Scams

Pensacola area contractors warn of scams, see high demand

Madison Arnold, Pensacola News Journal
Published 6:00 a.m. CT Sept. 25, 2020 | Updated 3:52 p.m. CT Sept. 25, 2020

More than a week after Hurricane Sally made landfall, Shirley Hopkins has already had to re-tack the blue tarp to the roof of her East Yonge Street home so Thursday morning’s rain wouldn’t seep in like it did last week.

“Every so often you have to go back and add some more of those roofing nails because the wind gets under the tarp and it blows the tarp up and with all the rain coming in, you absolutely have to have it down all the time because it’s going to cause the leaks that are in your house to become worse,” Hopkins said. “We’re just hoping that it’s going to hold out for a few days.”

Hopkins lost about two-thirds of her roof, which caused rain water to drip into her home, through the ceiling and onto her carpet. Now she’s worried about mold setting in and she still can’t connect with any roofers to inspect her home.

“Every time we see a sign (for a roofer), we write it down and we call. And they say ‘OK, we’re going to get back with you,'” Hopkins said. “We’ve had some trouble getting people really to come out or return calls.”

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Roofers and contractors around the Pensacola area are being inundated with calls from residents who have wind, water and tree damage to their homes and property following the storm. That may leave residents like Hopkins who can’t get connected with roofers or contractors vulnerable to scams, shoddy work or unlicensed companies.

“I know that time is critical and I think people have that sense of urgency and they want to get back

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General Contractor Overhead And Profit And AOB Insurance Scams

A storm is rising, and it is not the type which causes damage to homes and vehicles. It causes damage of a much more insidious nature. Following a storm or other natural disaster, canvassers hired by the “hail cartel”—lawyers or opportunistic general contractors—can be found blanketing a neighborhood and knocking on doors.

“I’m here to get you a new roof,” the canvasser says. They tell the innocent homeowner that he or she has roof damage that they may not have noticed and that they are entitled to 20% more for “general contractor overhead and profit,” even if no general contractor is necessary. They locate and fabricate damages which either did not exist or were pre-existing and ask the homeowner to sign an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) and promise them a new roof at no cost and with no hassle on their part.

This is repeated thousands of times across entire zip codes. A lawsuit is quickly filed against the insurance company, even before they are given notice of a claim. Policyholders are misinformed, contractors circumvent statutory and policy guidelines, contractors and general adjusters inflate damages, and attorneys apply mass tort models with the promise of large attorney’s fees to simple property damage claims.

Claim solicitation efforts such as these have ensnared innocent homeowners in unnecessary lawsuits in recent years by promising big payouts at no cost following hail or other natural disasters. The result of the widespread scheme is higher insurance premiums and less choice in insurance companies throughout many states. AOB scams have become the largest cost-driver in the insurance industry and are having a widespread, detrimental effect on consumers across the country. The mess they create complicates and makes more difficult the carrier’s efforts to subrogate a loss if and when there is a third party responsible for

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