The Biggest Roofing Scams after a Hail Storm
It has been a tumultuous storm season so far in Central Pennsylvania with dozens of severe weather events that have produced destructive hail, wind and rain. According to the National Weather Service, we’ve seen 31 tornadoes so far this year, making it the sixth-highest number on record! As we push through some of the worst stretches of severe weather the area has seen in a long time, scammers are out-and-about, targeting vulnerable homeowners who want quick fixes on their damaged homes for the least amount of money.
While we all tend to look for the lowest price—that very well could be a sign of trouble. There are a few key warning signs homeowners should look for as cleanup continues in their neighborhoods. To help homeowners, we’re going to dive into the following:
- Types of Scams After a Storm
- What Homeowners Can do to Protect Themselves
TYPES OF SCAMS AFTER A STORM
Take the Money and Run: This scam happens when the roofer offers super low prices and puts pressure on the homeowner to allow them to do the repair or replacement work right then and there. After determining a homeowner has storm damage, the roofer may claim he needs money to go and get the supplies, and that “he’ll be right back.”
“In this scenario, often times, there are two people working together as a team to pressure homeowners into buying what they’re telling them. Sometimes these two man crews will even begin demolition on the roof of a home to play the part—but the moment any money is exchanged—they are gone,” says Ryan Hoke, president of The Exterior Company.
The Contractor Causes the Damage: This is another type of contractor fraud found in the roofing market that actually pulls the property owner in on the insurance scam. The contractor approaches a home in need of repair and suggests they can help them get a new roof at little to no cost. While most homeowners’ insurance policies do cover hail damage, the damage found must be from the recent storm. There are some contractors who don’t find damage and actually “create” damage, prompting the homeowner to file a claim with the insurance company. By signing a fraudulent claim, the insurance company can actually go after the homeowner! Insurance companies are on the lookout for such scams and have a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) leading the charge.
The Scammers Will Tell You There’s Damage When There Isn’t: Don’t let a picture fool you! Some scammers will get on a homeowner’s roof for an inspection and then share pictures of damage from another home. By sharing these pictures, some homeowners are duped into allowing them to do the repair or replacement work. Here’s a general rule of thumb; if no other nearby roofs suffered damage during the storm, homeowners should be suspicious when anyone says their home did.
So, What Can Homeowners Do To Protect Themselves?
The most important thing to remember is a legitimate contractor will educate a homeowner on what is and is not covered by insurance companies. They will provide a written estimate or a proposal and make sure the homeowner fully understands the terms before agreeing to anything. Most importantly, they will work with the homeowner to file a claim, and then will work with the insurance adjuster to make sure the entire process runs smoothly. Here’s a checklist for homeowners:
- Be Skeptical of Very Low Estimates
- Do Your Homework. (Is the roofing company licensed? Does it carry general liability insurance? Will it pull all the required building permits? Does the company guarantee its work?)
- Check in with the Better Business Bureau AND Online Google Reviews!
If you should find yourself in the direct path of a storm, call The Exterior Company. Many times, storm damage can’t be seen from the ground. It takes a trained professional to spot storm damage. We offer FREE, no obligation inspections. If our team should find damage, we’ll work with you through the insurance claim process. Then, once your insurance company has paid YOU for the repairs, we will complete the repairs for the insurance proceed amount.