Beware ‘Storm Chaser’ Contractors
Insurance executives and lawmakers say aggressive contractors can easily take advantage of the owners of homes that were damaged by a violent storm, who are eager to get started on repairs. These contractors, referred to as storm chasers, offer rapid and costly repair services and try to get property owners to sign contracts before insurance adjusters make assessments. Mark Johnston, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) government relations manager for 10 Midwest states, characterizes these contractors as “storm scammers.”
The Iowa legislature is one of the state governments considering measures that curb these contractors. According to Johnston, lawmakers in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota have enacted laws to prevent abusive practices by contractors in the wake of storms. The proposed Iowa law would invalidate contracts if contractors said that they were working for an insurance company, promised rebates on deductibles or did not provide a disclosure about how the contract can be canceled. Bill Good, executive vice president of the National Roofing Contractors Association, said consumers should check to see that the contractor is licensed in states where it is required and that the contractor has a permanent place of business. Consumers are advised not to pay cash or sign documents giving the contractor authority to negotiate directly with their insurance companies.
Read more storm chaser contractors: States Fight Back on ‘Storm Chaser’ Contractors (USA Today 4/18/12)