A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BBB Trends: Unsettled weather? Beware of lurking storm chasers — don’t let emotions get best of you

Storm chasers are people who follow severe weather hoping to get business from victims whose homes have been damaged by storms. They follow weather reports and sometimes will arrive in town before the storm even hits and are ready to pounce as soon as the weather breaks.

After the storm hits, they’ll target areas hardest hit by damage because they “just so happen” to notice the homes have storm damage on the roof, siding or property in general. The story they’ll tell you is they want to take a look, provide an estimate to repair the damage, then offer to contact the homeowner’s insurance company to do the work – but only if the homeowner signs a contract with them first.

Sometimes, however, the insurance company might refuse the claim because they didn’t have a chance to inspect the damage prior to the repair. Even if the claim is approved, you could still be on the hook because the storm chasers used shoddy materials or the workers have little training on the actual repair. This may cause more problems in the future leaving homeowners with no way to contact the company who is now long gone scamming other people halfway across the country at another storm damage site.

Ideally, before any weather hits, check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. If you find yourself in this situation after a disaster and are approached by someone, here’s what to do:

Avoid letting your emotions get the better of you.

Don’t be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long­ term impact – you are allowed to say no.

Be pro-active in selecting a company and not reactive to sales solicitations.

Raise your guard to door-to-door workers who claim to have left-over materials from a job “down the street” or who do not have a permanent place of business.

Look for out of state license plates or if they do try to push a contract for a signature, look at the name, address and if there is a phone number on it. This should give you a pretty good indication where they operate.

Read and understand the contract in its entirety. Never agree to sign a blank contract and ask for a signed copy, once you’ve completely reviewed it and are confident the terms meet your expectations.

Remember, you don’t have to sign anything on demand if you don’t completely understand, agree or know where the company operates from. If you still have questions, research the business first.

Find out more information on bbb.org/cincinnati/storm.

Sandra Guile is the Public Relations Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 – to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment