4 Tips to Protect Yourself From “Storm Chasers”
Severe storms can be devastating to homeowners. From missing shingles, to damaged siding, to massive trees destroyed on the property – recovering from these damages is stressful to say the least. Your sole desire is for everything to be repaired, cleaned up, and to return to normal. The yearning for this is often what storm chasers use to reel in their customers.
What is a Storm Chaser?
A “storm chaser” is a contractor who goes door to door following a severe weather event offering various services to help repair your home if you’ve suffered storm damages. While some contractors may very well be legitimate, some do not have your best interest in mind. Storm chasers are known for their scams and false promises.
What are some signs of a storm chaser?
- Limited-time offers. Don’t be pressured to hire a contractor based on a “good deal.” High-pressure tactics are a telltale sign of storm chasers.
- Non-local roofers. Be leery of roofers from out of state. They are often watching weather events to travel into towns that may have suffered significant damage so they can prey on distressed homeowners.
- Paying for the deductible. This is simply too good to be true, and it’s considered insurance fraud. If a contractor offers to absorb your insurance deductible, it’s solely to retain your business.
- Exaggerated damage. Storm chasers are known for “adding damage” where it doesn’t exist to obtain additional insurance money. This behavior carries criminal and civil penalties.
How Can I Protect Myself from Storm Chasers?
- Ask to see proof of insurance/check license: Always ask to see proof of insurance and be sure to check their license. Any licensed contractor should be able to provide proof of their insurance since it is a requirement. If their name on the license doesn’t match the name of their business, then it should be an automatic cause for concern.
- Research: The best way to find a reliable contractor is to do your own research by checking out if they have a website, any reviews, and their history can ensure if the company is legit. Asking your close friends and family for recommendations they may have will also help be a trusted guide to a suitable candidate and will help avoid a potential scam.
- Get multiple quotes: Getting multiple quotes is always a good rule of thumb regardless of storm chasers. By getting multiple quotes you can ensure you aren’t being overcharged for a service and you can decide what price will work out best for you. It is also recommended to get it in writing as well so that way you not only have a paper trail, but you have a copy of it as well in case something were to go wrong.
- Obtain a proof of payment: It may seem like a no brainer, but having proof of payment is a crucial piece of information during a claim. If you’re paying by cash, make sure you get a written receipt that states “paid”.
Altogether, it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to repairing any storm damage. Rockford Mutual maintains a list of reputable contractors we are familiar with to share with policyholders in the event of a claim. While you are not required to use one of our recommendations, you can feel safe in doing so.