A legitimate roofing company should be able to provide the following:
* Local references and roofing testimonials
* Business License
* Roofing credentials
* Workers compensation insurance
* General liability insurance
* Written manufacturer warranties
* Deal only with licensed and insured contractors. Verify the track record of any roofer, builder or contractor you're thinking of hiring. Ask for a list of recent customers and call them.
* Get recommendations from friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, insurance agents or claims adjusters. Also check with your local BBB and Home Builders Association to see if complaints have been lodged against any contractor you're considering.
* Take your time about signing a contract. Get a written estimate that includes any oral promises the contractor made. But remember to ask if there's a charge for an estimate before allowing anyone into your home. Ask for explanations for price variations, and don't automatically choose the lowest bidder. Get a copy of the final, signed contract before the job begins.
* Resist dealing with any contractor who asks you to pay for the entire job up-front. A deposit of one-third of the total price is standard procedure. Pay only by check or credit card - and pay the final amount only after the work is completed to your satisfaction. Don't pay cash.
* Be skeptical of contractors who encourage you to spend a lot of money on temporary repairs. Make sure there's enough money for permanent repairs.
* Ask a knowledgeable friend, relative or attorney to review a home repair contract before you sign. If you get a loan to pay for the work, be cautious about using your home as security: If you don't repay the loan as agreed, you could lose your home. Consider asking an attorney to review the loan documents, as well.
* Be careful of any company that uses door-to-door sales or leaves a flier on your doorknob or in your mailbox, promising insurance compensation for repairs.
* Phrases to watch out for: "insurance companies are compensating" and "most homeowners are unaware of the storm damage on their roof."
* Make sure to get verification of a hailstorm in your neighborhood. The National Weather Service or your neighbors are good independent sources.
* If there was a storm, find out how large the hailstones were. It usually takes hail at least 1¼ inches in diameter to cause damage, with golf ball size or larger causing serious damage.
* The homeowner should be aware of which way the storm was moving. Many Georgia homes have roofs with various angles or pitches, which means that the angles facing the storm would receive the most damage.
* Hail damage is random. Unscrupulous repair companies may use a teaspoon, small rocks or hammers to fabricate damage.
After a storm:
* Do not be rushed into signing a contract with a particular company. Get business cards and ask for written estimates for the work.
* Beware of a company that puts emphasis on how the homeowner can get a new roof paid for by the insurance company.
* Talk to your insurance agent and ask for advice on how to proceed in getting repairs made. Keep receipts for temporary repairs.
* Investigate the track record of any roofer or contractor you consider hiring. Look for companies with a good reputation in your community. Call your Better Business Bureau for help, get references and do not give anyone a deposit until you are sure they are reputable.