Here’s what you should do before hiring a roofer to fix storm damage to your home

Insurance agent says a homeowner should never sign an ‘Assignment of Benefits’

WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. – Never, ever, sign an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) with a roofing company, Winter Springs insurance agent Kris Pontell advised.

“With roofing especially, don’t sign anything until you’ve received quotes,” Pontell said. “You normally don’t have to sign anything to get quotes from roofers.”

Pontell, a longtime owner of Pontell Insurance, was fielding dozens of calls on Monday from customers looking to file claims from Sunday’s hail storm.

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Pontell said most of the calls were for damaged cars or roofs.

For cars that were dinged by the hail that pummeled Orange and Seminole counties, Pontell advised you to take pictures and file a claim only after the damage adds up to more than your deductible.

“Take pictures always, so you have immediate documentation on your phone, and sometimes the insurance company will even look at them immediately before they get out there,” Pontell said.

For people looking for a roofer right now, Pontell recommended getting several quotes from local, reputable roof companies that have been in business for decades.

“Get referrals from friends and family who may have used these roofers, ones who’ve been in the area a long time,” Pontell said.

Some roofers will only repair a roof if the damage is covered by insurance, according to Pontell, and most of them will require you to sign an AOB.

“Avoid what they call an AOB, or Assignment of Benefits, where the roofer will take over the claim and receive payments directly from the insurance company,” Pontell said. “You don’t need to do that.”

Signing an AOB means you’re assigning to your roofer all of your benefits, or payouts, that you’d receive from your insurance company. That takes you out of the case entirely and gives your roofer - and only your roofer - the legal right to negotiate directly with your insurance company. The problem with that, Pontell said, is you have no say over what the roofing company charges your insurance company or how much your insurance company pays out.

“You should be able to have multiple roofers look at your roof, give you quotes, not just signing with someone and being stuck with them, and that’s essentially what an AOB, or Assignment of Benefits does,” Pontell said.

Pontell warned that the only contract you should sign with your roofer is an agreement to do the work he’s promising and your promise to pay.

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.