DENVER | June 8, 2017 – Exactly one month ago, a major hailstorm devastated areas of Denver causing an estimated $1.4 billion in losses, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA). Even more recently, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that Colorado ranks number two in the country for insurance claims filed due to damage from hail storms to homes, businesses and vehicles during the past four years.
The May 8 massive thunderstorm with baseball-size hail slammed the Denver metro area during the evening rush hour, and will be Colorado’s most expensive insured catastrophe, RMIIA noted. An overwhelming number of the property claims include roof damage. The roof is every building’s first line of defense against Mother Nature, and Colorado’s roofs need to be as strong as possible given all the severe weather events that occur here, especially hail storms.
Unfortunately, these severe storms can bring out the worst in people, especially unscrupulous roofing contractors who scam consumers needing to repair or replace their storm-damaged roofs. These fraudsters will often make false promises, insist on full payment before work begins or is completed. Sometimes, they will even create damage where none existed. While most contractors are honest and reputable, others are not. In fact, the highest number of consumer inquiries to the Better Business Bureau of Denver-Boulder involve selecting reputable roofing contractors.
The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) is studying the science of hail to help reduce property losses from hail damage by improving the quality of roofing material products and construction methods. In addition, the IBHS Hail Field Team is deploying in Colorado this week to gather “ground truth” data on hail by measuring the actual size, weight, density, fall patterns and other details of hail stones, which impact the damage hail storms cause. The team also is working with Pennsylvania State University to develop an algorithm using dual-pol radar to improve meteorological forecasting of hail events. This will provide numerous benefits including helping reduce hail-related fraud.
As we continue building our defenses against hail, there are many things consumers can do now to defend against fraudulent roofing contractors.
- 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 Colorado at https://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/BusinessEntityCriteriaExt.do.
- Ask to see the company’s certificates of insurance. Verify with the insurer 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 the Colorado Roofing Association (CRA) http://coloradoroofing.org, which maintains a current list of licensed, properly insured, professional contractors who have committed to abiding by the CRA Code of Ethics, and have passed a nationally recognized exam that addresses roofing work on residential and/or commercial property.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org/denver) 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 homes 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.
- Before you sign a contract, be sure it includes all the requirements established in Colorado Senate Bill 38.
Organizations participating in the No Roof Scams campaign include:
- Better Business Bureau – Denver/Boulder
- Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
- Colorado Division of Insurance (Department of Regulatory Agencies)
- Colorado Roofing Association
- Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety
- National Insurance Crime Bureau
- Property Casualty Insurance Association of America
- Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association
No Roof Scams Resource Link: https://www.bbb.org/denver/hail/
Follow #NoRoofScams this summer to learn more about how consumers can avoid being the victims of unethical roofing contractors and find reputable roofing contractors.