by Brianna Crandall — July 10, 2017 — The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) has released tips for property owners and managers to avoid roof scams when their buildings are damaged by hail. IBHS is part of a group of nonprofit, government, and business organizations working together to fight roofing contractor fraud in Colorado with a new public education campaign called No Roof Scams.
Introducing the tips, IBHS noted that a major hailstorm in May devastated areas of Denver, causing an estimated $1.4 billion in losses, and will be Colorado’s most expensive insured catastrophe, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA). An overwhelming number of the property claims include roof damage. The roof is every building’s first line of defense against Mother Nature, and roofs need to be as strong as possible to withstand severe weather events, especially hailstorms, says IBHS.
Unfortunately, these severe storms can bring out the worst in people, especially unscrupulous roofing contractors who scam consumers needing to repair or replace their storm-damaged roofs, points out the No Roof Scams group. These fraudsters will often make false promises, insist on full payment before work begins or is completed. Sometimes, they will even create damage where none existed. While most contractors are honest and reputable, others are not. In fact, the highest number of consumer inquiries to the Better Business Bureau of Denver-Boulder involve selecting reputable roofing contractors.
IBHS is studying the science of hail to help reduce property losses from hail damage by improving the quality of roofing material products and construction methods. In addition, the IBHS Hail Field Team is deploying in Colorado to gather “ground truth” data on hail by measuring the actual size, weight, density, fall patterns and other details of hail stones, which impact the damage hailstorms cause. The team also is working with Pennsylvania State University to develop an algorithm using dual-pol radar to improve meteorological forecasting of hail events. This will provide numerous benefits including helping reduce hail-related fraud.
As researchers and others continue building our defenses against hail, IBHS says there are many things property owners and managers can do now to defend against fraudulent roofing contractors:
- Look for well-established, licensed, insured and bonded roofing professionals with a federal tax identification number and a permanent address.
- Ask for a contractor’s license number and confirm with your city or county building department that the license number was issued by them and is current.
- Check to make sure the contractor is registered to conduct business in your state through the state’s business database.
- Ask to see the company’s certificates of insurance. Verify with the insurer that the certificate is valid, the contractor is endorsed for roofing work, and the contractor’s coverage for liability and workers’ compensation is current. CONSUMER TIP: Check the number of employees covered by the policy — a low number indicates the contractor will hire temporary help who may or may not have roofing experience.
- Don’t hire a contractor who knocks on your door following a storm. Most legitimate roofing contractors do not conduct business this way.
- Contact your state roofing association for a current list of licensed, properly insured, professional contractors who have committed to abiding by the association’s Code of Ethics, and have passed a nationally recognized exam that addresses roofing work on residential and/or commercial property.
- Contact your local Better Business Bureau to check for complaints filed against any company you are considering hiring.
- Be sure to get more than one estimate.
- Require references that specifically include other buildings in your area, and check them.
- Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until all the work is completed.
- Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away. Never sign a contract with blanks or statements like “see insurance estimate, etc.” — fraudulent contractors may enter unacceptable terms later.
For more No Roof Scams resources, including a BBB Accredited Business Directory, a Hail Preparedness Toolkit, and the members of the No Roof Scams Coalition, visit the BBB – Denver/Boulder Web site. You can also follow #NoRoofScams.
The National Storm Damage Center also offers free resources to assist property owners and managers before and after violent storms.