Property-casualty insurance fraud costs all Americans roughly $34 billion a year, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (CAIF). Fraud is only one way to ruin your reputation. When bad weather damages your home’s roof, avoid having your insurance claim turned down. Get prompt, professional attention by keeping away from these bad decisions.
Selecting a storm chaser is the easiest way to have your insurance claim fail. CAIF highlights these hallmarks of a storm chasing roofer:
- The contractor offers lowball bids such as “special hurricane deals” and “limited time offers”
- The work performed results in shoddy repairs using cheap, low-quality materials
- The roofing crew does more damage than repair, deliberately attempting to inflate the claim
- The contractor disappears with your down payment after finishing only part of the work, or the crew does no repair work
- A representative pressures you to sign over your claim to the contractor; inflated claims are made without your knowledge
- The contractor may even sue your insurer without your knowing
How can you guarantee your insurance claim will fail? When a stranger knocks on your door after a storm, offering “affordable” repairs if you go through your insurance company, do not ask for a physical address, proof of licensure, evidence of liability insurance or workers compensation insurance. Just go with the Chuck in a Truck who showed up!
Remember when your daughter’s softball team practiced in your backyard and pounded three dozen softballs onto your roof, leaving behind all those dents and dings in the shingles? If you tack those onto a storm damage insurance claim, you have committed insurance fraud.
An insurance claim is for a single event. Storm damage repair is intended to repair only the roof damage caused by a hurricane, tornado, or high winds. Trying to add preexisting damage to your claim will trigger a denial.
Preexisting damage may seem difficult to detect, but insurance adjusters and roofers know the signs:
- Wear patterns
- Exposed surfaces
Those softballs that dented and damaged the shingles may have happened a year earlier, causing the shingles to change color or grow algae in the depressions. By contrast, recent storm damage leaves fresh scars. An adjuster can easily see preexisting damage and will deny a claim that tries to wedge that damage in on the storm claim.
Another tactic used by homeowners is to view an impending storm as an opportunity. You have a legal responsibility to minimize potential damage to your own property. A large, dead, overhanging tree is yours to deal with, before the storm. If you know it is a threat to your home but do nothing about it, you invite an insurance claim denial.
Say you know high winds are headed your way and you put patio furniture on a low-slope roof over your front porch. The high winds toss the metal furniture around, tearing up the “flat” roof and possibly damaging your siding. Your claim could be denied because you not only did not secure your property; you added to the danger.
Most roofing contractors are honest and hard-working members of the community. They do not participate in insurance fraud. The tiny fraction that do, however, bring down the reputation of the entire industry. These common fraudulent contractor schemes usually lead to denied insurance claims:
- The contractor “generously” offers to pay your deductible
- The contractor offers “free” work or “deeply discounted” work as long as you go through your insurance company
- The contractor’s starting bid is unusually low
- The inspection report indicates mysterious, unseen damage only the contractor can see
Your deductible is yours to deal with, not the contractor’s. When an unscrupulous contractor tries to somehow discount or rebate your deductible, you stand an excellent chance of having your claim denied.
Storm damage repair has a bottom line cost. If you had no insurance, what would the repair work cost? With insurance, why does the claim magically inflate to double or triple the cost?
An unusually low starting bid will trigger an insurance adjuster’s attention. The fraudulent roofer knows that more costs will be added in as the job develops.
A common tactic to inflate the insurance costs is to “uncover” more damage than previously thought. If a tree falls on your roof, you definitely will face issues with rafters, sheathing, and roofing. A fraudulent contractor may “find” that the shattering force telegraphed throughout the roof, or caused damaging vibrations in a distant chimney, and so on.
Pro Roofing and Siding is your trustworthy, reliable and local roofer. We work with insurance companies every day. We provide written estimates, adhere to promises, and value our customers. We welcome your scrutiny. We can answer your questions about insurance claims, our workmanship, and our company. Please contact us today!