Roofing scam: The door-to-door salesman
Avoid signing any paperwork until your insurance company can inspect the damage. Photo courtesy of Mary Price.
One of the biggest scams in the roofing industry involves the door-to-door salesman who shows up unannounced with the promise of a free roof.
“I have seen and heard so many stories from customers and friends of mine who have been approached or scammed by the door-to-door sales guy that I have lost count,” says Kevin McHugh, owner of highly rated BTR Construction & Roofing in Charlotte, N.C. “These salesmen are trained to sell, and sell hard. They don’t just target senior citizens, every homeowner is fair game.”
These scammers will target neighborhoods with a large number of senior citizens, older homes or where a major storm has hit.
Under the disguise of a free roof inspection, the scammer will go up on the roof and fabricate damage to mimic storm damage, or present a photo showing roof damage from a different home and claim it came from the homeowner’s roof. McHugh says he’s heard of salesman tearing off shingles to simulate wind damage, or hitting the roof with an instrument such as a ball-peen hammer to fabricate hail strikes.
Other roofing scams
“If the salesman creates damage during an inspection process, it’s usually because they feel the roof doesn’t have enough damage to get covered by the insurance company,” McHugh says. “If the insurance company denies the claim, they lose a sale.”
McHugh says this negatively affects homeowners in several ways. “Without the fabricated damage the homeowner would have no need to replace the existing roof, or get the full remaining value out of the roof,” he says. “Not to mention that filing a claim goes on your insurance record and could possibly affect future claims or even prompt the insurance company to not renew your coverage, forcing the homeowner to get a new policy from a new carrier.”
To protect yourself from this scam, the Charlotte roofer warns against signing any paperwork until your insurance company has inspected the roof. He also recommends investigating the company’s background, visiting its office and interviewing previous clients. “Some door-to-door companies are honest and will do the job professionally,” he says, but homeowners need to exercise extra vigilance.