Beware of Storm Chasers
What is a storm chaser?
Storm chasers are companies that follow severe weather from area to area, completing home repairs (generally roofs and siding) that are damaged by hail and wind. They collect homeowners’ insurance claim checks in payment for their services, complete the work (often shoddily) before moving on to the next storm ravaged area. Here in Chicago, we are prone to hailstorms, and storm chasers generally quickly follow any such event. They generally go door-to-door in storm damaged areas, and may advertise themselves as insurance recovery experts or specialists in insurance restoration. (The term “Storm Chaser” can also be used to describe a person who follows storms in order to research, photograph, or simply experience a weather phenomenon. This type of storm chaser is entirely different and is not of any concern to a homeowner!)
Why are storm chasers bad?
The first step of a storm chaser is to ask the homeowner to sign a contract allowing their company to negotiate with homeowner’s insurance company. By signing these documents, homeowners may be waiving their right to any decision making regarding their repairs or replacement. They also lose control over the insurance settlement, and the entire check of the payment may legally need to be signed over to the storm chaser- regardless of the quality or quantity of work completed. The homeowner may lose some control over materials used, leaving the storm chaser free to cut corners in order to increase their profit. Most importantly, warranty repairs can be very difficult to obtain as most storm chasers leave the area as soon as the storm “plays out.” These companies are generally gone long before warranty issues arise. The company is certainly not going to return from Florida or Ohio to repair a problem with their work. To make matters even more difficult, some storm chasers lease local company names so the appear to be local. Once they complete their work in the area, they leave. The local company is then responsible for the warranty work. Of course, the volume of warranty work is often so great the local company ends up out of business, leaving the homeowner with problems.