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Inside Insurance: Hail damage roof scams
By David Colmans

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported in late April that roof repair scams involving hailstorm damage increased 407 percent nationwide between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of this year. The homeowner is duped into believing that the roofer will help him get a new roof from the insurer.

This is how it usually starts.  A doorknob hanger tells the homeowner that recent catastrophic hail and windstorms struck the area and the home may have severe damage from the storms.  The hanger goes on to report “insurance companies are compensating.” Also, “most homeowners are unaware of the storm damage on their roof.”  Here’s the kicker: The roofer or construction company offers a “free roof inspection and property inspection for storm damage and insurance compensation.” There’s a toll-free number to call “today for your free roof inspection.”

Some things to consider:
— What out for any company using door-to-door bell-ringers or leaving a hanger on the front door. That’s a strong indicator of an insurance scam in the making.

— Know how large the hailstones are such as “pea-sized” or “quarter-sized.” The National Weather Service spotters or your neighbors are a good source if you don’t know. Smaller hail, does not cause roof damage. It usually takes at least an inch and a quarter diameter hailstorm to cause damage and up to ping-pong size or larger to cause serious damage.

— Look around your property before climbing on your roof. Is there hail damage to vehicles, the air conditioner, the siding on your home or are plants damaged? If there is no collateral damage around your property, there is a strong likelihood that there may be no serious roof damage either. The homeowner should be aware of which way the storm was moving, too. Many of the homes in Georgia are not built with a flat roof. Rather, they have various angles or “pitches” which means if there is any damage from hail, it is likely that the angles of the roof facing the storm would be more prone to damage, not the other side.

— The word of an individual who is attempting to obtain your business should not be the only deciding factor whether there is serious enough damage to justify a roof replacement. This may be obvious but watch out. Hail damage is very random. Damage to a roof that has patterns not entirely random may be man-made. Unscrupulous repair schemes include the use of a teaspoon, small rocks or bal-peen hammers. This type of phony damage can appear on the siding of a home as well as on the roof.

— Hail damage does not always require an entire new roof. The roof scam puts emphasis on how the homeowner gets a new roof paid for by the insurance company. These scammers damage the reputation of honest roofers and construction companies, dupe homeowner who have no way to fairly judge the amount of real damage or even if real damage actually occurred.


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