A huge hailstorm in May destroyed areas in Denver, Colorado, causing an estimated $1.4 billion in losses, and will be Colorado’s most expensive insured catastrophe, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA).
The destruction in Denver is not the first bout of hail-causing devastation in the world and it will not be the last. To compound on the fact that instant hail damage is already disorienting to a building operator, dealing with insurance agencies, property claims and roofing contractors post-destruction, can be daunting task to rally together in a limited amount of time.
An unfortunate part of the business that too many consumers fall victim to contractor scams insisting on providing full payment to them before work begins or creating damage that didn’t exist prior.
To help, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) has released tips for property owners and facilities managers to avoid roof scams when their buildings are damaged by hail.
IBHS states there are many things FMs can do now to defend against fraudulent roofing contractors, and they include the following:
- Look for well-established, licensed, insured and bonded roofing professionals with a federal tax identification number and a permanent address.
- Ask for a contractor’s license number and confirm with your city or county building department that the license number was issued by them and is current.
- Check to make sure the contractor is registered to conduct business in your state through the state’s business database.
- Ask to see the company’s certificates of insurance. Verify with the insurer that the certificate is valid, the contractor is endorsed for roofing work, and the contractor’s coverage for liability and workers’ compensation is current. CONSUMER TIP: Check the number of employees covered by the policy — a low number indicates the contractor will hire temporary help who may or may not have roofing experience.
- Don’t hire a contractor who knocks on your door following a storm. Most legitimate roofing contractors do not conduct business this way.
- Contact your state roofing association for a current list of licensed, properly insured, professional contractors who have committed to abiding by the association’s Code of Ethics, and have passed a nationally recognized exam that addresses roofing work on residential and/or commercial property.
- Contact your local Better Business Bureau to check for complaints filed against any company you are considering hiring.
- Be sure to get more than one estimate.
- Require references that specifically include other buildings in your area, and check them.
- Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until all the work is completed.
- Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away. Never sign a contract with blanks or statements like “see insurance estimate, etc.” — fraudulent contractors may enter unacceptable terms later.