Anthem, AZ is a favorite stomping grounds for storm chasers. The problem is: Most of our storms aren’t so bad. This isn’t to say that any tornado or monsoon should be taken lightly, but if you’re filing a claim to fix your roof, there’s a good chance that this is your first time navigating the insurance-and-contractors field. Storm chasers love that.
So what is a storm chaser, and how do you spot them?
- A storm chaser is a fly-by-night huckster looking to make a quick buck on desperate homeowners. They offer to do the repairs if you’ll sign them on as a sole contractor, meaning that you won’t be able to stop the payment of a check if they do a shoddy job, or don’t do the job at all.
- They come right to your door. Generally speaking, this is not what a legitimate company is going to be doing. Some do, but most don’t.
- Online research turns up nothing (or nothing good) about the company.
- They rely heavily on pushy sales tactics. Before you’ve even had the damages appraised, they’re pushing a contract in your face and asking to go up on your roof.
- They speak in dire language about the severity of the damages. Even if you’ve got nothing to worry about but a few torn shingles, they’re going to spin you a sky-is-falling story to scare you into signing right away.
- They’re reluctant to give a quote. These guys are looking to game the insurance system to charge your provider as much as possible, so giving you a quote right now mean giving you something that you can hold them to.
- They try to avoid the topic of windows. It’s easy to do a shoddy job on a roof, something that will hold for a week or so. How often does a homeowner look at their roof anyway? Windows are a little trickier.
The best way to keep from getting taken for a ride by these guys: Just play it by the book. Follow these steps to manage the aftermath of a storm:
- Know your policy. Unless otherwise stated, you’re probably covered for wind damages. But some damages, like flooding, may require extra protection. Read your policy and call your provider with any questions.
- Prevent any further damages. Insurance will generally cover the initial storm damages, but if you leave your valuables near a broken window where they can be subjected to further rain damages, that’s on you.
- Call your insurance agent and file a claim before talking to contractors. Your appraiser will assess the damages and get you taken care of.
- Research your contractors. Online reviews, BBB and yellow pages listings, a legit website, anything to prove that they’re on the level.
- Hire local. Storm chasers generally move from town to town. Local contractors know better than to try and swindle their own neighbors.
Storm chasers aren’t hard to spot, and if you do wind up being hooked by one of these guys, you have options, including a three-day window to cancel the whole deal, or just stopping payment on the check. Stay calm, keep a cool head, and don’t be afraid to slam the door in a pushy huckster’s face.