When we say ‘storm chasers’, we don’t mean those who deliberately chase down severe weather, like you see in the movies. We are referring to the companies that who show up at your door shortly after a storm, claiming houses in the neighborhood have sustained major damage and yours might be one of them. Although some companies do specialize in storm damage and many are adept at helping individuals navigate the claims procedure when warranted, sadly there are also those out there looking to make a quick buck without the homeowner’s best interest in mind. These companies set up shop in an area, knock on as many doors as possible and have even been known to commit fraud in the process. We advise homeowners to take caution when these guys are in the neighborhood.
You’ll know when these types of companies are in the neighborhood by seeing signs pop up in people’s yards or someone going door to door. If you end up with one of these individuals at your door, take caution before agreeing to anything.
One of these storm damage specialists might tell you he just helped your neighbor get a new roof fully covered by their insurance and can do the same for you; he just needs to inspect your roof first. If you agree to a roof inspection, we recommend you stay outside and watch the inspection be done. In some cases, these so called professionals have caused damage to roofs themselves and convinced homeowners it was from a storm. If you’re told you have roof damage, always get a second opinion from someone you’ve contacted directly.
We also caution homeowners against signing anything. These companies move fast, whether they legitimately find something or not, they’ll be asking you to sign a document before they leave. Usually, these documents are some type of contingency agreement, which essentially gives them full power to negotiate with insurance companies. Unfortunately, these types of agreements also mean that any insurance money that is awarded goes straight to them, regardless of who actually does the work.
Homeowners who sign a contingency agreement with a storm damage specialist typically have no say in who ends up replacing their roof. In fact, a customer of ours who didn’t like the progression as the roof went on contacted us to see if there was anything we could do. Unfortunately, the other company had the contingency agreement so there wasn’t anything we could do.
These companies will get the most money they can out of the insurance company and put the cheapest material on the house. That way, their company is awarded the difference. Many homeowners aren’t familiar with storm damage specialists, or as we like to call them, ‘storm chasers’. They seem trustworthy enough. And if you have damage to your roof or siding following severe weather, these guys are offering a solution. Some of these companies may truly be trying to help you, but most of the time, they’re scamming people.
Questions to Ask
When approached by a storm damage specialist, we recommend asking the following:
- Ask for the company name, and if you can, do a quick Google search on it, reading reviews and taking note of their company’s address.
- Ask which neighbors they’ve already spoken to and if they can provide addresses so that you can ask them about their experience.
- Ask if they’re licensed and insured in the state of Michigan and to provide proof. Licenses can also be verified by using the State of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) license verification portal.
- Be cautious of contractors that are not local – if out of state contractors work on your house, you run the risk of their work not complying with Michigan Building code.
Remember, there are companies legitimately helping homeowners with storm damage repair, working directly with your insurance company so you don’t have to. The point in this post is to shed light on how easily homeowners can be scammed. Be wary of anyone chasing you down following a storm. For more information, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re your single source for all roofing and home exterior-related information. And remember, GoTo Roofing has you covered!