Everyone loves a good deal, but if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
In the wake of severe storms, fraudulent roofing contractors will wander affected neighborhoods in search of uninformed homeowners. Often, the fraudulent contractor will tell you that your roof is irreparably damaged and needs to undergo a full replacement, even if it has only sustained minimal damage. Then, they’ll offer to waive your insurance deductible or provide a “free roof.” Homeowners who are unfamiliar with the insurance process can easily become entangled in an insurance scam and be charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.
Roofing scams are dangerous for a few reasons. First, they’re illegal. The roofing contractor who develops the fraudulent scheme can be charged with fraud but so can the unassuming homeowner. Second, insurance companies operate on trust in their customers. When homeowners engage in fraudulent behavior, insurance companies protect themselves by raising premiums for everyone and will even exclude hail damage from their plans.
You can avoid insurance fraud by following these tips:
1) Hire an Accredited Roofing or Construction Company
Door-to-door salesmen and unaccredited roofing or construction companies do not have a guaranteed standard of excellence. Before hiring a roofer, research companies in your area. The Better Business Bureau has accreditation information for companies as well as reviews and ratings. You can also find valuable information in Google Reviews or on Yelp. A simple search could save you from hiring an unaccredited roofer and dealing with charges of fraud.
2) Familiarize Yourself with Your Insurance Plan
Understanding your insurance plan and having a strong relationship with your insurance company will help protect you from insurance fraud. Make sure to know exactly what your deductible is and when it needs to be paid; then make sure to pay it on time and in full. Stay in close contact with your insurance company when you have questions or concerns to prevent fraudulent contractors from taking advantage of you.
3) Check the Final Insurance Invoice
Carefully checking all insurance materials and staying informed throughout your repair or replacement is one of the best ways to protect yourself from scams. If your deductible is not subtracted from the total cost of your repair on your final invoice, you could be at risk of being charged for conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
4) Do Not Pay Up Front
Wait until work on your repair or replacement has already started before paying your contractor, whether they are accredited or not.
Home repairs are expensive, and cheaper deals are alluring. The consequences of insurance fraud, fines of up to $10,000 or a prison sentence between 5 and 99 years, far outweigh any perceived benefits. Your best bet is to pay for a high-quality repair or replacement and work with your insurance company rather than against it.