Picture it. A sunny Saturday morning. There’s a knock at the door just as you’re finishing breakfast. It’s a man from a local roofing company. He offers you a free roof inspection because a windstorm passed through the area a few months earlier. You accept. Surprisingly, he finds wind damage and says you need a new roof.

That’s what happened to me.

Panicked, but still skeptical, I asked several questions, which he answered, citing Florida’s regulations. My trust in him began to grow. Sensing I was overwhelmed, he assured me that he would take care of everything with our home insurance company and manage the entire process for us. All I had to do was sign an agreement. Relieved at the thought of having one less thing on my plate, I eagerly signed.

Later, my husband and I took a second look at the agreement. Imagine our disbelief when we discovered the agreement contained language that gave the contractor full control of the insurance claim. By signing the agreement, I had unintentionally given up our rights and agreed to:  

  • authorize my insurance company to make all claim payments payable to the contractor
  • grant authorization for the mortgage company to speak with the contractor
  • pay for any additional work or upgrades not approved by our insurance company

To make matters worse, our roof actually has no damage. The contractor lied about the damage. We were blindsided and want to do all we can to alert other homeowners of this cunning, deceitful scheme.

Protect yourself from falling victim to insurance fraud by never, ever signing anything you haven’t fully read or don’t understand—don’t just take the contractor’s “word” for it. An agreement is not needed to report an insurance claim. Remember, your first step is to contact your home insurance company right away if your home is damaged or you suspect damage. We consider ourselves pretty savvy, but still got duped. The best things in life are free, but there is no such thing as a free roof.