When a powerful storm or a vicious tornado tears the house down, homeowners are often left out in the cold, forced to try and pick up the pieces and get their homes in order again. Even worse, it now appears that some storm victims are being ripped off by contractors overcharging them for unnecessary repairs.
The USA Today reported that legislators and insurance firms are warning homeowners to be wary of any contractor that tries to pressure them into signing an expensive contract for repairs on their home following a storm.
The contractors have been dubbed “Storm Chasers”, who typically seek out homeowners immediately following a storm, knocking on their doors and trying to persuade them to sign a contract for storm damage repairs – repair work that is in many cases, not needed.
In response, a number have states have already passed or are considering new legislation to protect homeowners from “storm chasers” following a storm. Iowa is one state that is leading the way, with legislators proposing a bill that, according to USA Today:
“Would void repair contracts signed when the contractor represents himself as working for an insurance company, promises to rebate a deductible, or fails to give customers a disclosure about how to cancel the contract.”
In addition, Iowa legislators have added a provision in the bill that allows the state to prosecute such scammers under consumer fraud laws. Elsewhere, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota have all passed similar legislation to prevent contractors from taking advantage of homeowners.
Bill Good, Vice President of the National Roofing Contractors Association, told USA today that while most contractors were trustworthy, there will always be a few bad eggs out to scam homeowners:
“There are some very good contractors who set up their businesses to be able to respond to storms, but there are good ways to do it and bad ways to do it.”
Good advises homeowners that they can reduce the likelihood of being scammed by taking appropriate precautions when dealing with contractors immediately after a storm. He says that homeowners should ensure the contractor is licensed to operate in the state, and they should refrain from signing any documents which give the contractor authorization to negotiate with their insurers.