When the clouds clear after a big storm, you may find your home damaged and your life disrupted. It’s a stressful time, and unfortunately, there are people out there ready to take advantage of your situation. One of the major threats you might encounter are “storm chasers” – companies that follow severe weather events, offering quick and often shoddy repairs. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself and your home from these potential scams.
The Warning Signs
1. Aggressive door-to-door sales tactics: Storm chasers often go from house to house, offering their services. Be wary of any contractor who pressures you to sign a contract quickly, especially if they claim that it’s necessary to prevent further damage to your home.
2. Unmarked vehicles: If the contractor’s vehicle has out of state plates (many companies in the DMV area use vehicles from MD, VA, and/or DC) or lacks professional signage, that could be a sign of a storm chaser. Legitimate local contractors will have a physical local business location and marked professional vehicles.
3. Upfront cash demands: Be cautious of any contractor who demands full or substantial payment upfront, especially in cash. It’s common practice to pay a portion up front, with the rest due after the job is completed to your satisfaction.
4. Offers to pay your insurance deductible: In some cases, a contractor might offer to pay your insurance deductible as part of their sales pitch. This is often a sign of a scam, and it can be illegal in many areas.
5. Lack of references or credentials: A trustworthy contractor should have positive references and be able to provide proof of licensing, bonding, and insurance. If a contractor can’t or won’t provide these, that’s a red flag.
Protecting Yourself and Your Home
1. Do your research: Before hiring a contractor, check their references and credentials. Look for reviews online. Impact Roofing is fully licensed, bonded, and insured.
2. Contact your insurance company first: After a storm, get in touch with your insurance company as soon as possible. They can provide guidance on their claims process.
3. Get multiple estimates: This can give you a better sense of the going rate for your repair work. Be suspicious of any quote that seems too good to be true – it probably is. Make sure the contract includes full scope of work and what materials will be used for the job.
4. Read contracts carefully: Be sure to read all documentation carefully before signing anything. Don’t sign a contract with blank spaces, and make sure you fully understand all terms and conditions.
While storm chasers can seem like a quick solution in a time of stress, they often do more harm than good, leaving shoddy work and even legal complications in their wake. By being vigilant and taking the time to find a reputable, local contractor like Impact Roofing, you can ensure that your home is repaired properly and that you’re not left out in the cold when the storm chasers move on to their next target.