DES PLAINES, Ill., March 16, 2020 — The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) have partnered to educate homeowners on what actions to take if they suspect they have property damage caused by severe weather, like hail, and to how to avoid hiring a fraudulent roofing contractor, ahead of the spring storm season.
Insurers pay billions of dollars each year to cover losses caused by severe weather but, unfortunately, sometimes those payments end up in the pockets of unscrupulous contractors. Those contractors follow the path of damage caused by severe storms around the country soliciting business door-to-door. They often prey on the most vulnerable homeowners, including the elderly, pressing them to sign contracts and hand over payment on the spot only to never be seen again or fail to do the repairs as promised. Unscrupulous roofers may even ask to go up on a roof to inspect it for damage for the sole purpose of intentionally damaging it to get business.
At a state-of-the-art research center in Richburg, SC, IBHS researchers create hail with the same properties found in nature. This information is used to make it easier for homeowners to select roofing products that can better withstand the severe weather risk in their area. NICB experts recently joined IBHS researchers in the hail lab to examine the differences between a roof damaged by a hailstorm and a roof damaged by a contractor just looking to collect payment.
“Severe weather happens frequently, and IBHS conducts research to identify ways to reduce the damage it causes. Often, we unfortunately see unscrupulous contractors adding to the challenge,” said Dr. Anne Cope, chief engineer at IBHS. “The first call a homeowner should make when they suspect severe weather, like a hailstorm, has caused damage to their roof is to their insurance agent, who can help them navigate the process if repairs are needed.”
“Insurance fraud impacts us all in the form of higher insurance costs. As we approach these spring-like storms, we know fraudulent contractors will be out there looking to take advantage of people who are in a vulnerable situation,” said NICB Chief Operating Officer Jim Schweitzer. “We encourage homeowners to contact their insurance company or agent if they have damage to their property, and always be suspicious of a contractor who tries to rush you into signing a contract or to start work without providing any references.”
If you find that your roof does have storm damage, take steps to strengthen it so that you don’t have to go through the damage-repair cycle again,” Cope added. “Homeowners have a choice about what goes on their roof. Choose a high performing impact resistant shingle to reduce future damage.”
If you suspect you have damage to your roof caused by severe weather, including high-wind and hail, follow these tips:
HIRING A ROOFING CONTRACTOR?
- Call your insurance agent first if you believe you need a new roof or repairs because of storm damage.
- Get more than one estimate. Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them.
- Work with only licensed and insured contractors.
- Demand references and check them.
- Ask to see the salesperson’s driver’s license, write down the license number and their vehicle’s license plate number.
GETTING THE WORK DONE
- Get contract terms in writing. Cost, time schedules, payment schedules, guarantees, work to be done, and other expectations should be detailed.
- Never sign a contract with blanks.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished, and ensure reconstruction is up to current code.
ABOUT THE INSURANCE INSTITUTE FOR BUSINESS & HOME SAFETY (IBHS):
The IBHS mission is to conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss. Learn more about IBHS at disastersafety.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.