Sunday 24 February 2019
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Hail Damage—Avoiding the “Storm Chasers”

It starts raining cats and dogs and then you hear it: the thump-thump-thump sound of hailstones bouncing off of your home. While small hailstones may seem innocuous enough, they still can cause damage, especially to your roof. There’s no way to protect your roof against Mother Nature’s wrath and you don’t want to be taken in by some unscrupulous, fly-by-night roofing company. A reputable, local roofing company can help you determine the amount of damage your roof has sustained and the best way to deal with it. We caught up with some roofing specialists from Salazar Roofing to discuss hail damage and how to avoid being scammed. Here is some information we came away with and decided to share with you today.

A few years ago, we were hit with an unprecedented summer rainstorm, one that brought a fair share of hail along with it. One the storm had cleared, the “hail specialists” came out in full force, the majority of them being out of state companies. Trusting your home’s care to a company that may be there just to make a quick buck may leave you needing to fix your roof all over again, costing twice as much and causing twice as much hassle.

These companies, often referred to as “Storm Chasers” go from place to place after a volley of hail, looking for homeowners to prey upon. Many of these companies are legit, but many are just there to take money and blow town—much like the storms they chase. The problem is that when a hailstorm hits, homeowners are too concerned about having the damage fixed fast, before any additional issues arise. By the time they determine the roof has put together in a slipshod manner, the roofing company is long gone. You can attempt to file a claim after the fact, but since the company is usually from out of state, it is a difficult task finding them and holding them accountable.

A lot of these “Hail Specialists” either take the money and up and disappear or stick around to repair the roof—with glue and toothpicks. If you have your roof repaired, it is always in your best interest to have it inspected afterwards to ensure that the proper materials and accessories were used. Problems arise when haphazard roofing companies skip steps, causing roofing issues that show up later. Consider that an out of state roofing company may bring a few workers along with them, but the majority will need to hire additional help to get all the jobs done quickly. These hired hands may not even have roofing experience, and you won’t be able to tell if the work is substandard just by looking at it from afar. After a hailstorm hits, finding a City or County Building Inspector with free time will be virtually impossible, something the dishonest storm chasers are counting on.

While you may feel safer working with a local company, there are some situations to consider. Some Storm Chasers flood into town and hook up with a local contractor, giving the appearance of a “local” company. They will even go so far as to buyout or lease the local roofing contractor’s business name for a few months just to make themselves sound legitimate if you research them. Instead of rushing to get the roof repaired or even replaced, take the time to make sure the company you hire genuinely has ties to your hometown. Most out of town “experts” will try to pressure you into a quick service when it is your insurance company’s money they are actually after. If a company offers to fix or replace your roof and you did not solicit their business, move along. If they promise a “quick turn” or claim to be “hail experts” or “hail specialists”, send them packing. Any true roofing company will take the time to show you any damage, provide you with estimates and also let you research them. The company that is in a hurry to get the job done is mostly likely just looking for a quick score. A reputable roofing contractor will tell you up front—most hailstorms don’t produce large enough hail stones to cause enough damage to make your roof leak, at least not right away. While there may be substantial damage to the roofing materials that will eventually need repair, rushing to have your roof fixed may leave you out in the cold. Consider, too, your normal climate: when the crazy hailstorm raged its way through Phoenix, roofing companies were jockeying for homeowners to get their roofs repaired. However, Phoenix isn’t known for its rainfall, so the expediency to get a roof mended or replaced would not have been an emergency.

Note, too, that if you do have your roof repaired immediately, the roofing company may not have the proper materials, especially if they are working on many houses in your neighborhood. Instead of waiting for suppliers to send them proper roofing materials, they will use substandard materials, just to get the job finished fast. Your insurance company may encourage you to move forward with the work because they want to close the claim as quickly as they can, but it is in your best interest to wait until you feel comfortable with your contractor before you have any work done. Read your insurance policy to determine the amount of time you have to make a claim.

When a storm hits, the contractors will come out, trying to entice you to use their company. They will offer special deals, and maybe even try to bully you into using their services. They may present themselves as inspectors, claims specialists—whatever title they feel will get you to sign up with them. Instead, use the time to research roofing contractors in your area, read reviews, ask for references and even check out roofs they have repaired or replaced. If you notice water stains on your ceiling or on your walls, you will want to contact a roofing expert sooner than later because it means the integrity of your roof has been compromised. This doesn’t mean to sign up with the first company that comes along, but you may need to speed up your timeline. Make sure to take photographs for your insurance company to justify any claim you may make.

Hail damage can be burdensome, especially if you live in a climate where bad weather can throw you into panic mode, but just remember that you should hire a roofing company you have contacted after adequate research. Don’t rush into an expensive roof repair or replacement without doing substantial homework to make sure you are properly covered—literally and figuratively!


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