Look around your neighborhood after a big storm, and chances are you’ll see signs for roofers in people’s yards, or even people advertising their roofing services by passing out cards and flyers. Some of the most persistent – and the most attractive – ads usually feature phrasing like “Deductibles Waived” or “Free Roof.” However, you should know that hiring one of these no-deductible Oklahoma roofers could put you at risk for insurance fraud.
Deductible-free roofers operate in a few different ways, but all of them skirt the boundaries of what’s legal. Usually they refer to their programs as “deductible assistance,” The key to determining whether a roofer’s services are above board is finding out how they handle waiving your deductible.
The first way that roofers get around a deductible is by simply charging different rates to you and your insurance company. Basically, a roofer will quote you one amount, but then submit an amount to the insurance company that covers both their quote to you and your deductible. They then “rebate” you the extra money for you to pay your deductible with. However, by overcharging the insurance company, both you and the roofer could end up in trouble for insurance fraud.
Another common tactic used in deductible assistance programs is an “advertising credit.” Roofers using this tactic will cover your deductible in exchange for displaying their advertisement on your property – usually a yard sign. However, the process that they use for this tactic is rarely condoned by your insurer. In short, the roofer will bill the insurance company for the cost of their work plus the cost of your deductible, and then “credit” you the extra portion in exchange for placing their advertisement. The roofer isn’t paying for this ad themselves, though – they’re billing it to the insurance company. It’s a safe bet that your insurer probably wouldn’t consent to subsidizing an advertisement for a roofer if they knew about it – and again, if they do find out, you could be liable for fraud.
In almost every case, deductible assistance programs boil down to the same fact: The roofing contractor advertising the program is billing the insurance company for more money than the work they’re doing is worth. Whether they do this by overcharging, cutting corners, or changing their quotes in the middle of the process is not really an issue. They’re still doing less work than they’re charging for. Most of the time this constitutes fraud.
Some homeowners will claim that they didn’t know deductible assistance is illegal, or that the roofer did it without their knowledge. In court, however, these defenses rarely hold up. If you have any knowledge about how the roofer is able to waive your deductible, or the contractor makes you complicit in any way, you can be held liable. And you can also be sure that any roofer unethical enough to offer these programs won’t want to take all the blame if they’re caught.
Most of the time you can tell what kind of work a roofer will do by their history. If a roofer comes to you with a deductible assistance offer, ask them a few questions: How long has your business been open? How much experience do you have with roofing? Can you refer me to any past clients you did work for? Will I be able to see all of the paperwork you send to the insurer?
If the answers to any of these questions don’t satisfy you, then don’t work with that contractor. It’s not worth saving a few hundred dollars in the short term to face a lawsuit down the road, or worse, to need a new roof in a year to replace shoddy workmanship and cheap materials.
Accord Construction is a licensed and certified Oklahoma City roofing contractor with years of experience. Our A+ rating from the Oklahoma BBB and our many satisfied customers show that we do great work at a great price. Call us today to get a free estimate for your roofing project, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for news and updates.