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Here is how to avoid this year’s monsoon season roofing scam

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Recently, we’ve heard from homeowners about door-to-door salesmen for roofing companies who use high-pressure tactics to get them to sign up for a re-roofing job. Be careful, because it might be one of those typical monsoon season sales scams.

Typically, according to a Phoenix insurance company, a salesman knocks on the door to tell homeowners their roof is in really bad shape, but they can get a new roof for the amount of their insurance deductible — maybe $1,000. He also tells homeowners that a neighbor down the street has signed up for the same kind of a great deal.

Sign a contract with a roofing company for whatever the roof costs, he says, give him a deposit, and then he will notify the insurance company and get every dollar reimbursed, except for the homeowner’s deductible.

But homeowners are not told who the roofer will be. The contractor might be unlicensed or licensed or could have complaints on their records or can be a firm new to the area and unlikely to stay in business very long.

Possibly your roof really does need work and might have been damaged by a storm in the past year, insurance companies told us. Even if there’s not much rain in Arizona, some areas get hit by serious microbursts here and there.

But once a homeowner signs a contract with one of these roaming salespeople, it might become tough to get out of it. Some contracts don’t even list a dollar amount. Often the sales people are not employed by the roofing contractors, but are sales “consultants,” insurers say. The sales people work on commissions and can be pushy.

Jeff Fleetham, director of the Arizona State Registrar of Contractors, tells homeowners: “Don’t let someone come in the house to fix something at your house if you didn’t call them first and check them out. Before you let someone in, check with the registrar online or by phone for the name of the contractor. If they’re not registered, don’t hire them.”

Here are other recommendations about home repairs for damage that insurance might cover:

1. If your house is damaged in a storm or accident, call your insurance company first to inform them. The company may give you names of licensed contractors who will give you estimates. Beware of a sales person who says he or she will contact your insurance company for you or someone who asks you to call your insurer while he or she is on your premises. Sometimes the sales person even wants to use your phone.

2. Don’t pay anyone immediately to fix damage, aside from taking temporary action to keep problems from getting worse – like covering the roof with a tarp or repairing a broken pipe.

3. After opening a claim with the insurance company and getting damage estimates, that’s when the insurer will send out an adjuster to decide what the company will pay.

4. Beware if a sales person does not put money figures on a contract. A contract is void if only your deductible is shown.

5. Don’t sign a contract for repairs until you’ve thought about it a while. You have only three days to get out of a contract if you change your mind. Don’t write a check in the name of a door knocker who promises to talk to the insurance company.

6 – Don’t let any previously unknown person into your house to talk about repairs or improvements. Tell them to leave a card under the door mat or in the door and look at it later. Always check out the name with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors before calling back.

For information on the Registrar of Contractors, check out the website here.

At our Rosie on the House website, we also have more information on hiring contractors and roofers.

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