Updated: Mar 5
Storm Chasers is a term for roofing contractors who follow the trail of devastation left by severe weather. Many are legitimate business folk, trying to make money doing repairs. Unfortunately, more than a few are also fraudsters out to take advantage of homeowners.
Storm Chasers knock on homeowners’ doors, offering roof inspections and repairs at little or no cost. They often come from out-of-state and employ aggressive sales tactics. They create a false sense of urgency that someone needs to repair their roof ASAP, or else! Stormchasers have been caught vandalizing property during their free “inspections”. Others do shoddy work that compromises the integrity of the roof and voids your insurance. Some simply take the money and run!
Get the Hail Outta Here!
After a bad hailstorm back in 2013, it was not too long after the ominous sound of ice banging on rooftops stopped that residents of Lorain County heard banging on their front door. Employees of the shady contractor had arrived, promising quick repairs and no money down! All the homeowner had to do was sign a few papers and, according to the contractor, their homeowner’s insurance would cover the bill. The homeowners didn’t have to spend a dime. No deductible, no cost, no hassle. Basically, the contractor was offering a free rooftop.
A few months later, the attorney general stepped in, suing the contractor for all the damaged rooftops still waiting to be replaced. The contractor was eventually forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. The homeowners had been cheated.
What makes this cautionary tale more upsetting is that the contractor was local! The company wasn’t some fly-by-night organization, driving in from another state in the wake of a storm. Stormchasers can come from anywhere.
When a Storm Hits!
A massive, towering bank of clouds appears above your home like a hostile flying saucer, bombarding your home with wind and ice. Once the assault on your roof is over, you go outside to assess the damage. Apart from a few downed branches, your property looks okay. Still, the hail was intense and you worry about unseen roof damage.
The next day, that anxiety turns to fear when the contractor stops by your home, offering a free inspection. “We’re finding a lot of damage in your neighborhood,” the contractor admits, shaking his head sadly. He urges you to accept his free inspection on the spot. Any delay could lead to leaky rooftops, water damage… he keeps rattling off reasons to accept his services before it’s too late.
Contact Your Insurance Agent First!
Resist that panic to do business with a storm chaser and call your local insurance agent instead. They deal with storm damage all the time, and they know who to trust. Your agent will recommend local contractors covered by the same insurance company. These vetted contractors will provide honest and expert inspections of your property.
Not all storm chasers are out there trying to cheat homeowners. Many are hardworking contractors and roofers looking for legitimate work in areas ravaged by inclement weather. Regardless of their motives, always consult your insurance company before signing papers or accepting a free inspection. No matter what a storm chaser might promise you, they cannot make your deductible disappear like a gust of wind. Unless you’re the Wicked Witch of the East, free rooftops do not drop out of the sky. You may have been hit by a storm. Don’t get hit by a storm chaser, too.