Last month severe storms tore through Boulder County with torrential downpours along with golf ball sized hail. In Louisville and Lafayette, hailstones smashed through car windshields and shredded roofs, siding, and backyard furniture. Soon after the storms moved on, the inevitable door knocking of roofing contractors followed in their wake.
You have significant hail damage to your roof, they tell you. Your insurance company will likely pay for a new one. With all of the damage in your neighborhood, roofing companies are getting booked up for months. By signing a contract today, you can get your job scheduled and they will deal directly with the insurance company. With one signature, you will get a new roof within weeks and will hopefully minimize the hassles associated with filing an insurance claim by yourself.
It’s an alluring vision to be sure. But there are several issues with this offer that should raise your suspicion. Here’s what you should keep in mind if your property needs repair after disaster.
Don’t Let Your Contractor Choose You. There’s another breed of storm chaser than the radar-mounted car-driving pros featured on the Weather Channel. These are contractors that flood into areas of the country that suffer widespread catastrophe. You may remember in 2013 that we were inundated with flood remediation and cleanup crews. Some of these itinerant contractors charged exorbitant fees with substandard results. With a roofing contractor, you want an operator who will be here for years to come to stand by their workmanship. “Don’t choose the contractor that comes knocking on your door,” recommended Brent Friesth owner of Bolder Insurance.
Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List all have roofing reviews. Checking these resources along with the Better Business Bureau can lead to the roofers who will perform quality work for you. This is also an area where local insurance agents can help. “We sent out a list of four roofing contractors to our clients soon after the storms hit,” said Friesth. You may purchase one or two roofs in your entire life, while local insurance agents deal with roofers every month. Use their experience to your advantage.
Deal Directly with Your Insurance Company. For most of us, getting on the phone to file an insurance claim is not a pleasant prospect. Indeed you’re right to pause before you to make that call. Many insurers will open a claim on your behalf simply in response to your inquiry about the possibility of a covered loss. There are stories of people losing their claim-free discount and having simple inquiries entered into their CLUE report, which is like a credit report for the insurance business, for such a call. A claim on your CLUE report can even result in higher quotes from other insurance companies when shopping around your coverage.
For that reason if you can first get a reputable contractor out quickly to see your home, that should be your first call. They can tell you whether the damage to your property is significant enough to merit a claim. Then you should call your insurance agent. While some roofers will encourage you to “leave the dealings with the insurance company to us,” you would be wise to ignore this advice. Once the insurance adjuster pays a visit to your home to assess the loss, you should request at least three bids from local contractors. “While it makes sense for the roofing and insurance company to communicate, the homeowners should stay in the loop,” pointed out Friesth.
If Something Seems Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is. Offers by roofing companies to pay your insurance deductible are most likely insurance fraud. At best the roofing contractor inflates their prices to the insurance company and credits your bill, which could make you party to a fraud. At worst, the roofer could use substandard materials or shoddy work to generate enough profit to kick some of the “savings” back to you.
Also beware of quotes that do not specify pricing, but instead state “whatever the insurance company will pay.” While it’s tempting to accept this guarantee from the roofer, it’s clear sign of a contractor that cuts corners.