Roofing scam: The door-to-door salesman

Avoid signing any paperwork until your insurance company can inspect the damage. Photo courtesy of Mary Price.

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.

“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.


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A roofing contractor inspects shoddy work from a previous roofer.
A roofing contractor inspects shoddy work from a previous roofer.

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Comments

I have been dealing with insurance restoration work for a long time, and I think I have seen just about everything you could imagine. I have seen good roofing companies go under because a couple dishonest salesmen. One of which I worked for. With no quality control present in most of these roofing companies even the most honest and reputable company could inadvertently hire a dishonest damage creating salesperson. With that being said I once inspected a homeowners roof which was marginal and I told them we probably only get a repair (by the way I'm from Texas and I don't think replacement is warranted on all claims). Anyways when I showed up for the adjusters meeting there was a lot more damage than I had originally seen. I immediately told the adjuster that I would not be assisting the homeowner with his claim and I would not be assisting that homeowner any longer. Another unrelated claim I was helping a landlord with one of their properties when the adjuster turned to me and said we were two shingles away from the amount of wind damage needed to replace the roof. I then told the adjuster well I guess we are doing a repair then. He proceeded to tell me like hell we are and tore two shingles off himself.

Greetings, in 2010 I worked for a roofing contractor (so called storm chasers) and here is what I found. The hail damage was in Mesa, Az. That area was truly pelted with hail. My job was to go down a street knocking on every door and offer to assit the home owner get a new roof if they had roof damage. Most home owners did not think they had any or enough damage that their insurace company would replace their roof. I would get on the roof, take pictures of any and all damage and show them what I had found. We would call their insurance company and request them send their adjuster out for his review. I would meet the adjuster at the appointed time and show him the damage that I had found. THE ADJUSTER MAKES THE CALL, NOT THE HOME OWNER OR THE SALESPERSON! If the insurance company buys them a new roof at that point I would collect the deductable from the customer, when our company dropped the material in their yard to build the job I would collect 50% of the money the insurance company paid for the repair and when job was completed I collected the other 50% of the insurance payemnt. Most people that I was able to get a new roof for would have never made a claim. I know I helped many, many people get what was coming from their insurance company mainly because I ASK FOR THE ADJUSTER TO COME AND LOOK AT THE ROOF. I know their are scammers out their but the company I worked for and me myself we 1000% straight up. We simply assisted the home owner. Just for the record.

Its almost like racial profiling. To say that all salesmen are scamming professionals is irresponsible. I make a living going door to door and I help people get new roofs. I do not submit false claims and I cant force an insurance company to pay for damage that does not exist. I have never taken a dime from a customer other than deductible and have only had a few roofs that the insurance company and our company did not agree on damage and the customer gave up. What I have seen more of is insurance companies treating a roof like its a pair of jeans expecting people to be happy with a patch job leaving the pride and joy of home ownership looking like an old pair of jeans. I fight for consumers and win most battles when I find insurance companies only paid for part of a roof when there was much more damage and upon re-inspection...they paid for the whole roof, and why did they pay the second time...because there was a door to door salesman looking out for the best interest of the householder. My guess is a weak roofing company paid for this article to be written. In the end there are scammers out there and roofers that do crooked things like promise cash back on an insurance claim or say no deductible ( fraud, the deductible must be paid on a claim ). If anyone would like a list of all my customers 80% were made door to door....ask them if I am a crook!

90% of my business comes from aboveboard, free inspections. This blog does more than protect homeowners from scam artists. It takes a bias that ANYONE going door to door, is a scam artist! Just because you're too lazy to go drum up business, doesn't mean that hard working American's that aren't too lazy, should have the odds against them before they even start. D2D is the oldest sales strategy in existence. There's absolutety nothing wrong with it. Quite the contrary. Wake up!

totally agree here.. d2d isn't scamming and are those not being lazy.

I'm an insurance claim rep in NJ. I see these roofing companies all the time since the storm. I think they ran out of legitimate claims and are now waiting for the next serious storm to go chase. Sometimes there is severe damage to the roof requiring replacement after a bad storm. There are also many times when the roof has minor damage and is repairable or only has damage to one slope. The door to door type of guys and girls from Texas only seem to think replacing the entire roof is possible. The are trained to argue anything contrary to full replacement. I have never seen them propose a repair which in my mind makes them dishonest. They make money with each sale so they have a real financial incentive to lie or to make false damage and to put down the evil insurance company. They'll tell you they know how to deal with insurance companies, yeah right. I'd rather deal with a local any day. For the most part the locals are honest and will be around for more than a few months. Insurance is not a maintenance policy. Homeowners are responsible to keep things in good condition. That means an expensive roof needs replacement every 25 years or so. Everyone pays for insurance fraud. Please don't blame higher insurance rates on insurers when you can clearly see the attitudes about ripping off insurance companies. Many think that's ok. Insurance companies are not evil and it should not be considered OK to profit from a claim. Some under cover operations have caught a few of these companies in the act of causing damage to houses and then presenting it as storm damage. With all the cameras in the world I bet this happens more often. Some out of state roofers make deals with existing NJ contractors to use their license. They give the NJ contractor a cut for using the lic #. I'm sure this goes on everywhere there is a storm. If someone with an out of state accent shows up at your door I'd worry about a few things. First is this guy going to be there in a year, NO. Why would he care about doing a good job if he isn't going to be around when it starts to fail. An incorrectly installed piece of flashing or nails not being placed correctly show up later when the roof is tested in severe weather. The roof can look great but can have some problems that will be expensive to repair down the road if it isn't installed correctly. Also, why do you want your money to go out of state. I'd much rather see a local contractor be paid for a job and help the local economy.

I find it hard to believe that someone in the building industry finds it necessary to tear down someone else's building in order to make his own taller. Build a bigger and better building. You cannot whitewash the industry. You did help me though as I am in the roofing business. I am documenting your suggestions and presenting them to the home owner to help the home owner discern between the good and the bad. There are scammers that go door to door. There are also scammers that use flamboyant advertising campaigns. Most important in the process is helping the customer whether we benefit financially or not.

I am a project manager for a small construction company and about 80% of our business is generated through targeting a storm damaged area and knocking on doors. The other 20% is mostly referrals and neighbors who call after we complete a job. The company I work for, and myself, are committed to providing outstanding workmanship, high-quality materials and exceptional customer service with each and every homeowner. We perform everything honestly and with integrity. My job isn't complete until each and every homeowner is completely satisfied. I really get tired of reading the same old stereotypes about door-to-door salespeople being dishonest, law-breaking scam artists. Why would I waste my time sending out mailers and waiting for the the phone to ring? I provide a valuable service to homeowners in storm-damaged neighborhoods. I knock on doors so I can have a face-to-face conversations with potential customers. I possess the skills and knowledge to be able to educate the homeowner about their roof, the process of filing a homeowner's insurance claim and the benefit of having me handle to process for them from beginning to end. I agree with all of the replies above. Many homeowners I've worked for are just like Nina. They don't know their insurance company will pay for wind and hail damage. They may not even know their roof has damage. They certainly don't have the knowledge or experience to be able to meet with insurance adjusters for the inspection. Insurance companies are tightening their belts. It is paramount to have a trained professional on the roof during the inspection. I will point out damage to each and every shingle, hail dings on every gutter and downspout, discuss the wind direction of the storm, etc. My customers always end up thanking me for knocking on their door, because I know how to save them a ton of money. I know many people in this line of work and I have never heard of anyone creating intentional damage. Dishonest people exist in every industry, but they are the exception, not the rule. As Ricardo Sanchez points out, it is insulting to adjusters in the industry to propose they cannot detect intentional damage. It is glaringly obvious to anyone who inspects roofs regularly. Articles like this just make it more difficult for me to help people not to have to pay out of pocket when their insurance company is responsible for paying for catastrophes (acts of God.) Contractors who are hired to do these types of jobs and never even bother to assist the homeowner in filing a claim are doing them a great disservice. People may wonder how this aspect of the business has gotten such a bad reputation. Here's an example: I was proactively working a storm damaged neighborhood. One street had just 14 house on it. My company had completed 7 jobs on this street, plus 2 more houses on the perpendicular streets at the end of the block. I filed a claim for the 8th house on the street. Homeowner was thrilled to be approved. I meet with her and her boyfriend to review the loss statement, pick out shingles and offer additional services and upgrades. As I'm explaining the loss statement and writing the contract she "informs" me that her insurance company paid her deductible. I explain to her what the deductible is and show her that it has been deducted from the total claim paid. For whatever reason, she just could not understand the concept of a deductible or the simple math involved in in subtracting it from the total. She became irate and accused me of trying to "scam" her out of $500. She ended up breaking our legally binding agreement and started telling all her neighbors I was ripping people off. I knew this because I had created rapport with many of her neighbors and completed jobs for them. They liked me well enough to call me to warn me. Legally, I could have taken her to court, put a lien on her house among other remedies. I didn't and won't. Why? Because I won't waste my time with people like that when I could invest my time in getting new business that appreciates what I do for them. Within about a month, both her neighbors had new roofs. I've strayed from my point, but it's people like her who tarnish reputations of honest, hard-working people. They complain so frequently and loudly that every article writer in the country hears them. Just as scamming contractors are the minority, so are unreasonable homeowners, I'd like to see just one article of advise for homeowners about the legitimate contractors who target neighborhoods and go door to door. Be specific about the "extra viligance" they should practice. What questions they should ask, the research they should do and where to do it, how to understand why their insurance company only paid for what they lost and not for upgrades they want, etc.

I had my roof done by a local company with a door to door approach. They actually had A+ rating on BBB and good reviews on Angie's list. There was some damage present on ourroof, but we were not aware of wind and hail type of damage that could be covered by insurance. I an very grateful to the salesman of that roofing company that knocked on my door and saved me thousands of dollars. And I agree with all the comments above. Instead of black marking hard working folks, they should get of their office chairs, start knocking on doors and try to help people.

When was the last time an Insurance Company came and. said " hey your roof was damaged , let's get it fixed right away!" Never!!! the opposite is true.

I can unequivocally state Scott's assertion about an insurer never taking the initiative to inspect an insured's roof for damage after a storm and replace it is inaccurate. Our insurance company sent an adjuster to our home after a hail storm resulted in multiple claims from other insureds nearby. We were out of state at the time and completely unaware of the storm. The adjuster determined the damage he observed justified a new roof and they covered it. They had our back.

It states in the policy that it is YOUR RESPOSIBILITY TO PROVE THE LOSS... How could an insurance company possibly go to each insureds home and proactively inspect their off. You are probably the type that complains about insurance rates already, could you imagine what the rates would be if they had to do what you are proposing? Educate yourself and quit acting like a fool on the Internet.

To say that these "scammers" have any chance of getting away with intentional mechanical damage is an insult to the adjusters in the industry. These adjusters are very well trained and can spot mechanical damage right away, it is not that hard. No, I am not an adjuster nor am I related to one. I am an owner of a roofing company that respects adjusters and honest members of the roofing community.

I would have to disagree with this Article in the statement that the "door to door salesman" approach is just Scammers and Storm Chasers. I live in Cooleemee NC and my neighbor had called a local roofing company from the phone book and was completely ripped off. They took his insurance money and ordered his shingles only to start the job and never come back to finish and the half of a roof they did complete was god awful. I had another local NC Roofing company: Room 2 Roof have one of their fellows knock on my door about inspecting my Roof for Hail damage. They professionally inspected my Roof, Took pictures, came out to meet my insurance adjuster and installed my new Roof with No Money Down, before all of this they drove me to other homes in the area to talk face to face with other homeowners they've recently installed a Roof for and provided me with a copy of their license, insurance and workman's comp. My experience with Room 2 Roof was First class and my neighbor who is still suing the other local roofer that screwed him is getting help from Tracy of Room 2 Roof who has really done alot of legwork to assist him in going after these folks. I think it is ok for Good Honest people to go out and seek business Door to Door so long as they are doing things correctly. To label those pro actively seeking business this way as scammers is wrong, some of the people you choose right from your local yellow pages are also scammers.

I completely agree with the John Smitherton's reply to this article. Having a big ad in the yellow pages does not automatically make you honest & dependable, just as knocking on someone's door doesn't make you a crook. A local contractor near Kalamazoo, Vestal builders, was just on the news because he's going to jail for fraud. Nicest 2 page ad you've ever seen! Even had a store front in the local mega-mart next to the mini nail salon and mini bank. Hard working contractors go where the work is, but homeowners still have to do their homework. That's what Angie's List is for!

I completely agree with the John Smitherton's reply to this article. Having a big ad in the yellow pages does not automatically make you honest & dependable, just as knocking on someone's door doesn't make you a crook. A local contractor near Kalamazoo, Vestal builders, was just on the news because he's going to jail for fraud. Nicest 2 page ad you've ever seen! Even had a store front in the local mega-mart next to the mini nail salon and mini bank. Hard working contractors go where the work is, but homeowners still have to do their homework. That's what Angie's List is for!

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