Several Midwestern states in the past 2 years have passed "storm chaser" laws to protect consumers from unreputable fly by night contractors who roll into town after a bad storm and take advantage of homeowners anxious to get the repairs started on their homes. Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Kentucky, Iowa and South Dakota have all passed laws while Wisconsin and Kansas are currently considering similar legislation.
Why is this so important?
The answer is that the laws protect the consumer from an out of state contractor who is not licensed or bonded and who simply registers their company online with the state on a temporary basis. They may repair your home quickly and cheaply but probably not correctly or to code. In most cases, the storm chasers come in and do shoddy work and the consumer ends up with a bad repair job and a contractor who can’t be found later when something goes inevitably wrong with the repairs.
Most of the states who have passed the storm chaser laws have the same basic guidelines written into the laws:
Roofing Contractors or their agents are prohibited from telling a homeowner they can negotiate a claim with an insurer on the behalf of the homeowner – unless they are a licensed public adjuster – which a majority of roofing contractors are not.
Roofing Contractors are prohibited from representing themselves as working for an insurance company.
Roofing Contractors are prohibited from offering to rebate or waive a deductible for a homeowner.
Roofing Contractors are prohibited from enducing a homeowner to sign a contract with any gift more than $100.
Roofing Contractors must offer a cancellation clause in the roofing contract if the insurance company notifies the homeowner that part or the entirety of a claim isn’t covered. This differs from state to state with anywhere from a 3 day to a 10 day cancellation clause required.
Roofing Contractors must provide the homeowner with their address, telephone number, license registration, and a detailed description of all damage and repairs.
What can you do as a consumer until the State of Ohio passes a similar law to protect yourself from storm chasers?
- Make sure the roofing contractor is licensed in the State of Ohio.
- Make sure the roofing contractor has a permanent place of business here in Ohio.
- Never pay cash and never sign a document authorizing the contractor to negotiate directly with the insurance company on your behalf
- Never let a roofing contractor on your roof to inspect for damage without doing a visual check for yourself. Hail or wind damage is easily visible in most cases from the ground level and if you have hail damage you will see pock marks in your shingles about the size of the head of a hammer and wind damage will show bowing or blown off shingles. Do you see why you shouldn’t let them up there to inspect and then magically you have hail damage?
- Only a qualified agent or claims adjuster can say for sure if you have hail damage. All hail storms are recorded by the insurance companies for the date they occurred.
- The best advice is to always use qualified local reputable contractors.
Not all contractors who arrive quickly after a bad storm are dishonest but you have to be smart and vigilant about who you hire or let on your roof, especially in these trying economic times. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact our agency and we’ll be happy to help.