News Room

New law protects homeowners against roofing scams

COLUMBIA, S.C. – July 1, 2013 – A new South Carolina law provides homeowners with certain protections against roofing scams that have become increasingly common.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, repair contractors often go door-to-door in neighborhoods that have sustained damage to offer clean up and/or construction and repair services. While most of these business people are reputable, some are not.

Scammers may execute schemes to defraud innocent victims by pocketing a down payment, but never performing or completing the work. Other schemes use inferior materials and perform shoddy work not up to code in order to pocket more profit.

Effective July 1, 2013, a new law helps provide protection to homeowners who enter into a contract with a residential roofing contractor. Most notably, the new law gives consumers a right to cancel a roofing contract within five days of receiving notice that all or any part of the claim is not covered by an insurance contract. Other provisions include prohibiting up-front payments until the five day period has expired, and preventing roofing contractors from handling the insurance claim on the homeowner’s behalf.

“It is critically important that policyholders are satisfied with the quality of repairs and service,” said Russ Dubisky, executive director of the South Carolina Insurance News Service. “This law helps protect consumers from being pressured into signing contracts and paying upfront for repairs that may be unnecessary.”

Homeowners who think they have sustained roof damage can follow these tips to help avoid roofing scams:

• Take your time in choosing a roofing contractor. Contact more than one company and get written estimates for the proposed job.
• Make temporary repairs yourself if possible. Keep receipts for materials purchased to file with your insurance company. Beware of contractors who encourage you to spend a lot of money on temporary repairs.
• Investigate the performance of any roofer or repair contractor you consider hiring. Ask for references and check them. Your Better Business Bureau is another good resource.
• Never give a deposit until you have checked the company thoroughly and have a written contract.
• Do not allow a contractor to inspect your roof or other parts of your property unless you requested it.
• Talk to your insurance company yourself about the damage claim. A contractor cannot speak for your insurer or the details of your policy.

For over 35 years, the South Carolina Insurance News Service has been providing free insurance information to consumers and the media about property and casualty insurance issues.

For more information, contact the South Carolina Insurance News Service at 803-252-3455 or use our contact form.