A growing number of individuals are trying to profit from the insurance claims process by convincing unsuspecting homeowners that they need a new roof.

With hurricane season upon us, it is just as important to prepare for storms as it is to protect yourself afterwards from scams. Last season, the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud successfully investigated two significant fraud schemes that preyed on the trust of Floridians. They arrested five NBRC Roofing Company employees for organizing a $525,000 insurance scam. The Tampa-based company was accused of leaving 97 Florida homeowners with unfinished roof repairs and liens on their homes after stealing insurance money intended to pay subcontractors.

The investigation discovered the roofing scam involved visiting homeowners following a storm, convincing them roof repairs were necessary, helping the homeowners file insurance claims for repairs and finally convincing them to give NBRC the sole right to make the repairs and the assignment of benefits for the insurance claims. But once NBRC was paid for the insurance claim, the repairs would not be completed and the insurance money would be pocketed by NBRC employees.

How To Prevent This From Happening To You

Make sure you take these three steps first in protecting yourself from a roofing insurance scam.

1. Beware of anyone who solicits your business or tries to convince you they can get you something for free.

2. Don’t sign contracts you don’t fully understand. Many companies only require you to sign a work authorization form. Any contract that states “assignment of benefits” is something that needs to be read carefully to fully understand the impact on you.

3. Understand your coverage. Insurance is for sudden unexpected events not for normal wear-and-tear.