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Question DetailsAsked on 7/9/2016

Contractors refuse to give roof replacement estimates in San Antonio, TX 78023 without insurance report

Due to hailstorm in Helotes, TX in April 2016, several contractors stopped by house to look at hail damage. None of them want to provide an estimate of cost to replace roof. They want to look at insurance report and estimate or be present when insurance adjuster comes to do his review.

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In general, I don't like "ambulance chaser" contractors - a lot of them are scammers. Dropping by and saying we noticed you have hail damage, here is our brochure and we would like to give you a free estimate when you are ready - that is fine, but before you start talking to contractors about getting bids I would screen them the same as if this was a planned roof replacement - find well-rated and reviewed long-time local contractors to consider, then get bids from the ones you want. If the door-to-door knockers happen to be on that list fine, but I would guess in most cases they are not.

Yeah - a lot do that, because they do not want to leave any insurance money lying on the table. In fact, a common scam is to bid the job at the TOTAL damage repair assessment by the claims adjuster (before subtracting your deductible and any amortization/depreciation allowance to arrive at the actual amount to be paid out by them) and then adding on the deductible amout. So say the repair cost is estimated at $10,000 by the adjuster, and you have a $2000 deductible, and replacement-cost coverage so no depreciation deduction. Insurance company would pay $8000 in this case, and you the $2000 deductible.

However, some contractors will bid the job to YOU saying $10,000 adjustment plus the $2000 deductible = $12,000 total charge. This sort of paper number game gets even easier when depreciation/amortization is included in the picture because most people do not understand how that works in the first place.

On the being there when adjuster comes - this is where it gets tricky. Can be good because the contractor will be trying to show more damage and get the adjusted claim amount higher so he can charge more for the job. Bad because unless you know a roofer you trust implicitly and intend to use regardless, very few will do this unless you FIRST sign a contract with them saying you WILL use them for the job - so you are locked in BEFORE the adjuster shows up.

The whole system stinks and is really stupid when you think about it - the logical way to do this is for the adjuster to look at the situation, contractors to bid on the work WITHOUT seeing the insurance amount, then the selected contractor and adjuster get together if needed to argue out any increase in the adjusted amount ONLY IF the adjusted amount is less than the lowest responsive and reliable/acceptable contractor bid. This way the adjustment could be increased if he missed some damage or costs, but otherwise the insurance company would only pay the reasonable cost, which in at least many cases is less than what they estimate. I have seen insurance payments, especially on flood and fire rehabs, run 50-100% over what the contractor would have bid the job for without seeing the adjusters numbers first, so it raises insurance costs for everyone. There are contractors I have seen who survive TOTALLY on insurance payments and will accept the insurance company payments without question because they are frequently consistently higher than they should be. Doing it sight-unseen would also greatly reduce the corruption, because the adjuster would not know who the contractor is going to be up-front, so no easy opportunity for bribes or kickbacks.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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