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Storm Chasers: Who They Are and How to Avoid Them

After a severe storm has passed, often left behind are homes and businesses wet and damaged by torrential rain, devastating hail and strong winds. Homeowners must begin the task of cleanup and repair. This is the prime time for storm chasers to arrive.

What Are Storm Chasers?

Storm chasers don't follow tornadoes, hoping to get an up-close glimpse of nature's raw fury to take some video. Instead, they wait until after a storm has left the area and stick around for the aftermath, hoping to score some work repairing any damage — usually to roofs and siding.

What Work Do They Perform?

Storm chasers survey an area immediately following a storm that has been affected by hail and wind damage. They hand out leaflets and knock on doors, offering free roof inspections. Experts at manipulating homeowners insurance policies, they then repair or replace your roof as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Homeowners often aren't aware of any shoddy work on their roof until it's too late. The roof might not leak for a couple of years, and by then that non-local roofing company is already long gone and following the next big storm. These people fall victim to storm chasers and their scam.

How Can You Avoid Them?

  • Just Say No. Storm chasers are notorious for following weather reports and then knocking on doors to offer their expertise and a free roof inspection. If you do have any roof damage from a storm, just say no to door-to-door help and look for your own local, reputable contractor.
  • Make Your Presence Known. When someone arrives to complete a roof inspection, make your presence known and stick around the whole time. Often contractors may try to fake storm damage if you're not aware and watching. Unless you've researched the reputation of a company, don't let them up on the roof at all.
  • Mum’s the Word. Storm chasers are very savvy and will try to give you a formal estimate only after they find out what your insurance policy covers. Don't tell any contractor anything about your policy coverages. Instead, ask a trusted roofing company for an estimate that only outlines the materials and work needed, not prices.
  • Get More Than One Estimate. It's always worth your time to get more than one repair estimate, especially in an emergency. Storm chasers count on your need for immediate help and hope you panic and sign a contract or make a down payment.
  • Look for Permanence. Storm chasers are usually not local, so one way to tell is to check their business for permanence. Before you decide on a contractor, get their address and phone number and visit their physical site. A red flag is out of state license plates on their vehicles. Ask them for local references and check the BBB.
  • Watch for Large Down Payments. It's normal for a contractor to ask for a down payment on a roofing job. But be wary if they require a cash payment or an amount that seems excessive. Usually, 10% is a reasonable deposit, but not over $1000. Do not pay the entire amount until you are satisfied with the results.
  • Don't Give It All Away. Storm chasers like to reassure homeowners by telling them to hand over the entire insurance settlement amount and they'll take care of everything.
  • This just gives them the opportunity to take the money and run, often before finishing a job or even starting one. Because they're usually from another state, it's hard to track them down.
By following these tips, you can avoid falling prey to storm chasers and their false reassurances. You may end up avoiding a nasty roofing experience. For roofing advice after a severe storm, talk to the experts at Charleston Roofs & Windows.