In the aftermath of hurricanes and tropical storms, most local roofing contractors can become overwhelmed with the many requests that come flooding in. This can be frustrating to customers who just want their leaky roof fixed… and that is what sleazy storm chasers are counting on.
Now, there are reputable companies that specialize in storm damage and going to areas affected by major storms, but South Florida is also flooded with sleazy, fly-by-night storm chasers that have one singular motivation: scamming you out of your money.
The way the scam works is the storm chasers will blanket an area hit by wind damage and look for unsuspecting homeowners in need of roof repairs. They’ll pass out leaflets and even show up unannounced or offer a free inspection.
Storm chasers know how the insurance companies work and based on the square footage of the roof, they can figure out how much it will cost to put on a cheap new roof. The homeowner gets burned because the storm chaser only does the bare minimum to replace the roof, but doesn’t address any other problems, or restore the roof to its original condition. Sometimes, they even skip town before the job is even complete!
So how do you recognize and protect yourself from Sleazy Storm Chasers? Here are a few tips:
- Limited Time Offer. Don’t be pressured by a “limited-time offer” to hire the roofing company, especially following a damaging storm in the area. High-pressure sales tactics are a tell-tale sign of Storm Chasers
- Non-Local Roofers. Be leery of roofers from out of state. Storm chasers look for opportunities and conditions where they can prey upon people who may be distracted and distressed by storm damage. Check for out of state tags, or if their contact information is a non-local phone number and/or a P.O. Box.
- Paying for the deductible.It sounds so good. Get insurance money, get your roof fixed, and never pay a deductible. Disreputable roofing storm chasers will offer to pay for or absorb the homeowner’s deductible to get the business. A homeowner is committing insurance fraud if the contractor promises to pay the deductible and does so.
- Fake Damage. That “free inspection” they offer can end up costing you more than you realize. Roofing storm chasers have a terrible reputation for faking damage. Creating or “adding” damage, where none exists and collecting insurance money, can carry criminal and civil penalties.
- Do Your Research. Visit the Better Business Bureau’s website (http://www.bbb.org) to see if anyone has filed a complaint against the roofer. Always check the roofer’s references and find out if their insurance and licenses are current. If asked, a legitimate roofing company should provide proof of roofing credentials.
Whenever your home is damaged from a storm, it can be very frustrating to wait for the repair to get underway. Storm chasers know this and are waiting to take advantage of your desperation. If you have damage from a major storm and FEMA has been activated, you are most likely eligible for their Operation Blue Roof Program. This will allow you to live in your home without the threat of increased water damage while you wait for a reputable roofing company to do your repair.