Why roofing scams are hitting Florida so hard
You may have read in the news recently about the tremendous challenges facing Florida and its residents due to a landslide of lawsuits filed in recent years triggered by roofing scams. The situation is so bad that dozens of insurance companies have either left the state, dropped customers, gone out of business, or had to raise property insurance rates.
The climate challenges unique to Florida have, in part, created the “perfect storm” (pun intended) when it comes to roofing scams and the resulting fallout. Even though Florida has not experienced a major hurricane since 2018, the state still receives precipitation 115 days a year on average, which includes a barrage of heavy rain, wind, and hail.
There is a lot of finger pointing going on in Florida as to what or who is to blame for this crisis, but the index finger is pointing squarely at roofing scammers, while the middle finger is reserved for the attorneys working for contingency fees. That leaves 2 digits for loopholes in state laws and multiple court decisions that paved the way for the lawsuits in the first place. That last digit is reserved for the happy neighbor that got a new roof paid for by all of his neighbors in the form of increased insurance rates.
How the roofing scams works
The way the scam works is a resident is approached by a representative of a roofing company who offers to inspect his roof for free. After performing the inspection, the representative presents a bad news/good news scenario. Bad news, the roof is suffering from a lot of storm damage. Good news, the resident could get a brand-new roof! Even better, the company will take care of all of the insurance paperwork, etc., if the resident just signs on the dotted line.
The problem is, in reality there is either minimal or no damage to the roof at all. The roofing contractor files a huge claim with the insurance company, and when the insurance company denies the claim or refuses to pay the full amount, the roofing contractor sues the insurance company. Almost without fail, the insurance company settles the lawsuit for more than the original quote. The excess funds are pocketed by the attorney filing the claim and the roofing company. The resident was merely an unknowing middleman in the scheme. Although he does end up with a new roof, the shear number of the scams is causing insurance rates to soar!
Unfortunately, this type of roofing scam is not unique to Florida. Having worked in the insurance adjusting field for several years, I was concerned about how often homeowners were taken advantage of by the roofing industry. That is why I founded Unique Roofing and Contracting, so that residents would have an honest, local option when it comes to roof repair.
To avoid being involved in a scam such as the one described above, here’s a list of things to watch out for. Your “Spidey-Senses” should tingle if:
- The contractor requires you to put down a large down payment.
Most legitimate roofing contractors will ask for a deposit of 15% or less of the total project cost. This is a good rule of thumb, but you can also protect yourself by obtaining more than one quote. The way this scam usually plays out is the contractor explains that the cost of materials keeps going up, so to lock in a lower quote they should buy all the materials as quickly as possible. The large down payment (sometime required in cash!) is to cover the cost of the lower priced materials. Then, you guessed it, the contractor disappears.
- The quote is WAY lower than any of your other quotes.
Two old adages can usually be applied to this situation. “You get what you pay for” and “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Some scammers or low-quality roofers will offer an absurdly low bid to entice customers. This scenario almost always leads to a tragic ending. Either the roofing job is done so cheaply and poorly it doesn’t last, OR “issues” keep popping up during the project that cause the price to go up and up.
- The contractor asks you to get the necessary permits.
This should immediately throw up a red flag. All legitimate roofing contractors secure the permits for a roofing project. If a contractor asks you to get the permits, there is every reason to believe either they don’t have an appropriate license, or they have committed some type of offense that blocks them from applying themself.
- You are offered a discount for using “leftover” shingles/tile from another project or surplus.
While this could be a legitimate offer, it could also be a scammer trying to pawn off low quality roofing shingles they are trying to be rid of. You should feel free to ask LOTS of questions about each type of shingle offered, especially in the areas of performance and lifespan. Read the company’s warranty carefully and compare the different shingles offered with those of a couple other companies.
Having your roof replaced or repaired is a big investment and one that should not be taken lightly. At Unique Roofing and Contracting, we offer high-quality, honest services and are more than happy to answer all your questions! We have been serving the areas surrounding Owensboro, Kentucky and Foley, Alabama for several years, and have just opened a new location in Lexington, Kentucky! You can reach out to us at the following numbers, or visit our website at https://theuniquesurface.com
Owensboro area: (270) 231-7724
Lexington area: (859) 699-6711
Foley area: (251) 600-9606z