How to Avoid Roofing Scams: Local Storm Roofers vs Storm Chasers
It’s an unfortunate fact of life, but there are scammers out there finding every possible way to get your money from you, including nefarious folks executing roofing scams. The roof is a popular target because homeowners who have just suffered a damaging storm are vulnerable and can fall for hail storm roofing scams and the tactics of storm chaser roofers who don’t always have the best interest of the homeowner at heart. These hail storm chaser roofing companies have given the industry a bad name, but fortunately, there are contractors like VIS Exteriors working to improve that image.
It’s not unusual for scam artists to follow storms throughout the Midwest, going into affected communities and preying on those who have damaged homes or homeowners who fear their roofs are damaged. They use a variety of scare tactics, too, which are quite effective in bilking money out of unsuspecting people. For example, they might tell you your roof is damaged beyond repair and you need a new one, when in fact your roof is perfectly fine. At VIS Exteriors, we have established a reputation as a highly-trusted contractor and we’ve heard plenty of horror stories, so we’re here to give you some pointers on how to avoid getting scammed.
Table of contents:
- BEWARE OF HAIL STORM-RELATED ROOFING REPAIR, REPLACEMENT AND INSURANCE SCAMS
- WHO ROOFING STORM CHASERS ARE?
- HOW TO SPOT A ROOF STORM CHASER SCAM?
- WHY IS IT RISKY TO WORK WITH STORM CHASING ROOFING CONTRACTORS?
- HOW TO AVOID ROOFING SCAMS AFTER A HAIL STORM?
- LOCAL ROOFING COMPANY VS. STORM CHASER ROOFING COMPANY
- CONTACT A PROFESSIONAL ROOFING CONTRACTOR
Beware of hail storm-related roofing repair, replacement and insurance scams
Hail damage roof scams are some of the most pervasive out there today and you’ve probably heard of someone or maybe even known someone who got hit with one. Yes, hail damages roofs, but you won’t know if the hail storm that just went through your area damaged your roof until you get a trusted roofing contractor who provides a thorough inspection of your roof.
In many cases hail fraud occurs when a bad contractor says they have spotted numerous areas of your roof that have been damaged, and then they carry on with roof replacement scams that cost people a lot of money. Most roofers are honest, but in some cases, you get some bad apples coming to your neighborhood who will take your money and run.
The first red flag that should pop up is a “roofer” showing up to your house unannounced, saying they can repair your roof or replace it for less money than is possible. Don’t even entertain their offer, as these are door-to-door roofing scams that should be avoided. Reputable roofers have a reputation for providing excellent services and they get business through homeowners who call them. Don’t be the victim of roofing insurance scams – only work with experienced local storm roofers who have been referred to you by people you know and trust.
Who roofing storm chasers are?
Roofing storm chasers are vastly different from the chasers pursuing a meteorological interest. Roofing storm chasers are people who take part in roof hail damage scams. Most of these scammers come from out of state and track storms so they can go door-to-door, pursuing storm chasers roofing cons that cost homeowners a lot of money.
What are storm chasers in the con artist sense? They are people who will present as professional storm roofing contractors with bargain basement prices that are far lower than what the local, trusted storm roofers offer. Once they secure a down payment on the work they say they will do, they skip town, never to be seen again. But rest assured, they’ll show up in the next town that gets hit with significant storms.
Sometimes, the roofers will actually take on the job and do what they say they will do, but they are often not experienced storm roofers and do a poor job, using the worst quality roofing materials. And while the job is done far cheaper than what others can offer, there are often immediate leaks and the roofing system will not last for near the amount of years you’ll get out of a quality roofing contractor.
These storm chasers, also called hail chasers, can on rare occasions actually be quality roofers simply lending a hand to communities that desperately need it, but before you trust anyone, be sure to do your research and ensure that the people repairing or replacing your roof come from a reputable company.
How to spot a roof storm chaser scam?
The first lesson in not falling victim to a storm chaser’s roofing scam is to be highly suspect of anyone coming to your door unannounced. Storm chasing roofing contractors practice door-to-door roofing scams on unsuspecting victims. They’ll go from your house to your neighbors and everyone around you, looking for that one person who will allow them to do their “inspection,” and then offer a deal that is seemingly too good to pass up.
One of the problems with roofing services following a big storm is that the local contractors who have lived and worked in the community for years are extremely busy. This means your project might not be attended to for longer than you would hope. This is no time to let your guard down. If you are approached by a contractor who says they can do the work now and for less than any other contractor, be highly suspicious, because they could take your money and run.
The signs identifying storm chasing roofers:
They usually knock on the door
Scammers are fairly savvy. They know what to say to earn trust. For example, a common scam is that a salesperson will knock on your door and tell you they’re in your neighborhood working on other homes and that they just happen to have leftover materials they can use on your roof for a low, low price.
The truth is they are not working on other homes and they don’t have extra materials. Rather, they want a down payment for their services and will disappear after you’ve given it to them.
They usually come from outside the state
There are plenty of local storm roofers that can work on your roofing project, but a clear sign that you could be getting scammed is if you’re communicating with an out-of-state contractor. Identifying signs are area codes that aren’t local.
Look at their license plate and check to see if it is from your state or somewhere else. Many scammers have a P.O. Box as their address, which can be yet another clear sign that they’re up to no good.
They falsify the damage during “free inspection”
That “free inspection” roofing scammers offer isn’t an inspection at all. They’ll “find” damage that isn’t even there, or they’ll look at areas that are obviously damaged from the ground and inflate it. For the scammers that actually do work on the roof, they use this inflation tactic to produce a bigger insurance payment that homeowners can use to pay for the “repairs” or replacement.
Again, most disreputable roofing contractors, AKA storm chaser scammers, offer free inspections, which is how they get you on the hook. Some of the worst ones will use tools to create damage that wasn’t there in the first place. In any case, they are practicing insurance fraud and do great damage to the reputations of roofing contractors that work hard to maintain their place as a trusted contractor in the community.
They offer limited time deals
When a storm chaser shows up to your doorstep following a big hail storm, they’ll likely offer you a “limited time” deal that you have to take advantage of almost immediately, or it will be unavailable. Rest assured, homeowners in the town before you were offered this limited time deal prior to you and the people in the town after you will get the same lie. This is considered a high-pressure tactic. Don’t fall for it.
They offer special, significantly lower pricing
Low-balling is a common tactic of storm chasing scammers. They know exactly what the competitive pricing for roof replacement is in your area and they will offer a “deal” lower than that. Even if they do the work, it’s not a deal because the craftsmanship simply isn’t there and your roof will not last.
Also, watch out for something many scammers do, which is to offer a “natural disaster” discount. It’s just a ploy to get you to believe their low pricing has merit.
They want you to pay up front
The way scammers are successful is that they get their targets to pay up front, which is their chance to get their payday and run. They either require a sizable down payment or they want you to pay the full cost of the project before they begin. Reputable roofing contractors don’t do this.
They want to pay your insurance deductible
Insurance fraud is the name of the game for roofing scammers. For example, they’ll offer a way for you to get out of paying your deductible, perhaps even offering to pay it for you, which is a form of insurance fraud. This can get you into some hot water, because if you let them pay the deductible, you are now legally accountable.
The best roofing contractors know how to work with insurance companies and they will even handle much of the communication with the adjustor so you get everything you deserve in your coverage. However, they won’t do anything that will be considered fraudulent.
They want you to sign a contract
Scammers will often try to get their victims to sign over their rights to their insurance settlement. They’ll have a contract with plenty of small lettering that spells out how many of your rights you’re signing over. Roofing contracts are not unusual, but just make sure you’re reading it in its entirety, as roofing scammers will have unsavory items in their contracts that will come back to haunt you.
At VIS Exterior, we know storm damage to your roof can present some stressful feelings and that you just want to get it fixed as fast as possible. The problem is that storm chasers looking for victims know how vulnerable you are. They’ll even offer perks, like paying some or all of your deductible for you. Be highly suspicious of any such behavior.
Why is it risky to work with storm chasing roofing contractors?
Storm chasing roofing contractors are keen to take advantage of homeowners who have just experienced a storm with high winds, hail and debris. As soon as the storm is gone, storm chasers will come in and take part in hail damage scams. Basically, they trick homeowners into believing their roofs are more damaged than they actually are, offer to fix it for them and ask for a certain amount of money up front and never do the work, or do it poorly and possibly not finish the job. Roofing contractor scams like this are not uncommon.
Some storm chasers roof repair scams include actually damaging the roof and taking photos of it to prove to the homeowner that the repairs are definitely needed. They will also offer to fix it fast, but require a down payment. Once they get paid, they either take off and never do the work or do a really poor job at fixing it, requiring more work later from a reputable contractor.
If you ever encounter a person who has knocked on your door to offer roofing services, ask them all the right questions, such as proof of a business license, proof of insurance, references from past work and a business card so you can look them up online. Most of these types of contractors will be from out of state and fail to offer any proof that they are reputable or that they have certifications. Never give a storm chaser personal information, as they can use this against you. Never sign a contract with a storm chaser, as these will sometimes include bilking you out of your insurance money.
Only work with a quality roofing contractor that you know, preferably one that is located close to your community and if they aren’t local, make sure they are at least from your state. Ask friends and family for recommendations – just do your best to avoid storm chasers, as there are too many horror stories out there about homeowners who came away as big losers because they worked with an unreputable roofing contractor.
A few things homeowners should consider when the chasers come calling
- Be suspicious and don’t immediately trust them. They might seem nice and very concerned about your situation, but do your research on them.
- What are their qualifications? Have they shown proof of insurance and the proper certifications? Do they have references that you can cross check? What have others said about them in online reviews?
- What roofing manufacturing companies do they buy from and is the material of high quality? How many years have they been in business and do they have experience on homes like yours?
- Do they offer a material warranty as well as a warranty on their work? Will they be available to come back if you have issues with their work?
There are so many ways storm chasers can cause headaches for homeowners. With contractors that seem to be legit, they are likely barely providing work that is up to code and the materials used are of the lowest quality. And while it might look okay when they’re finished, the shortcuts they took when installing the roof lead to leaks later. In most situations, the shoddy workmanship will lead to repairs in the near future and in the worst case, a complete replacement.
Once the work is complete, the storm chaser is off to the next community, which means if you notice something wrong with the roof that needs attention, they’re long gone. This often leads to bringing in a different storm roofer who will have to be paid out of pocket because you’ve already used your insurance money.
How to avoid roofing scams after a hail storm?
Roof repair scams are all too frequent. In fact, if a storm blows through your community, you’ll likely see storm chasers targeting you and your neighbors. Most insurance will cover hail damage, which is why homeowners are quick to work with storm chasers who promise to jump on the work really quickly, but beware – too many people have had storm chaser roofing repair done to their home and regretted it very soon after.
Roofing hail damage scams often involve a “contractor” who will only do the work after you’ve made a down payment, and when you have made that payment they will leave and never come back. Others will actually do the work, but it’s done with the lowest quality materials and installed with little skill, so the roof will actually need repairs or a complete replacement very soon. Roofing scams after hail storms are exceedingly common. Follow these tips below and you will avoid getting scammed.
Useful tips to avoid getting scammed by a storm chasing company:
Ignore “knock on door” contractors
Roofing contractors who put the customers’ needs first rely on their reputation for work, which is why they don’t go around knocking on doors. Rather, the customers go to them. Clue #1 that a contractor is not trustworthy is that they have come knocking on your door. Politely decline their offer to fix your roof and contact a trusted local contractor to inspect your roof.
Don’t panic when they say you have storm damage
Fear is always a great motivator, and that’s what storm chasers are good at – making you fear your roof is a complete disaster and needs to be fixed immediately. If you hear a knock on your door and are confronted by someone telling you really bad news about your roof, don’t panic.
When you’ve just experienced a heavy storm with hail, it’s only natural to be fearful, but don’t act on that fear. Rather, decline interaction with contractors who knock on your door and instead get on the phone and schedule an inspection with a trusted local roofer.
Don’t let storm chasers climb on your roof and inspect it
Don’t make the mistake of allowing a storm chaser get on your roof, even if they say their inspection is free. These people don’t make money by coming back with good news. In some cases, they actually cause damage to the roof, so never let them climb on yours.
Choose a local roofing company
In some situations, a roofing contractor that is trustworthy will be in the neighborhood working on a home and notice damage to yours. They might knock on your door to let you know they can repair it, but be careful and always ask if they are local and take the necessary precautions by asking for proof of insurance, etc.
The best outcomes begin with a call to a local roofing company that has years of experience. When you work with someone that your friends and/or family know and trust, you can rest assured that your roof will be repaired or replaced by skilled workers who are accountable for their workmanship.
Some storm chasers will lie and say they are local, which is why you should find it difficult to trust anyone who knocks on your door. Only work with a contractor that you have carefully vetted and know to be trustworthy.
Check the roofing company’s paperwork
Never work with a roofing contractor that can’t prove they are insured, licensed and bonded. When a contractor fails to provide these documents, that’s your cue to walk away. Asking for these documents will usually let a scammer know they’ve targeted the wrong person. Asking for paperwork and having your contractor produce it provides assurances that should something go wrong, you’ll be covered.
Avoid large upfront payments
It’s not common for reputable roofing contractors to require a down payment for their work. Scammers make their money this way, so reputable contractors know to avoid doing anything like this. The only similarity between real contractors and scammers is that they will both offer free inspections. However, it’s the scammer who will come down from the roof requesting an upfront payment.
Don’t be pressured and don’t sign any paperwork
Don’t get yourself in a bad situation by signing a contract with a contractor. Scammers can get really pushy in this department, insisting that you need to sign a document with them before they even perform an inspection. Often, this means you’re tied to them no matter what and could even include stipulations where your insurance money goes directly to them.
You’ll notice the difference between what a storm chaser charges compared to reputable contractors. It can be quite enticing to sign a document with the storm chaser because their price is so low, but don’t fall for it. In fact, don’t even let them on your roof.
Contact your insurance company and roofing contractor
One of the best ways to avoid getting scammed is to contact your insurance company and request they send an adjuster to you. The adjuster will make an assessment of your damage and determine if you have a claim. At that point, you can research roofing contractors in your area, find one that has all the proper documents and work history and ask them to come to your home to do an inspection of the damage.
Quality roofing contractors will often work with the insurance adjuster to compare their findings, which will ensure your insurance will cover everything that it should cover. If at any point in this process a storm chaser shows up and offers to do the work for a lower rate, ignore them.
Storm chasers who are out to scam you are quite convincing – they’re basically con men/women. They have powers of persuasion, which is why it’s not difficult to be their victim. However, when you ask the right questions, they are revealed for what they are and you can avoid their scam. For example, asking for their paperwork, asking if they’re a local company, asking for references can let you know if they’re legit or not.
Furthermore, you now know that reputable roofing contractors don’t get work knocking on doors, which means when you encounter a storm chaser at your door, there’s a good chance they’re out to scam you. And while you are aware that the storm that just rolled through might have damaged your roof, wait until you talk to a trusted roofing contractor before you make any decisions – and remember than a reputable storm roofer will not be knocking on your door.
Never panic and never sign anything a storm chaser puts before you, no matter how enticing the offer might be. At VIS Exterior, we have earned our reputation as a go-to roofing contractor in the Chicago Western suburbs. We live and work among the people we work for and will continue to be the customer-centric company that strives to exceed expectations while staying competitively priced.
Local roofing company vs. storm chaser roofing company
Your local roofing company shares little to no similarities to storm chaser roofing companies that get involved in roofing company scams. Rather than performing hail damage fraud, your local storm roofing company will have your best interests at heart. You shouldn’t settle for anything but the best for your home, and just because a contractor offers a low, low price to fix your roof, the lowest bidder is rarely the reputable company.
A trustworthy local roofer will not put pressure on you or require a down payment. Instead, they’ll be friendly, use quality materials that are under warranty, offer warranties on their workmanship, will be there to address any concerns following the completion of a project and offer competitive pricing that’s not too low or too high.
Quality roofers know what they’re doing, which means the quality materials they install will last a long time. This isn’t the case with storm chasers roofing practices. If they actually stick around to do the work, they don’t really know what they're doing or they take so many shortcuts that the work doesn’t hold up over time. They cut costs by using substandard materials, which have a tendency to fail much faster than quality roofing materials.
To truly protect yourself from getting scammed, don’t entertain a conversation with the storm chaser who knocks on your door. Rather, do your research and choose a local roofing contractor with the proper documentation and references.
The reasons to hire a local roofer over storm chasing roofers
When a big storm blows through your area, only trust a local roofing contractor.
Local knowledge of building code
Every community has building codes, and while some might be similar, having knowledge of the unique rules and regulations is something only local roofing contractors will know. Don’t risk having your roof installed against code - always work with a local contractor that is experienced with all the complexities and legalities in your area.
Benefits to your community
When hiring a local roofer to take on your roofing project, you can always count on them to return if you have an issue. That’s not something out-of-state contractors will do for you, because they’re only in town long enough to make a fast dollar and move on to the next community. There is also a lot to be said about keeping your dollars circulating in the community. Your local roofing contractor has a team of roofers who live and work among the community and their dollars stay local, too. Buying local helps your local economy in many ways, as well as provides funding for important infrastructure.
Storm chasers are notorious for avoiding any expenditure related to warranties, because not only does this cost them money, it also requires them to return should something go wrong with the roofing system. Local roofing contractors offer warranties on their workmanship, but they also work with quality manufacturers of roofing materials that come with extended warranties. This means you’re covered if the roofing team makes a mistake or if the products they use fail while they are under warranty.
Local roofers are honest
One of the more nerve racking aspects of taking on a roofing project is not knowing whom to trust to do the work for you. Local roofers hold themselves accountable, as they live and work in the community and if they do something wrong, word gets around quickly. Storm chasers aren’t honest and they don’t have to be because they come and go with no regard for how well their work holds up. And the fact of the matter is that storm chasers are so dishonest that they will take your insurance money and never even do the work.
Roofers won’t pressure you like a storm chaser will
Nobody likes to be pressured into anything and local roofing contractors know better than to push homeowners into anything. This is not the case with storm chasers who use fear and their powers of persuasion to pressure homeowners into bad situations.
Local roofers don’t have to use pressure of any kind, as the best of them are so busy answering calls that there is no need for convincing anyone of taking on any type of project. Conversely, storm chasers knock on door after door until they land someone open to their talking points, which means they might have to visit dozens of homes before someone falls for their scheme. They are most successful when being pushy, so if you encounter something like that, never do business with them.
Chasers act as the middle man whereas quality roofers are on the job
Storm chasers often don’t even have roofing professionals directly linked to their “company.” Instead, they come to affected communities in large quantities, covering as much area as they can attempting to get homeowners to buy their services, which are subcontracted out to roofers from who knows where, but it’s not local.
In the cases where a roofing team will actually come in and do the work, they will be from another community and there is no guarantee they know what they’re doing, because it’s almost always really cheap labor with little experience behind them.
The best roofing contractors will help you navigate the complexities of the insurance claims. In fact, they will work directly with the insurance adjuster to go over their inspection findings to ensure everything you’ve paid in your premium is actually covered in the insurance payment. This is a huge burden off the backs of homeowners who are often lacking in the knowledge required for handling insurance issues.
Even the best roofers make mistakes. And while they are few and far between with local contractors you can trust, you know they will be held accountable and make the proper hail damaged roof repairs. Whether the issues come to light immediately after the roof is installed or if it’s a few years down the road, local contractors will make themselves available to address those issues.
Never fall victim to the persistence of storm chasers. They are driven to make money, not fix your roof. The opposite can be said of local roofing contractors who take a direct interest in making sure your roof looks great and lasts a long, long time. Local contractors are also huge proponents of accountability, which is something storm chasers certainly aren’t interested in.
Contact a professional roofing contractor to fix the hail storm damage on your roof
There can be no understating how important your roof is, as it is the first line of protection for everything in your home. In a perfect world, your roof would outlast any storm, decades of harsh sunlight and the harshest ice storms. Unfortunately, every roof has a lifespan and when it comes time to have yours replaced or repaired, call in your local roofing contractor. They have your best interests at heart and will do everything they can to ensure your roofing system is installed perfectly. They’ll also offer you a warranty on their work as well as the materials they use. Never entertain the conversation of a storm chaser that shows up on your doorstep unannounced and never let them on your roof.
When you hire VIS Exterior, you’re getting a local roofing contractor who hires local professional roofing specialists who have years of experience and are loyal to their communities. When we repair or replace a roof, we stand by our work and will be there for you if any issue arises. From storm roofing services to inspecting old roofs that might be beyond their lifespan, we know how to handle every project. That commitment to excellence has led to our being named a go-to roofing contractor in the Chicago Western suburbs.
If you want a roof that protects your home while boosting your curb appeal, or if you need storm damage roof repair services following a sizable storm, contact us at VIS Exterior.