Storm damage to your roof is something we hope you never have to deal with. Whether you have a shingle roof, a metal roof or some other specialty roofing, the damage can be a huge expense. But if it does happen, knowing what to do will help you avoid falling victim to a common scam: storm chasers.
To be clear, we’re not talking about the team from the movie Twister. We’re talking about the traveling roofing contractors who follow the path of major storms throughout the country and try to exploit homeowners who experience wind, hail, hurricane or tornado damage to their roofs.
Think about it. Girl Scouts don’t even sell cookies door-to-door anymore. Are you going to let someone knocking on your door repair your roof?
Storm Damage in Your Area means Trouble at Your Door
These storm chasers will appear to have your best interests in mind and will offer you roof repair or replacement at little to no cost. How can they promise this? By encouraging you to submit an insurance claim on your homeowner’s policy. This is where the homeowner usually gets taken for a ride. After they file the claim, they do a bare-minimum repair using cheap, substandard materials — or worse, just take the money and run.
When the shoddy repair job inevitably starts to fail, they will already be long gone and can’t be held responsible for their unethical business practices.
Often these fraudulent contractors will lie about damage on your roof. They may even cause it themselves. Once your insurance company is called to your home, it’s still considered a claim, even if they find no damage. This is where the average homeowner can lose a lot of money. Let us tell you how.
Since the traveling roofers have filed a claim on your behalf, your insurer will need to send an adjuster to inspect the damage. While at your home, your insurer will note the condition of the roof, including any major installation issues, broken shingles, or overall wear and tear. Then, when it comes time to renew your policy, you may get a phone call informing you that you need to replace the roof to continue coverage. Or worse, you may have real damage later, and your insurance company may decide your roof was already in need of repair. So you may get no coverage at all.
You don’t need any of that after a storm.
How to Spot and Avoid a Roof Repair Scam
The first sign is a knock at the door. Most reputable roofers might place a door hanger or send our a mailer while they are in the area, but if you receive a knock at your door, be cautious. Fraudulent contractors are not educated on roof systems and best practices. Their training comes from a one-day class that is focused on how to get homeowners to sign a contract before the insurance carrier even comes out. They won’t be able to identify the specific problems with your roof, what flashing to use, the correct ventilation or proper underlayments. And replacing any rotted decking? Forget about it.
Additionally, most storm chasers do not have valid licenses and insurance. If you were an insurer, would you insure a scam artist? If you were aware of their practices, probably not. These scam artists rely on high-pressure tactics to make you feel as though you have to sign a contract on the spot, not giving you the option to do your research.
How serious is this? After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, the Justice Department created a special task force to deal with storm chaser scams. More than 1,400 people were prosecuted as a result.
After all that, Louisiana’s insurance commissioner had this to say about keeping yourself safe from storm chaser scams:
“It takes some digging and sophistication on behalf of the consumer to prevent being taken advantage of. The best protection is personal references. Ask your relatives, neighbors and friends who have had good experiences with contractors.”
We agree: Your best bet is always to go with a local, certified and insured roofing company. A reputable local roofer will be there with you throughout the process — and, more importantly, they will be there if you need them down the road.
Give Roof Authority a Call
At Roof Authority, we are certified by our manufacturers and properly insured. We use only top-quality materials and installation practices, and we guarantee our work by offering a second warranty in addition to the one provided by the manufacturer. Unlike storm chasers, we are your neighbors in the community and have been serving the Roswell and metro Atlanta area since 2009. If you experience storm damage, or just have questions about roof repair or replacement, give us a call. We’d love to talk with you about custom solutions and provide you with a free estimate.
If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about roofing, please visit our Knowledge Center. There you will find an archive of our past articles that may save you lots of money on your next roof replacement or roof repair. If you have further questions or need your roof inspected for damage, please call us or request a call. We look forward to serving our neighbors!