Roofing Scam: The Storm Chaser

A hail storm damaged this Phoenix home. Storm chasers look for areas hit by hail, wind or tornados. (Photo courtesy of Lyons Roofing)

A hail storm damaged this Phoenix home. Storm chasers look for areas hit by hail, wind or tornados. (Photo courtesy of Lyons Roofing)

Out of all the roofing scammers, the out-of-town storm chasers are the most publicized, yet people all across the country fall victim to them. Also known as roofing gypsies, these roofers travel around the country following the paths of storms looking for homeowners to exploit.

“The Weather Bureau will say which areas have hail or wind damage,” says Paul Tansey, owner of highly rated Tans’ Quality Roofing Inc. in Chicago. “The chasers pay attention to those readings and they know the insurance companies will allow for roof replacement in those areas.”

The way the scam works is the storm chasers will blanket an area hit by hail or wind damage and look for unsuspecting homeowners. They’ll pass out leaflets and even show up unannounced or offer a free inspection.

Signs of a Storm Chasing Contractor

Angie Hicks describes some red flags homeowners should watch out for when hiring a contractor to fix storm damage.

The Chicago roofer says the chasers know how the insurance companies work, and based on the square footage of the roof, they can figure out how much it will cost to put on a cheap new roof. The homeowner gets burned because the storm chaser only does the bare minimum to replace the roof, but doesn’t address any other problems, or restore the roof to its original condition.

The homeowner is then left with a poorly constructed roof, and the fraudulent company that was once so ready to help has vanished.

“When a roof is put on by a storm chaser, normally those roofs only last 5 to 7 years and then I have to tell the homeowner their roof needs to be replaced," Tansey says.

The storm chasers have no incentive to produce high quality work, and there’s really no way for them to be held accountable because they will be gone by the time a problem arises.

Aside from the shoddy work, many of the storm chasers lack a valid license, don’t hold insurance or will lie about having insurance.

The best way to avoid the storm chaser is to do your own research. Ask to see proof of insurance and check the roofer’s license status with your local building department or licensing agency. You should also pay a visit to the roofer’s office. If the company only lists a post office box, it’s a major red flag. It’s also smart to ask for a list of previous customers in your area, and you should visit the work sites to make sure the references are legit.

MORE: 12 Tips To Avoid Storm Chasers

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on May 29, 2012.

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I find it Funny that any roofer says that its a scam when Storm Chasers come to an area and "EXPLOIT" the homeowners when hail & wind damage occur in the area.... Maybe we should audit their books and see how many Insurance contracts they have closed. Lets be clear about this. IT IS the Insurance Companies responsibility to pay for damage caused by storms. When a heavy storm hits. Crews of Adjusters Called STORM TEAMS or CAT TEAM encompass the area and write checks 24-7 for months on end for full replacement of roof, siding , gutters etc... I've been a local contractor here in Ohio for quite a few years and have seen a large influx in roofing contractors as a result of the laws that protect the homeowner's here and require full replacement. just recently I have branched out and opened 3 new offices across the country. In my experience\... its the local contractors mostly complaining because such a mass amount of roofers are coming into the area. And half the time they are too lazy to get out and compete. In billings Montana Last year . 40,000 homes were effected by massive 4" hail. approximately 10,000 homes were repaired. that leaves 30,000 homes incomplete. All the while, you couldn't get a room for 6 months without being parked on top of an adjuster. Is there roofers out there stealing people's money and completing the full scope of work for the price paid by insurance. Or just getting the checks and running. Sure. I've heard lots of stories over the years. There's also a lot Homeowners just taking the money and not getting all the work done too. that's Fraud as well. But to identify all Storm Chasers as scam artists because they chase storms is bologna. Chasing a storm as a legal contractor in the area is not a scam nor is it illegal. What happens after the contract is signed and agreed on, well that's what seperates the men from the boys.

Some so called storm chasers mostly find find local contractors to do the work. What do you think they are going to do Manuel labor.? Therefore would that make them storm chasers or contract agents helping file claims in many cases for people that wouldn't file a claim on their own valistion. They simply charge a fee absorbed by the insurance company's check book via the local contractors agreement they arranged on the side. This type or transaction is useded by the craftest of storm chasers know as lone wolfs. I am not saying they wouldn't steal you blind if you let them I am just saying they can come dressed as a sheep in wolfs clothing. A lone wolf just usely takes a few lambs. Bhaaa

Gypsies indeed. I haven't run across a GAF Master Elite roofing company that chases storms yet. That is THE Gold standard that separates the best roofers from the amateurs. Crawl back into the woodwork where you came from and leave the quality work to real roofing companies.

I am a storm chaser and my company is a licensed general contractor in the 2 states we work in. We repair the roofs with better products that what insurance pays for and they get lifetime warranties bc we are certified through our manufacturers. It a good idea to do your homework on any claims a contractor makes so you as the homeowner can make an informed decision. There are bad companies everywhere that do make it hard for the ones that do the right thing.

So roofers show up to an area where people need new roofs. Hmm what a scam. Any business targets markets with the most demand. So if joe is from out of town and bill is from town that must mean bill does good work and joe does shoddy work? What happens when bill works in joes town? Does he do shoddy work then? These generalizations are ludicrous. Also, a roof isnt all that complicated and what exactly would randomly go wrong in 5 years? Stop spreading lies. There are good roofers and bad roofers both types are local and out of town.

Storm Chasers are exactly that, they watch for bad weather and storms and then blanket the area. They can come in much less dollar wise than local contractors. Why? Because they do not carry proper licenses, insurance and workman's compensation. If they get hurt on the job with no workman's comp, who pays? YOU DO! If they skip town without paying the supplier, the supplier puts a lien on your house. Water running out of your microwave the next time there is a hard rain, try finding them. You'll be calling the local contract to fix their shoddy work. Roofing can be complicated, is a truss fractured, does wood need replaced? what quality of shingle did you buy and is that what is being put on your roof? Are they certified installers by Certainteed, Norandex or Owens Corning? You might save some money to start out but you will be spending it and more later on down the road.

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