Beware of Hail Hunters & Storm Chasers

This past weekend, several sections of Will County experienced thunderstorms that produced very small “pea-size” hail. As I watched these storms roll in, I knew that I am going to soon start getting phone calls from my customers about unscrupulous contractors who knock on doors leading you to believe that you have hail damage, when you likely do not have any damage at all.

Unfortunately, storms often bring out opportunists who use the situation to take advantage rather than help. In the insurance industry, we call them Hail Hunters. Storm Chasers.

Unfortunately, storms often bring out opportunists who use the situation to take advantage of homeowners. They may offer to help our customers file their claim, offer fee-based services (that insurance companies offer for free), offer to cover the insured’s deductible, or offer other “benefits”. We have even seen situations where these opportunists say that they can get the policy holder more than they are entitled to receive. One example I have seen is where a contractor, once a contract has been signed with them, has suggested that they can get our insured a new roof when there is little or no actual storm damage.

These Storm Chasers will build a story that frightens the homeowner and may try to get them to enter into a contract to save their home. As always, we advise all of our customers to never sign anything offered by a contractor until after a reputable adjuster has contacted the insured and offered guidance.
If a Storm Chaser knocks on your door, here are a few items to remember:

• Don’t sign anything until you’ve spoken with your insurance agent. Oftentimes, they try to get you to sign their contract which is actually a Public Adjuster Contract, not a Roofing Contract. If you sign this contract, you are signing all of your rights away to the claim to the Public Adjuster and you would be LOCKED into only being able to use that Public Adjusters roofing company, In addition to this, you will have to pay them a commission of up to 30% of the value of the claim for their services.
• Never, ever let these people up on your roof (I can’t emphasize this enough).
• Many times, they will offer to waive your deductible. Not only is this unethical, it is also illegal.
• In order to have real hail damage to your roof where the insurance company would pay to replace your roof, the hail needs to be at least quarter size or bigger, which is nowhere near what we saw in yesterday’s storm.
• If you feel like a claim needs to be started, you have 12 months from the date of the storm to start the claim. So please don’t feel rushed to file a claim and don’t let them rush you to make a decision.
• We always recommend that our customers not have these storm chasing companies do the work. Hire a local reputable roofing company to do the work. We have several reputable local companies that we can recommend to you.

If you feel that you have damage caused by a storm to your property, you should contact any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency and file a claim. That claim will be reported to your insurance company and an adjuster will be assigned.

In addition, CIMICO has put together a solid list of tips to help protect you:

• If you feel that a storm has damaged your property, report the loss to Langlois Insurance Agency as soon as possible. Provide as much detail as you can. Be sure to provide phone numbers so an adjuster can contact you.
• The adjuster will explain the coverage available under your policy. If you have questions about your coverage, please always feel free to contact any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency.
• Keep in mind that your coverage may not be the same as your neighbor’s coverage.
• If asked to obtain repair estimates, try to obtain several from local contractors. Estimates should be detailed and specific about the work to be done.
• Hire a reputable, local contractor to do your work. Local contractors live in your community. They want you to be pleased with the work they do. If problems arise, they will be available to deal with those problems.
• Know your contractor. Ask for references and check them out. Drive by prior jobs to see how the work looks. Ask the owner if they are satisfied with the work.
• Do not pay the contractor the full amount of the repairs before the work starts. Reputable contractors may request partial payment when the work begins. This helps them cover the cost of materials and labor. Holding the balance due until the job is done provides incentive for the contractor to complete the work and move on to the next job.
• Before the work begins, request certificates of insurance for liability and worker’s compensations. Ask any of us at Langlois Insurance Agency to review the certificates with you.
• Again, don’t sign anything until you’ve spoken with your insurance agent!
• Finally, ask yourself, does what this representative telling me make sense? Does it sound too good to be true?

Contractor representatives often prowl neighborhoods looking for roofs that may indeed need replacement, but it could be from normal wear and age. Scare tactics may be used to convince the insured that unless they do something immediately their home will suffer serious damage. High-pressure sales tactics may be used to convince the insured that they must sign up today or risk losing a great deal.

If you are ever in one of these situations with a Storm Chaser, please, call us at #815-485-2106. We always love to hear from our customers!

Warmest Regards,
Matt Langlois