Illegal for roofers to act as insurance adjusters, experts warn

Storm-damaged roofs can bring out crooked roofers who make false claims

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The severe storm that swept through the Jacksonville area Monday left many homeowners and businesses with damaged roofs.

That's an environment ripe for an illegal activity that often plagues Florida: Roofers claiming they can act as insurance adjusters to help settle claims.

The Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters said they see this all the time, and they're in the process of sending out cease and desist orders to multiple contractors around the state to stop this practice. They said it can often cause delays in home or business owners getting money for an insurance claim.

"They have to be licensed public insurance adjusters or attorneys. And when you have individuals or companies trying to convince homeowners that their contracting or roofing license permits them to handle insurance claims, that's incorrect," said Nancy Dominguez of FAPIA. "Not only is it incorrect, it's against the law."

Dominguez said while the practice is illegal, contractors are typically not charged criminally.

"They promise the world to these homeowners, and they cannot legally handle their claim," said J.C. Lundskow of David Merritt Roofing & Construction, a longtime Jacksonville roofing company. "You have to be a licensed adjuster to handle a claim. Now, we can meet the adjuster out there for the homeowner."

Lundskow called the crooked roofers fly-by-night operators that swing into town and take advantage of homeowners, often doing substandard work while claiming they can help them with an insurance claim.

"There are thousands of them," Lundskow said. "These guys are hanging door flyers out, door hangers out; it is unbelievable. I mean, they have a sales team of 50 to 100 people hitting every single neighborhood, and they're going to be gone in two years, and then what's going to happen to your roof when your roof has problems and they're not here?"

To find a good contractor, it's important to research the contractor's track record with the Better Business Bureau and to be sure the contractor has good contact information in case there's a problem.

And be leery if someone shows up at the door saying there's a problem with your roof.

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