Year after year, homeowners fall prey to roofing company scams. Your roof is your first line of defense against the elements, so of course, you want to make sure it is in good working condition. But many homeowners have limited experience finding good roof repair contractors and can become victims of common roofing scams.
The good news is that many of these scam artists follow the same tricks. Here are some of the roofing red flags to look out for when considering roof repair or replacement, particularly during this Spring storm season.
Stop the process if a contractor is offering to cover your insurance deductible or give you a free incentive. Scam artists will bill you less and bill your insurance company more. Part of that surplus will cover the free incentive they offered you. The surplus of money from the insurance company is cash in their pockets. This is fraud, and could be prosecuted, which means trouble for you.
Further, if any roofer offers you insurance adjuster services just say no and ask them to leave. Plain and simple, it’s illegal for anyone without a public insurance adjuster’s license to act as an insurance adjuster. However, there are some roofers who will act as an adjuster to get more money from the insurance companies and homeowners.
There are some home improvement companies who have a licensed insurance adjuster on staff to help you with your claim. There are also highly experienced roofers, who work with these home improvement companies, who will meet with your insurance adjuster and help them find all of the storm damage on your property. This is not illegal.
Some contractors will inflate their profit margins by charging full price to perform repairs by using poor (2nds), sometimes left-overs or used, materials that only create additional work down the line. In many cases, the repairs appear completed cosmetically, but have only concealed a worsening problem that will cost the homeowner much more money to fix later. A roof is a multi-layered structure and it’s easy for a scammer to make sure the outside looks good with some paint or new shingles without properly repairing the underlying structure or using substandard materials.
Not Removing Shingles
Roofing over an existing roof is called an overlay. It is the process where roofers install a new roof over your existing one (adding a new layer of shingles), which means that there is no tearing off of the old roof. It is important to know that this process adds hundreds to thousands of pounds in weight to the structure. Some Insurance carriers will not insure a home with multi-layers. It’s a also important for you to know with this additional weight on the sheathing it makes the surface more susceptible to rafters, supports and separations that then allow leaks to occur. At times it may be a slow leak that seeps in overtime causing extensive damages in the long run.
Roof replacements are the most common practice, and is the best way to have your roof replaced correctly. This process consists of removing all roofing materials, the ventilation, components & fixtures from the sheathing and being able to visually inspect all roofing surfaces and to replace any damaged wood at that time. This process of removing all components then will have all new felt, shingles, flashings, ventilation, components & fixtures.
Since roof replacements include tearing everything off, it can be done on every roof, no matter the number of shingle layers – they are all going to be removed in any case.
A professional and honest roofing contractor should always inform you of your roofs condition by showing you their findings they found upon your roofs surface. That is why a roofing inspection should always be done before any action is taken on the roof.
After a thorough inspection, a roofer will come to you with a report or a recommendation, explaining why your roof is or isn’t in need of a replacement or a need for a repair should be considered. You can ask for a few roof estimates from different contractors just to be sure that you are doing the right thing, so that you can choose the best roofer for yourself.
Furthermore, if you already have two layers of shingles because you have fallen for a previous roofers folly, then make sure to have that conversation of all shingle layers being removed.
Paying Your Deductible
This is the favorite in the world of scamming because homeowners don’t realize it’s a scam and they go along with it so easily. This scam is used by scammers, out of state roofers, so-called roofers and even some legitimate local roofing companies and that’s why you need to know who you can trust.
The scam goes just like this: the representative will start off by telling you that you don’t have to pay your insurance deductible. If you read your insurance policy, it clearly states that you are indeed responsible.
The scammer will tell you they have a way around it by saying they will pay you for placing a sign in your yard and call it an advertising fee; they won’t collect the final payment at the end of the job; they will let you keep the depreciation when the insurance company sends it, or various other arrangements.
What makes this so illegal is the scammer has promised all of the profit and more out of the job, so they have to make it up by using inferior materials and/or stolen materials, they don’t do all of the work that is laid out in your adjuster report and bill for it, and/or overbill your insurance company.
Once you submit the invoice you are guilty of fraud and depending on the amount of money you helped the scammer steal from your insurance company will determine if it’s a misdemeanor or a felony punishable by up to two years in jail plus fines! You will be the one to face the legal repercussions because you are the one who submitted the fraudulent document.
Your insurance company agrees to allow a certain amount for you to get your home repaired. This states that the fair market value of the total cost of the repairs is the amount of money they are going to pay plus the amount of your deductible (this is your out-of-pocket expense).
They will normally release some money to get things started and send you the rest of the money after the work has been completed in full according to the adjuster report. If you get a discount on this work (such as the amount of your deductible) this discount must be shown on your final invoice.
If the roofer didn’t complete all of the work as laid out in the adjuster report and includes all of it on the final invoice, this is a fraudulent Invoice. If this takes place and you don’t notify your insurance company, you are guilty of submitting a fraudulent invoice.
The best thing for you to do is to understand that you must pay your deductible and call a legitimate reputable home improvement company that will take care of you and your storm damaged home. At all costs, avoid contractors who offer to cover your insurance deductible completely.
Tips for Avoiding Roofing Scams
Your best defense against a scam is to check out the company’s website, look for online reviews and see what others have to say. A quick internet search can give you good insight.
Choose a company with an excellent reputation for honesty. They should be willing to provide you with references.
Ask for insurance details. Ask if they are a part of the local Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, and at best the National Roofing Contractors Association. You can verify their credentials pretty easy with a simple online search. An honest, reputable company will have no problem providing their paperwork for you to see and you can also verify if they are registered in your city as well.
Avoid rushing. If you see something going wrong with your roof, repair it before it’s at the point of being an emergency. This will give you time to get multiple quotes and allow you time to choose the right company to work on your roof.
When it comes to insurance matters, it is best for you to speak to the insurance company directly. This will prevent you from being a victim of insurance fraud