Colorado’s Front Range is situated in the middle of “Hail Alley,” which receives the greatest frequency of large, destructive hail in all of North America. Homeowners can usually count on three or four major hailstorms every year. Unfortunately, this presents a golden opportunity for unscrupulous agents who seek to profit from the misfortune of others.
“It’s quite common for scammers to target homeowners shortly after hailstorms,” said Steve Becker of National Home Improvement, Inc. “Many fly-by-night roofing companies will pay attention to weather reports and then travel from town to town, knocking on front doors with an offer of a “free roof.” Much like ambulance-chasing lawyers, these storm chasers seek to exaggerate minor incidents for their own profit.”
When homeowners fall victim to hail damage scams, the consequences can be significant. After convincing the homeowner to file an insurance claim, scammers will often charge for quality materials and then provide lesser-quality materials and, quite often, shoddy workmanship.
If there are any underlying issues with leaks, roof decking, insulation, or other problems – the storm-chasing roofers will usually ignore them. Quite often, the homeowner ends up with a worse roof, while the unscrupulous roofer makes huge profits and then repeats the scam in the next town.
To protect themselves from hail damage scams, homeowners need to be on the lookout for some telltale signs.
“The typical roofing scam will usually start with a free inspection,” said Becker. “This is a great deal when working with a reputable roofer, but it can be a disaster if you don’t know the contractor. Unethical roofers sometimes create damage on their own, pulling up shingles and fabricating damage to help make a sale. They may even show you pictures of a different roof on their smartphones and claim it’s your roof.”
When scammers are able to convince homeowners to file a hail damage insurance claim, they get all of the benefits while the homeowner is left holding the bag. Making unnecessary claims with an insurance company can affect a homeowner’s future premiums and coverage. Your insurer could even drop you if you make too many claims. Having several open claims can also influence your ability to make future claims. When a disreputable roofing company causes you to file a claim needlessly, they are effectively limiting your options in the future.
“To keep from being taken in, homeowners need to be cautious after a hailstorm,” said Becker. “First, they shouldn’t let anyone up on their roofs until they’ve verified the person’s company and credentials. They should also be leery of any roofing contractor that offers to pay their insurance deductible. They should also beware of roofers who employ high-pressure sales tactics.”
Roofing scammers will also often request a deposit or down payment for initial materials costs. They will often promise to return the funds when your insurance company issues payment. The problem is you may not see the money again. The roofing company may also ask that you sign over your initial insurance check the moment it comes. It’s not uncommon for an insurance company to disburse a partial payment for an initial down payment; that said, you have to make sure the roofing company won’t take the money and run.
“In general, it’s best to withhold funds until a roofer has had materials and supplies delivered to your house,” said Becker. “You should also avoid signing any papers until you have had plenty of time to look them over. Most importantly, you should take the time to research the roofing company. Don’t work with traveling or so-called “pop-up” roofers. Make sure they are licensed and insured. Also, avoid letting an unfamiliar, fly-by-night company give you a “free” inspection. If you want your roof assessed, take down the company and salesperson’s information, and do a little research. A quality roofing company will be happy to schedule a time for the inspection.”
About National Home Improvement
Founded over two decades ago, National Home Improvement specializes in assisting Colorado homeowners with essential home improvements and repairs that protect their largest investments. Whether you need help with an insurance claim or deciding the best strategy for a home repair project, our seasoned experts can provide knowledgeable recommendations and unrivaled service.
From windows and roofing to doors and siding, National Home Improvement provides a complete array of services for homeowners throughout the entire Denver metro area. Dedicated to consistency, quality, and integrity, our team works with homeowners to improve and secure their homes while bringing their visions to life.