Action 9

Action 9: Hidden camera investigation reveals the high cost of 'free' roof offers

ORLANDO,Fla. — Action 9 exposed some bogus offers to replace home roofs for free.

In a hidden camera investigation, Action 9’s Todd Ulrich found out how the offers drive up the cost of insurance.

The fliers left on front doors may claim a roof is damaged, and can be replaced for free.

Several homeowners contacted Action 9 after receiving the fliers, suspecting ELR Restoration would bill their insurance for damage that didn't exist.

“It says I've got roof damage and I know he's full of mud, excuse my French,” said homeowner Gilbert Croft.

Ulrich put it to a test at a home near Oviedo.

First, Ulrich had a licensed roofing consultant inspect the roof of the home.

“Was there hail damage on this roof?” asked Ulrich.

“No sir. Just normal wear and tear,” replied Joel Hammock with William John Associates.

An employee from ELR responded after Ulrich had a volunteer call about the flier.

An ELR employee said he found a lot of damage on the roof and that it would need to be replaced.

The employee showed the volunteer pictures of hail damage he found and explained the process, saying the insurance company would handle everything.

Ulrich confronted the ELR employee about his findings.

“Hey Juan, Todd Ulrich from Channel 9. Did you find hail damage on this house?” asked Ulrich.

“Did I find hail damage?”

“Yeah that's the question,” Ulrich reiterated.

“What's up with the camera?” replied Juan.

Our cameras recorded what he did. He never left the small area above the garage.

“We watched your inspection. You spend a lot of time smoking and on your phone,” said Ulrich.

“Uh huh.”

Ulrich said, “This is the only section you were on.”

“That's all I needed to see,” said Juan.

Ulrich asked Joel Hammock what he thought about Juan’s pictures proving hail-damaged shingles.

“Obviously it has nothing to do with hail at all,” said Hammock.

An insurance industry study found huge increases in exaggerated damage claims where contractors took over through assignment of benefits.

“There's no such thing as a free roof,” said Lisa Pate, Executive Director of the Florida Roofing Association.

Her organization and others fighting the potential scam claim it could drive up everyone's premiums by 10 percent.

“Often times, homeowners don't understand it's not real damage,” said Pate.

An ELR manager said the employee was actually their consultant who educates consumers, and ELR did nothing wrong.

“I've got the expert who says you're full of it,” Ulrich said to Juan as he got in his truck and drove off.

If you suspect actual damage, Ulrich suggests getting a few quotes from licensed contractors, and consumer advocates suggest staying in control of the insurance claim.