For most of us, the words “storm chasers” brings up an image of courageous scientists heading into catastrophic storms to gather data that will hopefully improve early warning systems and save lives. Sadly, many regions of the nation have been besieged with a different brand of storm chaser—contractors who go door to door after a storm and solicit repair business from unsuspecting residents.
At first glance, these companies may appear to be legitimate. In truth, they are often responsible for shoddy workmanship, inferior materials, unfinished jobs, lack of licensing and warranties, issues with insurance coverage—even insurance fraud. Some even go so far as to create false damage or enlarge real damage during their on-the-spot roof inspections. After all, the roof is not an easy place for a homeowner to keep an eye on what is really happening.
Storm Chasers in Florida
The epidemic of home repair scams has driven many states to pass new laws that make it tougher for storm chasers to operate. Unfortunately, Florida is not one of them—yet. Recent Florida hail storms have brought a flood of storm-chasing contractors into neighborhoods and subdivisions. Of course, Florida is home to thousands of honest, legitimate, experienced, licensed contractors. However, following a storm, these companies tend to be overwhelmed with repair work and scheduled out several weeks or even a few months. They are not driving through residential areas looking for jobs.
Even one of the red flags below should be enough to stop aware Florida homeowners in their tracks and alert them of questionable storm-chasing activity:
- Knocking on your door and asking to inspect your property
- Saying that your insurance company will pay for a new roof
- Offering to pay the insurance deductible
- Demanding a large down payment and/or offering suspiciously low prices
- Wanting to estimate damage/cost as opposed to having your insurance adjuster estimate a reliable quote
Call your insurance company first
No homeowner wants to be a victim of a repair scam or become involved with a fraudulent business. Beyond issues of personal loss is the larger picture of insurance fraud—the crime we all pay for in higher rates. After a hail storm, high winds, or any weather activity that may have caused damage to your roof or property, contact your insurance company to make an appointment for a thorough inspection by a trusted expert.
Olympus Insurance Company partners with a team of engineers who are experienced at evaluating legitimate damage as well as uncovering false claims like damage caused by a contractor’s own hammer. Olympus customers can contact their agent or the Olympus Claims line at 866-281-2242. One simple call is the first step toward a reliable evaluation of possible damage and trusted, guaranteed repair work by proven, licensed, local contractors.
One day Florida lawmakers may make it difficult or impossible for storm-chasing contractors to victimize homeowners and the entire Florida insurance industry. Until then, Florida homeowners have the ultimate protection by working closely with their insurance company in resolving legitimate claims.