Most recently, I have come across people who are being taken advantage of by contractors who are “storm chasers.” I have studied insurance and I know quite a bit about the subject. May I give you some helpful advice? Read the following story so you will understand the ramifications of not using a local and reputable contractor.
Last year, on May 27, 2017, our area had a severe hail storm. The thunderstorms were so severe that it hailed on homes as well as automobiles. All of a sudden, “Storm Chasing Contractors” started appearing out of the woodwork, coming from as far as North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, as well as the North East and even Arkansas. These contractors were not local companies. They showed up at people’s doors and told customers that if they filed a claim, they would handle the claim for them. Unfortunately, many of these contractors did not tell the homeowner exactly what would be done for that money. Many did not even give a written estimate. They only used the insurance company’s Claim Estimate for the damages. These types of contractors should be avoided if possible.
For instance, I heard of one lady who got a legitimate estimate to replace her entire roof for $10,500 from a local company. But instead of using the local, well known company, who was a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and who was accredited with an A+ rating, the highest rating the BBB gives, she went with a “Storm Chaser Contractor” who was not local and who charged her $16,800 to repair the roof. According to the claims adjuster that was telling me about this case, the insurance company paid the “Storm Chaser Contractor” $16,800 for the roof as well as other damages. They just learned of the $10,500 estimate from the local company within the last two weeks. The lady also had other damages that was written in the estimate, but the “Storm Chaser Contractor” did not repair those items. Now according to this adjuster, the lady wants the insurance company to pay for those damages. This lady has learned a very hard lesson that insurance companies will only pay ONE TIME for a claim, not twice for the same loss.
So here is the issue and the problem. When you use “Storm Chasing Contractors,” you may not be getting a good deal. In this example, the Storm Chaser over-charged roughly $6,300 more for a $10,500 job. Not only this, but the contractor told her that they would take care of everything, which he did not! His company has moved on to another area and is not reachable. She still has work to be done, but must now pay for it out of her own money because she “TRUSTED” an out-of-State “Storm Chasing Contractor” with her insurance claim. Another problem here is that she did not get her contractor to give what they were going to do in writing. Not only has she lost out on the money paid to the contractor, but she really has nothing in writing to prove what they verbally promised to do.
Here are some tips to remember:
- Always use a local, well established company, one that has been in business for a while.
- Use a company that has a Better Business Bureau Accredited Rating of A+. The BBB has vetted them as to how they will handle customer disputes.
- NEVER, EVER, sign your claim check over to any contractor until all the work is completed.
- Get an estimate to exactly what is going to be done. Get the contractor to sign the estimate. If they will not give you an estimate, then walk away.
- DO NOT tell the contractor what the Insurance Claims Adjustor has estimated. If the contractor is professional, he or she will look at the damages and give an independent appraisal of what it will take to fix your property.
- Never pay any one up front for materials. If they are legitimate, they will be able to obtain the supplies prior to working the job. One exception is if you are using a reputable local company and you know where to find them.
- Do Not use a handyman. Use a specialist, someone who has replaced many roofs.
- Remember, it is YOUR HOME! Make wise decisions and good choices. Do your homework and do not settle on the first person, especially if they come to your door going house to house.
Hopefully, these tips will help you secure reputable contractors. We have seen many times in the past where these “Storm Chasers” will come to town, take deposits, and then leave with your money. Unfortunately, these types of people have ruined it for the legitimate contractors who work hard to build a successful and honest business.
If you want to investigate a contractor, I highly recommend going to the Better Business Bureau website at www.BBB.org and in the SEARCH field, type in the company name or their telephone number. Also, GOOGLE has become one of my business tools in researching contractors. If a roofing contractor appears to be a “storm chaser,” GOOGLE the name of the company and their telephone number. If they have stiffed someone before, most likely people have filed complaints against them or their company. Please don’t be the next story! Do your research and check these contractors out. It is your home and your insurance claim. Guard them carefully.
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Copyright © January 26, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.