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Nothing is Free!!

Credits: Will Bazeley

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“We can get you a free roof”!!  These words are said way too often by storm chasers who are looking to capitalize on the damage.  The problem is NOTHING IS FREE.  Remember the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.  Well this is very true when it comes to your roof.

Recently on a flight to Orlando, the person next to me told me all about how everyone in her neighborhood was getting free roofs.  We had a great discussion about the issues and how waiving deductibles is actually illegal, per Florida statute 817.234 (7d).

Legality:

Per Florida statute 817.234, it is illegal to “waive, or rebate all or part of an insurance deductible applicable to payment to the contractor”.  Regardless if your contractor offers to “pay” to have a sign in your front yard or offers to increase their price to the carrier they and the insured are committing fraud.  It is hard to believe how many times homeowners have told me how a roofer offered to increase the pricing to the insurance company so the contractor can be paid the full price without the homeowner paying a deductible.  Not only is it ILLEGAL but it also will impact you and other insureds when carriers change their policy language to address the fraud.

Market impact:

Ultimately roof insurance scams will impact homeowners in regards to their insurance coverage and pricing.  Most carriers are actively inspecting their portfolio and will notify homeowners with old damaged roofs that they must replace their roof or risk cancellation.  This makes perfect sense since an insurance company is insuring a risk against damage.  The other change that can be attributed to roof scams is that carriers have changed the coverages and deductibles available to homeowners.  In some markets homeowners have a 2% deductible that is based on the coverage not the claim amount.  This means that for a home with $200K in coverage a roof claim will have a deductible of $4K.  Although everyone wants to point the finger at the insurance industry we must also consider why they needed to implement the changes.  

Fraud:

When a slick sales person knocks on your door informing you that you can get a “Free” roof, think twice before signing any agreements or contractors.  You should get a second opinion and discuss the issues with your insurance professional.  Reputable companies in the Orlando and Tampa markets will be honest with you and tell you when you DON’T need a new roof.  

Earlier this year, WFTV 9 in Orlando did an expose about fraudulent claims.  A known “storm chaser” was caught making false claims that would not be covered by their insurance policy.

If nothing else, be aware that there are some who are looking for quick, easy money.  When you know for sure that you are ready for a new roof get multiple bids and do not sign any agreement or AOB (Assignment of Benefits) until you have compared the options and contractors.