Roof investigation finds questionable wind damage claims

By Eryka Washington - Investigative Reporter

Storms are nothing new to Florida. This is the time of year we see hail and wind storms often.

In a video created by Haag Engineering, viewers can see what a severe hail storm can do to your roof as an ice ball explode into the shingle.

[WEB EXTRA: Report fraud here ]

That's how experts can tell what genuine hail damage looks like and what it feels like.

But beware, there are roofers out there who talk homeowners into a new roof. 

A video shows a roofer purposefully ripping up shingles, scraping away some of the adhesive and outlining the "fake wind damage" in chalk. A roofer created damage by spinning a dime on shingles attempting to show hail damage. Industry insiders call this "manufactured damage."

"The second level of the scam is what takes place when you talk to the homeowner at the front door," Scott Johnson, a veteran consumer advocate in the insurance industry, said. "They arrive at the home and say, 'You may be entitled to a free roof from your insurance company. If we can inspect for damage we might be able to find some.' They always find damage when they go on the roof."

And that leads to what the Insurance Information Institute calls a major red flag.

They ask you to sign a contract called an Assignment of Benefits, or AOB. That means your insurance company's claim check goes directly to the roofing company.

A questionable roofer will subcontract the job out to another roofer for up to 25 percent less, pocketing the difference. Less money means the sub-roofer may use substandard materials and rush the job to save labor cost. 

In some cases the subcontracted roofer is never paid.

"I often see a lot of things paid for that shouldn't be paid for and that perpetuates the situation one neighbor gets one and the next wants one and it just keeps going," said Brian Kuehner of Collis Roofing, who is certified to inspect roofs for wind and hail damage.

Even though the NOAA says there's been no increase in the number of hail events, there has been a dramatic rise in hail damage claims.

Several insurance companies told Local 6 hail claims for Central Florida have tripled since 2011.

In fact one insurance company Local 6 spoke to says:

  • In 2013, it had 360 hail claims
  • 2014, hail claims jumped to 909
  • So far this year, there have been 1,160 hail claims

The abusers target upscale older neighborhoods with aging roofs.

But roofing and insurance companies can use weather technology such as an interactive map to confirm if a severe weather event occurred in your neighborhood even down to your street.

Filing a fraudulent claim is a felony offense and unethical roofers are preying on unsavvy homeowners

"They are being taken advantage of by roofers who know they (would) rather get the money from the insurance company," Johnson said. 

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