Avoiding Storm Damage Repair Scams

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Thursday severe weather swept through the Tennessee Valley, now for many the search for a contractor has begun. But before you hire the first company with an appealing deal, you need to make sure they can be trusted.

"Make sure the company has both the local licensing as well as the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board if the jobs going to be for more than $10,000," said Michele Mason, with the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama.

Right off the bat, get the company`s complete contact information. If they won`t provide it, it`s a definite red flag. For extra assurance, companies can be checked with BBB. Accredited roofers and other storm repair companies are all listed on the BBB website, or you can check a company by calling 256-533-1640 or 800-239-1642.

The BBB offers the following tips for hiring roofing and storm related repair companies:

  • Verify that the company has secured proper licensing with your local city or county business license department. You can call your BBB to get the numbers for the various license offices if you do not have them.
  • Once you choose a company, make sure that you have a written contract that clearly states the work that will be done, the quality or grade of materials that will be used, and an estimated completion date.  Verify whether or not the company will also provide cleanup after they have completed their work.  Don’t assume this is included in the price.
  • Use extreme caution when approached by door-to-door company representatives soliciting work, especially those that ask for advance cash payments for products and services.
  • Don’t pay the full amount of the job upfront. Many reputable companies do not require any advance payment or no more than 1/3 of the job in advance. If your insurance company is covering the damage, be wary of a company who requires a 50% deposit or the entire insurance check prior to scheduling the work. Verify with your insurance company that they have approved of all agreed upon repairs and verify their process for providing final payment.
  • Make sure you fully read any document where a company is asking you to sign and provide permission for them to contact your insurance company on your behalf. Many of these agreements have a clause to let that company automatically be the one to do repairs if your insurance company approves a claim.

Also keep in mind, many contractors follow the storms. It could mean you have more chances to find a good deal, but it does come with its share of risk.

"We're not saying you should absolutely not enter into a contract with a company from out-of-town, but do know there are risks because they could do the work and move on to another storm," said Mason. "If you do have a problem and need them to come fix it you might have trouble finding them."

When searching for a contractor, even a reputable one, it's always good practice to get estimates from a few different companies. Just make sure the estimates are for the same service and grade of materials.

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