A hailstorm just blew in through your neighborhood. Suddenly, there are people at your door telling youthey can repair your home’s damage quickly and easily. What would you do?
While some hail damage may be obvious, you can’t always trust that someone simply showing up toyour door has your best interests in mind.
If you’ve recently battled a hailstorm, here is what you need to know about hail, roof damage andcommon scams.
When the storm has passed and it’s safe to go outside, inspect any damage that may have occurred toyour car or home. While some hailstorms can cause severe damage, others can leave little to no harm atall. The size and density of a hailstone will determine the severity of damage you’ll find after a storm.
Signs of hail damage to a car:
• Chipped or cracked windshield
• Dents on the roof or other areas of your vehicle
• Other dings or paint scratches
Signs of hail damage to a home:
• Dents in gutters or outside vents
• Chipped or cracked windows or skylights
• Damage appearing on one side of the roof
• “Bruises” or dark spots appear on shingles in a random pattern
The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recommends contacting your insurance agentimmediately if you suspect hail damage. Your agent should know the ins and outs of your specific policyand can help you determine whether you should file a claim to help cover the cost of repairs. Be sure to record the date and timeframe the storm occurred and take photos that can help supportyour claim.
You may spot hail damage in a few different places on your property including roof, siding, windows,outdoor furniture and vehicles. While some damage can be easy to spot, you may not always be able tosee the damage hail has done to your roof. An insurance adjuster knows the difference between roofdamage from hail versus regular wear and tear. We recommend letting a trained and trustedprofessional up on your roof to check for any potential problems.
WHAT IS HAIL FRAUD?
Having to deal with weather damage is bad enough. Unfortunately, there can also be fraudulent roofingcontractors that emerge after a storm, sometimes called “storm chasers.”
They often appear quickly after a storm and claim that your roof has been seriously damaged by windand hail. Many “storm-chasing” contractors are transient, moving around the country following recentstorm activity to increase their chance of landing a sale.
Storm chasers may point out pre-existing damage, create their own damage, or say that there is damagewhen there isn’t.
Here are some signs that you should think twice:
• “Free” inspection: Someone wise once said nothing good in life is free. While reputablecontractors might offer free inspections with no strings attached, be cautious that somefraudsters might use this tactic to get on your roof and point out damage that isn’t there.Worse, some might create their own damage.
• They pressure you: Those in the con business often pressure you to make a quick decisionduring a difficult or stressful time. Give yourself space and time to contact your insurance agentand make the right decision.
• The contract has blanks: Your contract should be detailed and include an estimate on cost, workschedules, payment schedules, listed contractors and more.
• Upfront payment: While it’s reasonable for any contractor to ask for a down payment, fraudulent contractors often demand all or a large amount of the payment upfront. Sometimes,they’ll take your cash and dash after performing shoddy work – or no work at all. Trustworthycontractors will often organize a payment schedule that works best with your schedule.
If you do find damage to your roof or other areas after a storm, a trustworthy contractor will work withyour insurance company to help fix the damage.
HIRING A CONTRACTOR AFTER A HAIL STORM
As you begin your search for a contractor, here are some tips:
• Get multiple estimates. Don’t rely on a single estimate as being the one with the best price – orthe best work. Do some research and get estimates from three to four different contractors. • Ask to see their license and proof of insurance. Make sure both are real and up to date. • Ask for references. Has this contractor worked on similar projects? Do their references speakhighly of them?
• Take the right steps. Hiring a contractor can be stressful, especially when you’ve discoveredsome recent damage from a storm.
Depending on several factors, including how long the storm was, the size of the hail and the amount ofdamage it caused, the average cost for a hail damage claim can vary. Generally speaking, most homeowners insurance policies cover damage from hail and wind caused by storms. Coverage canvary, however, for example, manufacturing defects that existed prior to the storm might not be coveredunder a hail damage claim. Check with your insurance agent about the specifics of your policy.
Uncertainty is part of life, but that’s why you have insurance. Talk to an insurance professional aboutyour options to protect your home and your wallet.