Five Ways to Protect
Your Roof from Storm Chasers
What is a “Storm Chaser”? A storm chaser usually means a thrill seeker who follows storms for an adrenaline rush or photography. In the roofing industry, however, it means something less fun and exciting. Storm chasing is a common scam for dishonest roofers who travel to areas hit by major storms that could have roof damage. These people know how insurance companies work and how to do the bare minimum to get paid or even take the money and do not complete the job. These people are usually underqualified, unlicensed, or uninsured and by the time the shoddy work is discovered they have moved onto the next storm.
So how do you spot these scams and protect yourself?
Your first step would be to call a reputable builder, Built Strong Exteriors would be happy to help! We are going to go over five ways you can protect yourself and your home.
Call the Professionals
Built Strong Exteriors is a Minnesota and Wisconsin licensed remodeling company with years of experience and over one thousand happy customers. Those are important things to look for when shopping for a professional. Read online reviews, ask for proof of insurance, licensing and certifications, and make sure you ask about warranties. Do your research on the products and supplies that the company in question uses and make sure it holds up. Working with a local company is best. If they live and work near you, that means that they have a reputation that they would like to uphold and they will be able to answer questions specific to your area.
Storm chasers can follow any storm but expect to see them after hail damage as that is one of the most common. Out of town contractors are not familiar with local building codes. A misstep like that could add weeks and further expenses to your project. It could cost your builder additional time due to prolonged supplementation processes due to missed materials such as ice and water shield.
2. Contact Your Insurance Company First
If a storm hits your area and you think you might have roof damage, give your insurance company a call. They will send out an adjuster who will be able to assess if there is any damage in the first place and give you a quote. If a storm chaser is particularly dishonest, they may make up damage that does not exist or even cause damage while they are on your roof for an inspection. An insurance adjuster will give you a quote and asses the cost and once you know what you are working with you can start shopping around for a professional.
3. Let’s Talk Money
Another way to avoid scams is to keep that checkbook close. Do not give any company payment, or sign any documents, until you have done your research.
Check out a roofing prospect carefully by reading testimonials, checking that all of their certifications and insurance is up to date, and the materials used are high quality. You also need to speak with your insurance company to know how much money you will have available to you. Make sure you get everything in writing and pay with credit cards or check so that there is a paper trail.
Credit card companies will allow you to dispute a charge as a billing error if the agreed upon service does not get completed as initially agreed upon. You can challenge a charge within 60 days of the first statement you receive, and then the credit card company has 90 days to settle the dispute. Never pay for a job up front! Most companies will work out payment plans in writing with you before the work begins.
4. Sounds Too Good To Be True?
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Anyone promising a guaranteed free roof is probably misleading you. Those insisting that you have extensive damage or pressuring you to sign something could be using scare tactics to trick you into signing a contract or handing over money that you might regret.
If an aggressive storm chaser is trying to pressure you, stand your ground, if they are a reputable company they will be happy to let you take your time and do your research. Ask the right questions and be wary if it seems too perfect, the right contractor will make you feel comfortable and confident not pressured, rushed, or cornered.
5. Pay them a Visit
A great way to see if a contractor is legitimate is to stop by their office. Storm chasers are transient and usually do not work out of a steady office since they are on the road so often. If the only address listens is a post office box, that can be a red flag. Any prestigious contractor will also be able to provide a list of customers in the area or, at the very least, testimonials. It is illegal in most states to “door knock,” which is the door to door sales. Any person who shows up on your doorstep has already proven themselves to be dishonest. Do not feel bad asking someone at your door to leave or to leave their information so you can meet with them in the office. They should be able to provide that information to you without issue.
Storm chasers are not all bad, but there are enough dishonest ones out there that you need to be wary. They will typically come on strong and try to get on your roof for an assessment. Once they are up there, they can falsely claim there is damage or even cause damage while they are up there. We all want to support local companies and, in this case, it is essential to help guarantee high quality, professionalism, and financial security. Your home holds valuables, loved ones, memories, and so many other important things that need protecting. You want to treat the outside with as much love as the inside. If you have any other questions or concerns, don’t be a stranger and give us a call at Built Strong Exteriors.