policy for exclusions and the amount of any excess you have to pay.

l If it is not an emergency, take your time to shop around and compare quotes.

l Be clear about what you are agreeing to. Fix a price and get everything in writing before work starts.

l Make sure you know who you are dealing with. Get a trading name and address before you agree to the work.

l When you agree the contract, the trader must give you details about your rights in writing. You have 14 days to change your mind.

l Paying by credit card gives you extra protection if anything should go wrong, provided the payment was more than £100.

l Consider using a local Buy With Confidence tradesman. These businesses are checked and approved by Trading Standards and can be found at http://www.buywithconfidence">www.buywithconfidence. gov.uk

l Don't forget to look out for vulnerable neighbours and relatives who may be persuaded or pressured into work they don't need.

Cllr Roger Croad who is one of Devon and Somerset County Council cabinet members responsible for the joint Trading Standards service said: 'People don't always check and are then surprised to learn that either their policy doesn't cover the work they've done, or that they've paid an amount far higher than the insurance firm would agree to reimburse.

'There is a warning here for consumers, and unscrupulous traders who charge more than the value of the work for "insurance jobs".'

To report a rogue trader call the Citizen's Advice Consumer Helpline on 0345 040506.