* Be careful of any company that uses door-to-door sales tactics or leaves a flier on your door knob or in your mailbox promising insurance compensation for repairs.
* Phrases to watch out for include "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 the size of the hailstones. 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 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 their work. Call your Better Business Bureau for the most current information on individual companies.
* 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 personally, 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. Secure references, and do not give anyone a deposit until you are sure they are reputable.
* Take your time about signing a contract. Get a written estimate that includes any oral promises the contractor provided. Remember to ask if there is a charge for an estimate before allowing anyone into your home. Ask for explanations for price variations, and do not 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. Do not pay cash.
*A legitimate roofing company should be able to provide the following information:
- Local references and roofing testimonials
- Business license
- Roofing credentials
- Workers compensation insurance
- General liability insurance
- Written manufacturer warranties
*Licensing requirements differ for each state. Contact your North Carolina or South Carolina professional licensing boards to determine if your contractor is required to have a license and whether that person is, in fact, professionally licensed. For North Carolina, the contact information is 919.571.4183 or www.nclbgc.org, and for South Carolina, the contact information is 803.896.4696 or www.verify.llronline.com.