A brochure may be left on your doorknob or in your mailbox telling you that catastrophic hail and windstorms struck the area and you may have severe damage to your roof. The roofing company may show up at your door and offer to help you get your insurer to pay for a new roof.
If you haven't seen a major hailstorm pass through your neighborhood, be cautious about this information. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported last year that more than four times as many roof repair scams involving hailstorm damage were reported in the first quarter of 2009 as were reported in the same period of 2008.
Some roofing companies operating in Georgia are known to use aggressive and misleading tactics in order to gain business. The company often will not explain that the homeowner has to pay a deductible to get the repair or replacement done. And, of course, it may not mention that the homeowner might lose a discount and have to pay higher insurance premiums.
Some things to consider:
* 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.
* Look around your property before climbing on your roof. Is there hail damage to vehicles, siding or shrubbery? If not, damage to your roof is unlikely.
* The homeowner should be aware of which way the storm was moving. Many 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.
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
* Written labor warranties