CALGARY – In the aftermath of the devastating hailstorms in Alberta, Aviva is reminding Albertans to be careful of contractors who are approaching damaged homes promising quick repairs with a deposit or waiving deductions – the portion they need to fork out when making an insurance claim.
“While on the ground supporting our customers following the hailstorms, some have told us that they have been approached by contractors going door-to-door to offer repair services with low prices that seem too good to be true,” says Hazel Johnson, Vice President, Property Claims at Aviva Canada.
Another tactic used is the promise of waiving deductibles.
“To secure work, some contractors promise to waive deductibles and then attempt to bulk up the scope of damages to cover the monies. It is important that Albertans protect themselves against contractors who may be taking advantage of homeowners during this vulnerable time. Aviva is here for our customers and can help them determine the best route to get their homes back to normal quickly,” adds Johnson.
Homeowners who are insured should call their insurance companies for recommendations on qualified and vetted contractors. This way, homeowners can have peace of mind knowing that the repairs will be professionally done and guaranteed. Here are some most common roofing scams we’ve seen and tips on how homeowners can protect themselves:
1. The hailstorm chaser
These ‘nomad roofers’ go across the country chasing hailstorms and any natural disasters. They are quick to show up on your doorstep after a severe weather event.
Familiar with how insurance companies work, these contractors charge a hefty amount using inferior quality products and promise to help you close your file quickly with the insurance company. But they are nowhere to be found should you find yourself with a leaky roof a few years later.
What you can do:
- Always do your research before signing up a contractor for any repairs or home improvement work. Ensure you are dealing with an approved contracting company that is properly licensed and insured. The Better Business Bureau is a good resource.
- Be cautious of those asking for upfront deposits. Only contractors with a pre-paid contractor’s licence from Service Alberta can ask for a deposit. You can check for these licences by calling 1-877-427-4088.
- Ask if the contractor carries liability insurance. While not required by law, a company that does not have liability insurance means any damage to property resulting from the renovation may not be covered by them.
2. The door-to-door free roof inspection
Similar to the hailstorm chaser, this door-to-door salesperson will come knocking on the door offering free roof inspection. They will go up on the roof of the homeowner and could fabricate damage to mimic storm damage or show you a photo with roof damage from a different home and claim it came from your roof.
What you can do:
- It is best not to open the door to such salespersons or allow them on to your roof. However, if you decide to do so, remember not to sign any paperwork until your insurance company or a second reputable roofing company has inspected the roof.
3. The unbelievably low bid
The roofing contractor will offer a low bid that is far lower than any other construction companies in the area. But once the job starts, unexpected costs and unforeseen problems may suddenly appear. Some contractors may even resort to removing the old roof or threaten to leave the roof bare if additional payments aren’t made.
What you can do:
- Always get a couple of quotes from reputable companies to compare before deciding on one. If a company offers the same job for a price that is too good to be true, it probably is.
- Make sure the payment structure is clear from the beginning. Ask about all the steps of the project and completion time.
- Request a full disclosure of the project cost and ask about any ‘worst case scenario’ that could arise during the project.
–Tobias Hammer photo