After the storm: How to avoid roofing scams
A typical scenario after a night’s storm that inundates an area, some homeowners will be in need of a roofing contractor to do repair work. Sometimes a roofing company will come seeking the homeowner however — then the local news stations start issuing a warning about a scam targeting that area.
These roofing companies are known as storm chasers. They will call, or visit homes after strong storms pass through. They inspect the roof and say repairs are needed. The homeowner is then asked to sign a contract which the roofer claims allows them to notify the insurance company. Instead, it authorizes costly repair work.
Once they get their deposit, it will be the last the customer sees of them.
After a storm, they flood an area trying to drum up business. They tell the people they need a new roof and can get insurance to pay for it. While unannounced solicitors may not necessarily be scam artists you still want to beware. Anytime they tell you that they can control what your insurance company does — a red flag should go up.
Legitimate roofing contractors see the scammers all the time and give the roofing profession a bad name. Eventually, however, they will get the contract for repairs after they mess up.
Typically those who will try to scam you, want you to sign a contract authorizing them to do the work until the insurance money comes in. When the insurance company decides there’s not enough damage to pay, you’re left with paying the bill. Sometimes the roofing company does not even exist, or they go out of business before any repairs are made.
There are steps in avoiding a roofing scam. Before signing a contract, follow this advice:
- Never sign a contract on the spot. Do your due diligence first!
- Make sure the contractor is licensed. Some States do not require that a roofing company be licensed though. Check your State website department to be sure.
- Make sure that the contractor is insured and bonded. Ask them for proof of insurance, it is your right. Get their insurance carriers contact information for verification.
- How long have they been in business? It is a fact that most roofing companies fail in the first two years. Roofing company longevity is a good sign — and that they will stick around after the contract.
- Check for references. The BBB is good place to start. Ask the contractor for references as well, some will give you contact information if asked.
- Ask the contractor where they are working right now. There is nothing more revealing than seeing the company in action.
Another piece of advice, and depending upon your locality, if you’ve signed a contract you have certain time limit to change your mind and cancel the contract. Check your locality for applicable contract laws.
And if you have fallen into a scam, file a complaint against the company by calling or writing your State Attorney General’s Office.