We’ve all heard of “ambulance chasers” – unscrupulous lawyers who prey on accident victims, building America’s reputation as the most litigious society in the world, costing insurance companies millions of dollars spent on attorney fees.
But for homeowners, there’s a greater villain still. We are talking about STORM CHASERS.
No, not the adventurous meteorologists who roll up to tornadoes in SUVs with dozens of large antennae sticking out everywhere. These storm chasers are ROOFING CONTRACTORS.
Fly-by-night roofing companies pay attention to weather reports, then travel from city to city, knocking on front doors suggesting hail damage and offering a “free roof”. Their intention is the same as ambulance chasing lawyers: to exaggerate a minor incident for their own profit. Angie’s list wrote about it here. When a random roofer shows up at your door and tells you that you deserve a FREE, brand spanking new roof…it’s hard to NOT get excited.
Worse still, these roofers are known to be scammers, charging you for quality materials then providing lesser-quality materials and shoddy workmanship. If there are underlying problems with roof decking, leaks, insulation, or other issues – they’re likely to be ignored by the storm chasing roofers.
The homeowner often ends up with a worse roof while the roofer makes an amazing profit then disappears to the next town.
Five or so years later, the homeowner will be devastated when they have to replace that crummy roof with their own hard-earned money.
You do NOT have to be a victim of roofing scams.
Here are 10 tips to protect yourself and your family from storm chasing roofers:
1. If a roofer knocks on your door, be skeptical. Especially if they cite a specific storm date for your roof damage.
2. Signs of insurance fraud:
- The roofing contractor offers to pay your insurance deductible.
- The roofing contractor encourages you to agree to an inflated price with the promise to over bill the insurance company in order to get enough extra to cover your deductible. If you go along with this…you ARE committing insurance fraud.
3. Insist on a written contract and a detailed, written estimate
4. Do not pay cash.
5. Only hire reputable roofers whose references you have checked.
6. Only hire reputable roofers who have shown you proof of insurance.
7. Get a copy of the brochure for your new roofing materials, make sure you know how to report issues to the manufacturer.
8. If you decide to make a claim, ask your insurance agent if your policy provides Replacement Cost coverage for your roof.
Lots of insurance companies have reduced the roof coverage on their policies, and you may not be entitled to total replacement of your roof.
Other coverage rules like the “Cosmetic Damage Exclusion for Roofs” may change your claim experience as well.
9. If you go forward with a new roof, hire a LOCAL, TRUSTED roofing contractor.
DO NOT hire the folks who knocked on your door (unless they are local and trusted, of course).
A local contractor is more likely to use quality materials and proper installation techniques.
A local roofer is more likely to be around if there is a problem with your new roof.
10. Make your decision with integrity.
If your roof was damaged in a storm and you want to file a claim, by all means make the claim! We purchase insurance to protect us when bad things happen.
However….if your roof is more than 10-15 years old…don’t wait till a storm wrecks it. Replace that thing! It’s a part of home ownership and roof maintenance is one of the most important tasks to be proactive about.
Don’t be a victim. Educate and empower yourself, and don’t be afraid to say “no thank you” to the random roofer who knocks on your door.
If your roof does need to be replaced, work with a local roofer who has great recommendations.
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