With hurricane season one week away, it’s time to get real with insurance and roofing scams coming your way. Dealing with the inconvenience and frustration of a home damaged or devastated from a major storm like Hurricane Irma can be trying enough. But a shady storm chaser can make matters worse. To protect yourself, follow the Reliant Roofing 8 Tips to Storm Success.
1. Avoid door-to-door sales people or solicitors
Many roofing companies are just traveling or drifter companies, meaning that they aren’t local and only rush to disaster areas where widespread damage has occurred. They go through damaged areas and sell door-to-door. Generally, they’re just salespeople who don’t have a roofing contractors license and simply hire subcontractors to do the work for them, or they have homeowners sign an Assignment of Benefits and take the money and run.
2. NEVER sign an Assignment of Benefits
An Assignment of Benefits (AOB) is an agreement that, once signed, transfers the insurance claims rights or benefits of your homeowners policy to a third party. AOB’s are rife with abuse and fraud, and drive up insurance premiums for Floridians. With Reliant Roofing, you will NEVER sign an AOB!!! We work directly with you and your insurance company to confirm that your claims are being handled smoothly. We do not require any funds upfront. You and your insurance will pay in full at completion of the project for all qualifying insurance jobs. Never sign over your homeowner’s insurance settlement upfront and avoid a company that offers to pay or help with your deductible. In Florida, deductible help is considered insurance fraud.
3. Always pull permits
Never assume that a company has pulled the appropriate permits for your job. Be sure the company pulls necessary building permits before starting work, and verify that the name on the permit matches the company name. At Reliant, we schedule any necessary inspections and acquire permits for the homeowner. Generally, we assist the homeowner in gathering and submitting all necessary documentation for their HOA as well.
4. Hire local contractors and check the company’s information
Before settling on a contractor, try to hire a local company. Get the company’s phone number and address or visit the physical office – but be aware that some contractors set up temporary offices to appear local or use a local company’s name. Try to ask for local references. Do not let any unvetted contractor inspect your home or property – scammer contractors have been known to fake storm damage with hammers or golf balls. If you haven’t had a chance to vet a contractor, it’s best to deny them access to your home. When looking for a contractor, look for local, reliable, and credible companies, like Reliant Roofing.
5. Verify the license, insurance, and bonding of the company
Contact your community’s local licensing board and state attorney general’s office to check for complaints and disciplinary actions, or the Better Business Bureau. You can also use tools like HomeAdvisor or the Angie’s List license information tool to check contractor license requirements in your community. Contact the company’s insurance and bonding companies to determine whether their liability and worker’s compensation policies are big enough to cover your job.
6. Avoid down payments – pay at completion
A contractor may ask for a down payment, but be wary if they want a large deposit or cash payment that’s more than 1/3 of the job’s total cost. Withhold the remaining balance until the job is completed and has passed final city inspection. At Reliant Roofing, we never ask for homeowners to pay any money upfront. No deposits are needed. Payment is due in full upon completion. Get lien waivers or a paid in full receipt from the contractor at the same time you make final payment for the work. A receipt is great, but if you want something a bit more concrete, a lien waiver constitutes proof of payment and protects you if a general contractor fails to pay subcontractors.
7. Read your contract thoroughly and know your rights
Remember that in many areas, you have a legal right to cancel a contract within three business days if you signed it based on the contractor’s visit to your home. After natural disasters, state or local officials may extend that time frame. Don’t sign a contract with blank spaces. Always obtain an original copy with both parties signatures. If you feel that you’ve been scammed, try to get out as quickly as possible and get look for a vetted, reliable contractor.
8. Verify your roof warranty with your contract
Many storm chasers are not local, meaning their “warranty agreements” may change when they inevitably pick up and leave to the next damaged area of the states. Every roofing manufacturer is a little different when it comes to warranties. Some warranties are prorated, while others aren’t. Some cover labor and materials, some only cover materials. Certain warranties are transferable, while others only cover the current homeowner and, of course, the length of the warranty varies. Failing to consider the value of a legitimate roof warranty or understand what your roofing warranty covers and does not cover can be an expensive mistake. You don’t want to wind up with a roof that isn’t adequately covered by warranty. Reliant Roofing provides the best roofing warranties in the industry. We use the full suite of GAF roofing products, which are top-of-the-line asphalt shingles that offer a variety of styles and colors to complement your home and taste. Depending on style and warranty that you select with your Client Manager, your roof can have a lifespan from 25 years to a lifetime!