Filing an Insurance Claim for Storm Damage: The Wrong Way

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Contractor & homeowner shaking hands & discussing insurance claim for storm damage

Roofers and landscapers are knocking on your door. Tree limbs and missing shingles lay scattered across your neighbor’s yards. You start seeing tree trimmers and landscapers clean up the neighborhood. Roofers tear offing and putting up new roofs. Your house seems fine, but you start to wonder: Is my roof okay? Should I file a claim for storm damage? 

If you ask a roofing contractor for their advice, most roofers will ask you to sign everything over to them and let them handle the claims process. Sounds nice and simple, doesn’t it? 

As easy as that may be, we recommend filing a claim yourself. Signing everything over to your contractor can lead to many complications.

Why You Shouldn’t Assign Your Claim to a Contractor

Contractual Obligation
Roofing contractor on a bare roof

For one, you are contractually obligated to use that roofer, no matter what. If someone knocks on your door, tells you that you have storm damage, and asks you to sign something, then something is fishy. By signing, you are nine times out of ten actually agreeing to hire that contractor. They pressure you into moving forward with the claim before you have a chance to think about it or research your options. In some instances, they may even tell you the form is just to sign off on them inspecting your roof. Only later, you find out you were signing a contract to hire.

Let’s say you signed with them. Partway through the process, you start to dislike how they handle the claim, or you read a bad review, or they are booking multiple months out. If you’ve signed over the claims process to them, you’re contractually obligated to use them for the project.

We’ve had multiple homeowners call Artisan who are looking for a way out of their contract with a storm chaser. Once they started working with the contractor, they started to see red flags. After doing some research, they realized they should have worked with a different contractor. They fight to leave the contract, and request to work with us or another local roofer.

Thankfully, it is sometimes possible to get out of a contract with a storm chaser, but it is a messy and complicated process.

Insurance Fraud
Insurance adjustor inspection

Secondly, the contractor could fake a storm damage claim and commit insurance fraud on your behalf. Sounds far-fetched, but it unfortunately does hapen. 

A few years ago, a homeowner called us to inspect their roof for storm damage. We went out and used a drone to inspect for damage and take photos. The homeowner filed a claim, and the insurance company scheduled an adjuster meeting with us.

We arrived at the appointment. The adjuster went up and inspected the roof. But he came back down incredibly disgruntled.

“Have you walked on this roof?” He asked us.

“No, sir. I used a drone for my inspection,” Our sales rep said.

The adjuster turned to the homeowner. “Has anyone else been on this roof?” He asked.

The homeowner thought for a moment and replied, “Yes, actually. Another roofer knocked on my door and said I had storm damage, and I let them go on my roof to look.”

“Well,” the Adjuster replied. “He tampered with your roof and damaged some shingles so it would look like storm damage, but it’s very clearly man-made damage.”

Yikes.

What happened next? The insurance company filed a lawsuit against that roofing company. 

Luckily, the homeowner hadn’t signed anything with that company, so he wasn’t entangled in the insurance fraud. Insurance covered the damaged shingles as a minor repair, and everything turned out alright (for the homeowner, at least).

But imagine if the homeowner had entered a contractual agreement with the contractor? The insurance company could have also held him liable.

You might be thinking, “The homeowner was fine. So what if the roofing contractor fibs to insurance? I pay a lot for homeowners insurance and deserve a new roof after that storm.”

If the roofing contractor is willing to take advantage of the insurance company to maximize their profits, what is to keep him from taking advantage of you?

This leads us to our next point. 

Money & More Fraud
Insurance check

If you give a contractor control over the claim, they will receive all the money from insurance, regardless of how much the job actually costs the contractor.

Even so, they might also cut corners on the work itself to further increase their profits. 

Lastly, they often offer to “pay your deductible,” but will then take shortcuts to cut costs. What’s more, they will lie to insurance about how much the job cost in order to cover the cost of your deductible. A.k.a. More insurance fraud.

Let’s go over two pretend scenarios: one where the contractor handles your claim, and one where you handle the claim.

Scenario 1: Contractor Handles Claim

Insurance approves a $7,000 payment to replace your roof.

Your deductible is $1,000.

Roofer’s normal estimate: $5,000.

Roofer’s actual estimate: $8,000.

The contractor does a bare-bones replacement, skipping important components of your roofing system like flashing, and hiring subcontractors for the job. They tell you they’ll pay the deductible, but then go to insurance and ask for $8,000.

The results? They “pay” your deductible, commit insurance fraud on your behalf, and walk away with an extra $2,000.

Scenario 2: Homeowner Handles Claim

Insurance approves a $7,000 payment to replace your roof.

Your deductible is $1,000.

The roofing estimate: $5,000.

Youthe homeowner walk away with an extra $1,000.

Which scenario would you choose?

What we aren’t saying

Please don’t hear us wrong. There’s no need to swear off roofers or keep every single person off your roof. 

We also are not condemning all roofers who help you through the claims process, and we are not saying every roofer that handles your claims process will do this. 

What we are saying

With that in mind, in our 20 years of experience in the construction industry, we have found that these practices are still all-too-common. Not only that, but we’ve found that many companies that aren’t technically “storm chasers” still operate like this. 

So, next time a storm hits, and roofers start knocking on your door, don’t just let them go on your roof. If they ask you to sign something or ask for your insurance policy information, run the other way. 

“Treat it like your Social Security number or your driver’s license. Don’t hand that information over, it’s private and it’s your policy,” recommends Steve Shattner with The Compass Agency

Don’t let the roofer pick you. Pick your roofer. Do some online research to find a solid, local company you can count on. You have the power to decide who goes up on that roof. 

What we recommend

In our next post, we will go over in detail how to handle your insurance claim, the right way. We’ll go over the insurance claim process as well as the benefits to filing a claim yourself. 

Questions? Let us know in the comments!

Need a storm inspection? Click here to request a free inspection. At Artisan, we offer free storm inspections with no contractual obligation. We will inspect your roof, offer our honest assessment, let you file the claim, and help however you need us to from there. 

in Storms

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