Hail Chasing: Pogo was right!

Posted on 03. Jun, 2009 by in General

The following is a blog post and an email response from a neighborhood friend who had landed a job with a roofing contractor. In a later email he disclosed that he had decided not to work for that company because of ethical considerations. My main point continues to be that roof shingle replacements were not based upon scientific fact and observation. I recently changed Home Insurance and found that I am now required to provide the age of the roof shingles AND that my rates are substantially higher because I have older shingles.

Hail Chasers
Friday, January 11, 2008

Who chases hail? Roofers, of course.

Some roofers will tell you that your roof has hail damage and that your homeowners insurance will pay for replacement.

Recent changes in the International Residential Code prohibit re-roofing in an area subject to moderate hail damage; Atlanta and north Georgia included.

Two words were added to the existing section:

In the old code re-covering of roof shingles was prohibited in areas subject to severe hail damage
The national hail exposure map identifies north-central Texas and portions of eastern Oklahoma as areas subject to severe damage

The new code prohibits re-covering in areas subject to moderate or severe hail damage.

This change increased the area covered by a factor of 17 to include western portions of the Midwest from near the Canadian border almost to the Gulf of Mexico and a 200 mile wide swath from the northern Georgia/Alabama border through northwestern South Carolina and all of North Carolina except for the tidewater and coastal counties.

I received an inquiry from an inspection client regarding marketing by a roofing company. The company had told them a recent storm had caused hail damage. The contractor told them they could get their homeowners insurance to pay the bulk of the replacement cost. They were asked to sign a blank contract.

Insurance adjusters disburse payments for shingle replacement but cannot risk walking on roofs. They rely on roofing contractors for a reliable assessment of shingle damage.

I inspected the roof and found no shingle damage other than normal wear and tear.

The contractor returned and reminded my clients that their neighbors were using his company. He also left literature remarkably similar to a well-known and reputable roofing company.

I called that company and found that this sort of ploy is very common. All it takes is a dishonest roofing contractor and a compliant insurance adjustor.

Homeowners who buy into this scheme receive an overpriced shingle job of questionable quality and, because they sign incomplete contracts, have no legal recourse should their roofs leak. In addition they are either knowingly or unwittingly participating in insurance fraud. The insurance company ends up paying 5000 of the 6000 dollar replacement cost.

Of course we all pay for this type of practice with higher insurance premiums.

There is little evidence that hail causes appreciable damage and substantial evidence that roofing contractors “create” damage. Read the following abstract

http://ams.confex.com/ams/11aram22sls/techprogram/paper_81091.htm

Shingles deteriorate when their surface granules wear away exposing the asphalt base to ultraviolet light. Hail can aggravate the loss of granules but is not a principle cause of granule loss.

I didn’t ask the International Code Council why they changed the wording.

Perhaps it’s because we are in a cycle of extreme weather and the potential for damage is greater.

Perhaps they don’t make shingles like they used to: newer shingles weigh less, have fewer granules for protection and therefore wear out quicker.

And no, I don’t think the Code officials are catering to the roofing industry.

But the result of this two word change in the code may have opened the door to possible fraud.

Just thought you might want to know, especially if you live in a 12-16 year old subdivision and there’s a roofer knocking on your door.

Caveat Emptor

Dan

Thomas,

I agree there is a legitimate aspect to what you do. Determining hail damage is the key to the whole process. You will never find ME on a 10:12 pitch 30ft off the ground.
Hail events are usually short and hailstones small. Other types of imperfections (like inspectors walking on roofs, shingle defects and weathering) are much, much, much more likely to be the cause of shingle failure. If you say hail reduces shingle life by a couple of years why doesn’t the insurer pay ONLY for the life lost; not a new roof. Statistically hail damage is not a major cause of damage. That doesn’t mean that there is no damage or a need for replacement, just that it does not figure that much in the general scheme of shingle failure. Dents on turtleback vents and HVAC endcaps is a minor concern. I have been climbing roofs for a long time and it strikes me as odd that the replacement business got started in earnest after the 2006 IRC code was adopted.

Dan

Subject: Home inspection from website

Hello Dan,

I read your article on “Hail Chasers”. Informative, but to me your article seems a little one sided. It sounds as though you know people that were victims of roofing contractors who perpetrated insurance fraud leaving them with a substandard product in their wake.

You have to admit that there is a need for a legitimate service that correctly inspects hail damage on behalf of the insured. Many people never go onto their own roofs, much less be able to identify hail damage. As I am new to ????? Contracting I have been told that insurance adjusters actually do get onto the roofs with project managers like myself to inspect the hail damage. If I get up onto a home owners roof and find hail damage and the insurance adjuster agrees that the roof has hail damage, then why shouldn’t that homeowner get a new roof? To me, it is no different than an insurance company totaling out a hail damaged car because it would cost too much to cover a 10 year old car with new body parts and a fresh paint job. Most people have no problems finding dents in a car they drive everyday.

All roofing material companies do not warrant their roofing product after it has been damage by hail.
Most insurance companies will not replace or re-roof a home that has “Old Hail” damage two years or older.
Most hail damage goes un-noticed for a couple years.

As you already know, hail damage may not propose a problem for several years. Eventually the aggregate wears off where the roof had been struck. This exposes the asphalt shorting the life of the roof. Then there is the unsightly look of all the spots that start to appear on the roof. Also, as a bi-product of hail damage is all the thin roofing metal that makes up the ventilation system. Sure, it probably still functions but is also unsightly and will affect the resale value of the home unless it is replaced. Most home inspectors I have worked with in the past report hail damage in their inspection reports even though such damage may not have compromised the roofs integrity at the time.

I agree, companies like the one I am starting to work for have the most to gain financially from such findings. In turn this drives companies like ?????? Contracting, Inc. to train and pay people like myself to get on roofs to find hail damage. I have found that this company is a reputable one that has been in business since 2005. It has a “Satisfactory” record with the BBB, which means, to date, no negative claims have been made on this company.

As a project manager for ????? Contracting working in a neighborhoods with reported hail damage, once I have acquired permission from the homeowners to inspect their roofs, it will take me an average of 10 roof inspections to find one with severe damage. Once I have confirmed hail damage with the insurance adjuster, I personally walk the homeowner in selecting their new roofing tiles, where I then prepare an estimate for the owner to file their insurance claim. Once accepted, I order the roofing materials. I inventory the materials when they arrive on the jobsite. I instruct the roofers on what it is they are to do or not to do. When the roof is completed, I personally inspect the roofers work and am also personally responsible for the job.

As in many services, (real estate sales included) the service is only as good as the individual offering the service. I am sure that there are companies like the one you are referring to in your article that take many advantages against unknowledgeable homeowners and insurance companies in a storm damage situation bordering on or committing outright fraud, I really don’t believe ?????? Contracting, Inc. is one of those types of companies. It’s like the old expression, leave it up to a couple of rotten apples to ruin the bushel.

When I first heard about this field of work, I thought, “What a great service. If I had unknown hail damage that was shortening the lifespan of my roof and possibly lowering the value of my home, I would want to know about it, in addition, I would want my homeowners insurance to fix it.” That is, after all, what insurance is for, don’t you agree? When you get a chance, check out this company’s website and Google search ??????? Contracting, Inc., you won’t find anything negative about this company. However, if by some chance you do, please let me know.

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