You’re Not the Only One Watching the Weather

If you hear thunder rumbling in the distance or see lightning flashing across the sky, chances are it’s probably a Spring storm. There might be a huge gust of wind or a tornado thrown in for good measure because it is the seasonality that IS Cincinnati and parts of the Midwest. BBB® says if you’re not careful, you could be only a wind or hail storm away from becoming a victim of a storm chaser.

Storm chasers are people who follow severe weather hoping to get business from victims whose homes have been damaged by storms. They follow weather reports and sometimes will arrive in town before the storm even hits and are ready to pounce as soon as the weather breaks.

How it works: After the storm hits, they come to your door because they “just so happen” to noticed you have storm damage on your roof, siding or property in general. The story they’ll tell you is they want to take a look, give you an estimate to repair the damage, then offer to contact your insurance company to do the work – but only if you sign a contract with them first.

Sometimes, however, the insurance company might refuse the claim because they didn’t have a chance to inspect the damage prior to the repair. Even if the claim is approved, you could still be on the hook because the storm chasers used shoddy materials or the workers have little training on the actual repair causing more problems in the future leaving you with no way to contact the company who is now long gone scamming other people halfway across the country. So not only are you dealing with wind damage, the trauma of going through putting your belongings back together, you now have to see if you can get the repairs done to your home correctly. Yuck.

Ideally, before any weather hits, check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. If you find yourself in this situation after a disaster and are approached by someone driving around, here’s what you do:

  • Avoid letting your emotions get the better of you. Don’t be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long term impact – you are allowed to say no.

  • Be pro-active in selecting a company and not reactive to sales solicitations.

  • Raise your guard to door-to-door workers who claim to have left-over materials from a job “down the street” or who do not have a permanent place of business.

  • Look for out of state license plates or if they do try to push a contract on you, look at the name, address, license number and if applicable and phone number on it. This should give you a pretty good indication where they operate.

  • Read and understand the contract in its entirety, don’t sign a blank contract and a copy of the signed contract is to be given to you at time of signature.

Start With Trust. If  you have power and cell service, look for Accredited Businesses on bbb.org.

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About Sandra Guile

Sandra is the PR Specialist for BBB Cincinnati, promoting BBB's message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, blogging, media relations, press releases, web content and other written materials. Her goal is to connect with consumers and business owners in a trustworthy environment and encouraging best practices.