Buyer Beware – Tips for Choosing a Hail Damage Contractor

Whether your home was damaged in a hail storm, your vehicle, your business, or a business’ fleet of vehicles, the need to repair the damage can feel immediate.

It’s true that neglected hail damage can turn into bigger problems – but there are a lot of contractors out there who will take advantage of people who are trying to put a storm behind them.

Plummer Insurance has developed this guide on what to watch out for when looking for hail damage repair.

Some hail damage contractors will offer to do work for less.

But your home deductible still applies – whether one contractor’s bill is less or not. For example, if you have a $1,500 deductible on your policy and one contractor bids $200 less than another contractor, you’ll still pay out of pocket for all work up to $1500. It’s better to ensure the contractor you hire is someone who is reputable and will be there after work is completed – if something goes wrong, you need to know who to call. On a similar note –

Never pay a contractor in cash and don’t pay in full, up-front.

* Beware of out-of-town contractors claiming to be local. If you can’t find them in the phone book, chances are they are not a local company and will likely not be around to rectify any faulty work after initial damages have been repaired.

* Beware of contractors who act as claims representatives. These contractors ask homeowners to sign all rights of their claim over to the contractor for the contractor to work on behalf of the policyholder. Do NOT sign the rights of your claim over to these contractors, as you will not have any rights to the claim anymore, and can’t even act on your own behalf if a contract is signed and a claim is reassigned to a contractor.

* Never pay a contractor in cash and don’t pay in full, up-front.

* When choosing a contractor, check references and confirm the business or person is licensed through the Nebraska Department of Labor (or your state’s version of this agency)

* Beware of companies or people who show up and offer to assess and fix damage and ask for a large up-front fee (often in cash) before the work begins (our suggestion is to use ONLY local, reputable contractors).

* Double check that expensive materials actually will get you a discount. While some insurance companies offer discounts for a higher quality shingle, not all insurance companies do. Additionally, just having a 50 year shingle will not provide a discount. It must be a UL Class 3 or 4 shingle to qualify for the discount. Check with our agency to see if your insurance company offers a discount before agreeing to pay the additional cost to upgrade to a higher-quality shingle.

* If a contractor offers to pay, buy back, or “waive” the deductible on your claim, this is considered insurance fraud and the homeowner will be prosecuted the same as the contractor by Nebraska state law. Not only should you avoid that contractor, but you should report them to your insurance agent.

When in Doubt – ASK AN AGENT!

Our agency has compiled a list of contractors that will repair home damage for the amount your insurance company’s claim adjuster estimates, and will not assess any hidden costs on the back end. These are all companies that have a long-standing presence in the Panhandle and will still be here long after the initial storm damage has been repaired. For a list of those contractors, please contact our agency.