Storm Chasing Companies, Should Riverside Residents Trust Them?
Don't be scammed by storm chasers.
Contractor duo trolled neighborhoods after storms, offering to fix damaged homes. The duo stole more than $770,000 in down payments from storm-traumatized homeowners — without fixing the homes. Many victims were elderly. These storm chasers have a new roof: They received up to 20 years in prison. This story ended in justice but all too often home and business owners are taken advantage of by less than reputable people.
You can keep scammers away. Protect your family, bank account and yourself from crooks: Stay alert, ask questions and go slow and pay attention to details.
Contact your insurance agent don’t trust that the contractor will file the claim for you. No one should be filing a claim on your insurance but you. This is a good time to talk with your agent about if you should even file a claim or not. You may need additional information like estimates from a reputable company.
After a damage to your car or home...Take photos of the damage and passengers. You can prevent fake injury and damage claims.
Contact your state insurance department or National Insurance Crime Bureau (1-800-835-6422) to report a scam. You can also report a scam with the BBB
Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts, if temporary roofing repairs are necessary. Know what your deductible is and know when to file a claim.
Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid letting your emotions get the better of you. Don't be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long-term impact. Be proactive in selecting a business and not reactive to sales solicitations. It is common for storm chasers to call and knock on your door.
For major repairs, take time to shop around and get 3-4 estimates based on the same specifications and materials. Check out references that are at least one year old, verify with your local government to find out whether or not businesses are required to be licensed/registered to do work in your area, and check with your local building inspector to see if a building permit is required.
Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim to have leftover materials from a job “down the street” or who do not have a permanent place of business. If salespeople go door-to-door, check to see if your community requires them to have solicitation permits.
Be leery if a worker shows up on your doorstep to announce that your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, have an engineer, architect or building official inspect it. While most roofing contractors abide by the law, be careful allowing someone you do not know inspect your roof. An unethical contractor may actually create damage to get work. This goes for Mold Remediation also. Contact an independent environmental specialist to perform an air quality test. Or ask if they do the test themselves or do they have a third party perform the test. If the mold inspection company does the testing or the roofer does the inspection what do you think the odds of them finding work for themselves to perform are?
Require a written contract agreement with anyone you hire. Be sure their name, address, license number, if applicable, and phone number are included in the contract. Read and understand the contract in its entirety, and don’t sign a blank contract. A copy of the signed contract is to be given to you at time of signature. What certifications does the company have?
Storm damages change based on your location. We here in the California area experience wildfires and strong winds. But in other areas they experience tornadoes or hurricanes. It's still important to be informed on the various kinds of storms that could occur in your area. Be prepared on who to contact. Have numbers handy on your phone. Inform your insurance agent and Call a trusted company, call SERVPRO of West Riverside City 951-351-8033