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Spotting Scams: Storm Chasers

In states where there is extreme weather such as high winds and regular hailstorms, homeowners are wary of storm chasers. But in Maryland, we only have a few bad storms each year and homeowners are much less aware of roofing scams that can happen after inclement weather. Learn what a roofing storm chaser is and how you can avoid them.

storm chaserWhat is a Storm Chaser?

Storm chasers are predatory contractors that travel around the country to areas that were hit by bad weather looking for homeowners and insurance companies to exploit. They watch for areas which that have hail or wind damage because they know that insurance companies will easily pay for roof replacements in those areas.

Storm chasers often go door to door telling homeowners that they may have storm damage and then offering a new roof for an extremely low cost, or even free. Then, these salespeople will use high pressure tactics to convince homeowners that their home exteriors are damaged, and they can get a free new roof paid for by insurance. It is true, insurance will likely pay for your new roof if your area has experienced hail or wind damage but think twice about the deal you’ve been promised.

Homeowners can get burned in a few ways by a storm chaser. In the best-case scenario, they will get a new roof that seems alright but only reaches the bare minimum of code requirements in your area. It will usually be made with the lowest quality products, and corners will be cut so critical parts like flashing will fail faster, and air circulation and insulation in the attic will not be taken into account. So, the roof is not truly restored to its original pre-storm condition or to modern standards.

Because the work is done as cheaply as possible, it is common for a roof to require future repairs and even full replacements. At that point, the insurance company has already paid for a new roof, and so homeowners are left to deal with the aftermath out of pocket. Additionally, because out of town subcontractors are used for the work, the storm chaser vanishes after work is complete, or in the worst cases even during a project. So, the homeowner is unable to reach them for repairs on shoddy work, or to fulfill promises on warranties.

storm roof damageHow to Spot a Storm Chaser

Now that you are aware of storm chasers, find out how to avoid them below.

  • Look at the Name
    A major giveaway of storm chasers is a generic name, specific to the inclement weather you have recently experienced. Most legitimate roofing companies will have some form of branding attached to the name. Be wary of companies with names like “Number One Hail Experts” that suddenly show up in your neighborhood. Do your research! In some scenarios, storm chasers will even pay local companies a fee to use their name to mask that they are from out of town. It is always best to perform a quick check on anyone who solicits you at your home.
  • Check Online Reviews
    A legitimate roofing company will have some online presence with reviews on websites like Angie’s List and Home Advisor. Additionally, check their rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and see how or even if the company has responded to any complaints. 
  • Find Out Where the Main Office is Located
    Many times, after a large storm, companies will come into the area from out of state papering neighborhoods with signs and flyers. Look the company up online and see if there are any reviews in your area. If their main office and business are located in another state, they are likely here for a short period of time to get some quick business and move on.
  • Consider How Long they have Been in Business
    Whenever you are choosing a contractor, look at their business history. Many roofing companies fail within the first five years, but their original pitch includes a long-standing workmanship warranty. Unfortunately, when the business folds, it leaves homeowners with workmanship warranties that no longer hold value. If the company was just recently created, be wary of the promises that they make.
  • Ask to See their License and Certificate of Insurance
    Any time you are getting work done on your home, make sure the contractor is licensed and insured to work in the state of Maryland before you sign the contract. You’ll want to make sure their insurance and general liability policy will cover the project being done on your property. But more importantly, it is illegal for companies to engage in home improvement in Maryland without a license!

While there are bad storm chasers out there, it is also important to note that they are different than storm restoration companies. Unlike a big box roofer, who will try to sell you a new roof, a good restoration company focuses on fixing damage and has experience working with insurance companies. These companies also travel the country, supplementing the local workforce to meet the increased demand. However, these companies will likely be the most expensive as they are trying to bill your insurance at the highest possible rate. If insurance doesn’t cover your roofing issue, this may not be your best option either.

Brothers is a full-service remodeler that offers both roof repair and replacement. We have been repairing and replacing roofing in Maryland for over 30 years. If all you need is a simple roof repair, we won’t try to sell you a new roof. Whether a recent storm has created a roofing issue, or your roof is overdue for replacement, schedule a free, no pressure consultation so that our roofing experts can guide you to the right solution for your home.