If you’re like me, the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase “storm chaser” is the 1996 disaster film, Twister.
Don’t you remember? It’s the one where a university professor and a team of underfunded students chase a tornado throughout Oklahoma!
Unfortunately, we’re not talking about the storm chasers from Twister.
Out of all the roofing scammers, the out-of-town storm chasers are the most publicized, yet people all across the country fall victim to them. Also known as roofing gypsies, they travel from state to state following the paths of storms looking for homeowners to exploit.
These transient contractors employ predatory practices such as pressuring a homeowner with roof damage to quickly have it repaired or replaced before more rain comes and results in additional damage.
Experiencing a rough storm can leave you worried about the state of your roof. This vulnerability is what a storm chaser preys on. Avoiding them is the best thing you can do and this is easy once you know the red flags to look for.
How do Storm Chasers Take Advantage of Us?
These fly-by-night contractors will blanket an area hit by hail or wind damage and solicit work door-to-door by offering roof inspections and repairs at little to no cost.
A fair number of these companies are unqualified roofers that quickly take your money and leave you with poorly-done work–if they complete the work at all.
Some may also ask you to sign an AOB (Assignment of Benefits) before getting on your roof.
What is an AOB? It’s a legalized form that speeds up claims by helping homeowners avoid having to pay money upfront. It allows roofers, contractors, and other third parties to directly negotiate with your insurance companies to settle claims and collect payment.
With an AOB, you will be left out of any decisions regarding your roof, and storm chasers will capitalize on this by overcharging for their services, pocketing any extra leftover money.
5 Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed
Some well-meaning roofers may actually come knocking on your door to offer their services after a storm. But to ensure that you are talking to a reputable contractor and not a storm chaser, here are a few signs that you should look out for and how you can navigate the situation.
1. Check Out their Address
Research their place of business and phone number before signing a contract. Sometimes storm chasers disguise themselves as local companies. They’ll go so far as to set up a temporary office and phone number. Ask to see their driver’s license and look at the license plate on their vehicle.
2. Be Wary of Down Payments
Most trustworthy roofers will never ask for a check before the job is done. If your contractor asks for a large payment before their job has even started, they might be trying to scam you.
Before making any substantial payments upfront, verify the company’s status with the Better Business Bureau and check reviews on local listing sites.
3. Observe Their Attitude
Observe their attitude when they are discussing your options. If they’re being too pushy or pressuring you into doing business with them, tell them you want to think about it.
Keep in mind, it’s not necessary to make an immediate decision especially if you did not call requesting a roof inspection.
4. Don't Sign Any Paperwork
Storm chasers are like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. With their promises of affordable, fast roofing solutions, they seem harmless! So, what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that these promises are built on offers or quotes that are too good to be true. Sometimes these could be in the form of cash-back incentives or offering to pay your insurance deductible. These practices are not legal, so you should step away from such deals.
5. Contact Your Insurance Company & an Experienced Roofer
Having a storm chaser show up at your home can seem daunting, but don’t panic! They want to scare you into letting them work on your roof, but you are still in control of the situation.
If a random contractor knocks on your door and says you have roof damage, thank them for the information and let them know you’ll be contacting your insurance company for further inspection.
Your insurance company will send someone out to check and see if you actually have roof damage. If you do need a repair or replacement, you’ll then be able to reach out to an experienced roofing company rather than relying on a storm chaser.
Who Do I Hire if I Actually Have Storm Damage
Now that you know all the ways to avoid getting scammed by storm chasers, you may be wondering who to hire if you actually have roof damage caused by a severe storm.
If I haven’t made our opinion clear yet, let me say it one more time: you should hire a roofing company with local experience!
Most local roofing companies will be licensed and insured to safely work in your area. You can also count on them not leaving town after your roofing project because they are based in your community.
If you’re wondering why you should trust a random man on the internet (me!) to give you roofing advice, I don’t blame you. Let me explain: I know a little something about local roofing contractors because I am a local roofing contractor.
If you live in the Raleigh area and need a contractor for your next roofing project, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We'd be happy to help.