Roofer, insurance, legalese, scam?
June 16, 2012 3:35 PM   Subscribe

I had a roofer give me an estimate. He would like to make a hail damage claim against my homeowner's insurance. I didn't know that we had had a hailstorm this year...

We bought a house last year. We could see that there were some issues with part of the roof. We asked the owner to repair it, which they did. This year, shingles are falling off the roof. We've had two roofers out to estimate it, one said 7500, the other 7500-8000.

The second guy (recommended to me by my father, who had this guy do his roof) said that there is hail damage and wind damage. He says that he has dealt with lots of insurance companies, and he would like to try to get them to pay for a new roof and new siding for my house. Although the siding is slightly banged up in places and a corner-piece has fallen off of a dormer, I've never been told that we need new siding.

He said that he would like to represent me to the insurance company. He will deal with the first adjuster, and then with the second adjuster if needed. He gave me a document to sign, and told to to read it first. It says that he automatically gets any check from the insurance company for repair "to the extent of work actually performed by Contractor."

My question is: does this sound scammy or otherwise disadvantageous for me, the homeowner?
posted by anonymous_account to Home & Garden (24 answers total)
 
Oh, more info which I forgot to mention: I asked him to show me the damage, and he said, no, because that is proprietary information --- that he's selling me a roof, not how to see roof damage.
posted by anonymous_account at 3:39 PM on June 16, 2012


Oh, more info which I forgot to mention: I asked him to show me the damage, and he said, no, because that is proprietary information --- that he's selling me a roof, not how to see roof damage.

That's super shady.
posted by empath at 3:43 PM on June 16, 2012 [22 favorites]


Get another roofer out to give you an estimate. If you think the other guy is padding his estimate/bill, it's fraud. Plus, you want to make insurance claims only when they're legit, your rates will go up. Personally, it doesn't sound kosher to me.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:44 PM on June 16, 2012


If the damage was done before you owned the house, your insurance won't cover it.

And a contractor who won't show you what he's going to fix? Doesn't make sense.
posted by lee at 3:44 PM on June 16, 2012


Oh, he told me that he's padding it --- he said that he will have one estimate for me if I hire him, and another for the insurance company.
posted by anonymous_account at 3:45 PM on June 16, 2012


Yikes.
posted by rhizome at 3:47 PM on June 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, he told me that he's padding it --- he said that he will have one estimate for me if I hire him, and another for the insurance company.

Yeah, you're dealing with someone who's looking to commit insurance fraud. Want to be an accomplice to that?
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 3:48 PM on June 16, 2012 [14 favorites]


I asked him to show me the damage, and he said, no, because that is proprietary information --- that he's selling me a roof, not how to see roof damage

This is one of those moments where a "WTH?" response seems apt. It's your roof and your insurance; he darn well needs to show you where the damage is. If there is hail damage, of course. Is he also going to claim that the damage happened on your watch? (As lee points out, your insurance isn't going to cover damage incurred before you owned the place.) Do a good six-million dollar man (or bionic woman) impression and run away, very very fast. This isn't just shady, it's practically in solar eclipse territory.
posted by thomas j wise at 3:49 PM on June 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Run away! Run away!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:50 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, he told me that he's padding it --- he said that he will have one estimate for me if I hire him, and another for the insurance company.

This could end up with you in prison. It would be one thing if he hadn't told you this, but at this point, you're an accomplice. Make no more contact with this person.
posted by empath at 3:53 PM on June 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Dude, you must know that if you go along with a padded estimate, you're probably (IANAL, etc.) an accomplice to fraud, right? I would report him to the attorney general and the state contracting board as appropriate.

As for getting your roof replaced, doesn't your insurance require you to notify them when the damage occurs? Just filing a claim, even if it is denied, will raise your insurance rates. And why would you think a contractor who has already admitted to being a cheat would do a good job?
posted by wnissen at 3:53 PM on June 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, imagine this scenario -- he is willing to lie to the insurance company, why wouldn't he lie to you and not complete the repairs or make it worse than it was before? What's your recourse? Sue him? You've already committed a crime by attempting to defraud your insurance company. You can't take him to court.
posted by empath at 3:54 PM on June 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


The best thing for you at this point is to alert all the necessary authorities what this guy has in mind, and would they like some help taking this guy down?

Otherwise, have nothing else to do with this guy. His behavior is causing insurance rates to increase via his fraud.
posted by bilabial at 4:04 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course this sounds scammy -- it's insurance fraud. You know that, right?
posted by Houstonian at 4:26 PM on June 16, 2012


Absolutely, 100% shady. Do not deal with this contractor.
posted by Sternmeyer at 4:41 PM on June 16, 2012


Oh, he told me that he's padding it --- he said that he will have one estimate for me if I hire him, and another for the insurance company.

Then you already know he's planning to cheat someone. Why would you think that doesn't include you too?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:49 PM on June 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


If he's willing to rip them off, why on earth would you trust him to do more than a halfassed job on your roof? This is supposed to keep the rain out of your house for years to come.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:47 PM on June 16, 2012


Scammy Scammer McScammerson.

My brother sells roofs & roof repair. They travel to areas hit by storms, go up to see the damage, then negotiate with insurance to get things resolved. But they show the homeowner the damage if they ask, don't pad estimates in either direction, and are just another party in the insurance chain, not representing the homeowner. That's all pretty normal (actually slightly more on the up & up than many similar operations).
posted by batmonkey at 5:49 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This guy sounds super shady, and while it sounds like he won't necessarily take your money and run, as others mentioned he has admitted to you he intends to commit insurance fraud (i.e. overcharge the insurance company for damage that is likely just a result of the age of the roof, not any unforeseeable act of nature/God). Your roof is definitely in need of repairs, if not replacement. Roofs are expensive to replace, but they do last for a few decades, so over time it's worth getting a quality roofer in who will help it last to its full potential and be around to honor the warranty.

You're smart to get multiple estimates and to be wary of this guy. Did the first company mention hail damage/insurance involvement in their estimate? Unfortunately this whole "I'll do it for what the insurance company will pay" or "you got hail damage, your insurance will pay" scheme is super common, but still unethical. Shouldn't they know how much it costs them to do it, you know based on their fixed hourly labor and materials charges? And the fact he won't show you the damage is super sketchy. It's your home and you have a right to know and physically see the damage before agreeing to pay thousands of dollars to fix it.

Make sure whoever you get in there has solid references locally, and not just recent jobs but ones at least a few years old. Get their phone numbers/addresses and call/visit their homes. Google the company and owner's name and look for any sketchy or negative hits (not just the BBB either!) Also really important, are they licensed, bonded and insured? Many cities require permits for new roofs, and many subdivisions/HOAs require approval or have specific guidelines for what shingles can be used, so make sure you get a guy who's going to be professional enough and familiar enough with those rules to not get you fined or in trouble. This guy sounds like he's trying to make some quick money by taking advantage of a concerned homeowner, not deliver a long-lasting well-built product. I'd avoid him.

A little more info on avoiding "Roofing Rip-offs."
posted by ilikemethisway at 6:22 PM on June 16, 2012


Shadier than your roof.
posted by flabdablet at 8:11 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact that he won't show you the damage makes me think he's making it up. The fact that he told you he's going to pad his bill to the insurance company makes me think he's super shady.

Why would you trust this guy? You could easily get fucked here.

Get someone else.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:14 PM on June 16, 2012


Unless the hail event or or gail force wind demonstrated damage to other commercial or residential property, the claim is not only invalid, but also fraudulent in nature. The most likely conclusion is your roof has full-filled its useful life, and you need to re-roof or over-lay another moisture barrier.

In most parts of the country, you can overlay a 3-tab bituminous shingle over an existing roof; however, if your home has two roofs, you will be required to tear off and re-roof.
posted by vozworth at 8:20 PM on June 16, 2012


If you're going to replace an aging shingle roof, I strongly recommend not just laying another roof over the top.

I've attended a fire in a house with metal roofing over old shingles, and I can tell you that wood that was rotted by weathering and then baked dry for many years under a layer of iron burns with a ferocity that's difficult to communicate. I expect that using something flammable like bituminous shingle instead of iron would make it ten times worse.
posted by flabdablet at 8:49 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Walk away from this guy. He's trying to scam your insurance to be able to charge a higher fee for the roof. In the (likely) event your insurance declines the claim, you will get tuck with an enormous bill.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:36 AM on June 17, 2012


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