"Partnerships like this are critical in helping consumers understand the importance of making sure the contractor they hire is legitimate," said NICB Chief Operating Officer Jim Schweitzer. "We always encourage homeowners to check with their insurance company or agent first to make sure the contractor they are hiring is not going to take their money and run," added Schweitzer.
In some cases, the contractors will take the victim's money, make limited repairs or no repairs at all, and disappear – leaving the property owner victimized a second time.
"Past trends during economic downturns have shown us that fraud and property crimes rise when financial hardship is highest—taking advantage of our fear and our most vulnerable senior populations by perpetrating disaster fraud," said Carole Walker, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association. "We see it after every storm here in Colorado, where unscrupulous contractors go door-to-door to try to get victims to let them repair their roofs or other hail damage. With the arrival of COVID-19 we could see new twists on traditional scams that prey on property owners using high-pressure sales tactics from fraudulent contractors."
Colorado Consumers: know your rights under legislation passed in the state in 2014 to protect you from high-pressure tactics!
Those include the right to know the following:
Scope of work and materials to be provided.
Cost for the same based on damages known at the time the contract is entered into.
Approximate dates of service.
Roofing contractor's contact information.
Identification of contractor's surety and liability coverage insurer and their contact information.
Contractor's policy regarding cancellation of contract and refund of any deposit including a rescission clause allowing the property owner to rescind the contract for roofing services and obtain a full refund of any deposit within 72 hours after entering the contract.
A statement that if the property owner plans to pay for the roofing services through an insurance claim, the contractor cannot pay, waive or rebate the homeowner's insurance deductible in part or in whole.
A statement that the contractor shall hold in trust any payment from the property owner until the contractor has delivered roofing materials to the job site or has performed a majority of the roofing work on the property.
Hiring a roofing contractor?
Call your insurance agent first if you believe you need a new roof or repairs because of storm damage.
Get more than one estimate. Never let a contractor pressure you into hiring them.
Work with only licensed and insured contractors.
Demand references and check them.
Ask to see the salesperson's driver's license, write down the license number and their vehicle's license plate number.
Getting the work done
Get contract terms in writing. Cost, time schedules, payment schedules, guarantees, work to be done, and other expectations should be detailed.
Never sign a contract with blanks.
Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is finished, and ensure reconstruction is up to current code.
NICB consumer resources:
For a free brochure with tips to avoid post-disaster fraud, click here.
For useful checklists, including how to spot flood and salvage vehicle scams and post-disaster contractor repair schemes, click here.
For free consumer access to the vehicle salvage records of participating NICB member insurance companies who collectively provide 88 percent of the auto insurance in force today, access NICB's VINCheck.
RMIA insurance preparedness resources:
Do an annual insurance check-up to be financially prepared BEFORE the next big storm.
RMIA and NICB are part of a group of nonprofit, government, and business organizations working together to fight roofing contractor fraud in Colorado #NoRoofScams. Click here to learn more.
REPORT FRAUD:Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422)or submitting a form on our website.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL INSURANCE CRIME BUREAU:Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, learning and development, government affairs and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,300 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $525 billion in insurance premiums in 2019, or more than 82% of the nation's property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 95% ($253 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.