‘They want me to pay $4,600 for them to do nothing’: Risky home repair contracts can be costly

ORLANDO, Fla. — A warning from Action 9 to homeowners scrambling for new roofs before the peak of hurricane season.

A Winter Garden man claims he just lost thousands on a risky contract and never even got the new roof.

Ulises Alvarado faces another hurricane season with a damaged roof. He says that months ago, a local roofing contractor promised that would not happen.

Alvarado said he was told, “‘We’re going to take care of it. You won’t have to pay a dime.’”

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He claims a salesman from Nationwide Roofing on Orange Ave. in Orlando, said his company would handle the insurance claim and Alvarado wouldn’t even have to pay the deductible.

“‘We’ll give you a sign to advertise our company and we’ll take care of that,’” Alvarado said.

When the claim was first denied, the roofing contractor sent a public adjuster to make Alvarado’s case. He says the first time he met the adjuster was at his front door, after the claim was settled for $18,000.

“‘I need you to endorse it so I can get my fees out of the check’ and I’m like ‘woah, I don’t even know who you are, buddy,’” Alvarado said.

Then, Alvarado says, Nationwide told him he still had to pay $5,000 more than the settlement plus the deductible.

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He asked another roofing contractor for an estimate and was told it would cost far less for a new roof.

The original contract was supposed to save Alvarado money but would now cost him thousands more. Then he discovered the cost to cancel.

Nationwide Roofing demanded $4,600 as a cancellation fee.

“So, they want me to pay $4,600 for them to do nothing,” Alvarado said.

Nationwide Roofing is rated A-plus by the Better Business Bureau because it works to resolve complaints, but other consumers say it took over control of their claims and big problems followed. The company has had 15 complaints in three years with the BBB. One consumer claims they signed with Nationwide Roofing over two years ago, they never got a new roof and say the company is holding on to their insurance money. Another consumer is disputing a cancellation fee and claims they were never given any documents showing estimates or scope of work.

Insurance expert Tom Cotton warns against any offers to pay your insurance deductibles.

“That should be the first thing that raises suspicion is they’re making a promise they can’t keep,” Cotton said.

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Florida has restricted Assignment of Benefits contracts, but the agreement Alvarado signed gave the contractor control over the insurance.

“They now control the money and controlling the money is the only way to control the contractor,” Cotton said.

Nationwide Roofing told Todd Ulrich it never waives deductibles, that its contract terms and cancellation fees are fully disclosed, and that Alvarado refused to allow Nationwide to complete its contract.

Alvarado is disputing the cancellation fee and looking for a new contractor.

“I want my roof fixed,” Alvarado said.

Bottom line: if any roof contractor says you don’t have to pay an insurance deductible, show them the door.

Nationwide Roofing and GC LLC is a separate contractor in Saint Cloud and is not related to Nationwide Roofing, Orange Ave, Orlando in any way.

Nationwide Roofing on Orange Avenue in Orlando response:

On October 6, 2020, Mr. Ulises Alvarado signed Nationwide Roofing’s contract, hiring Nationwide to inspect his roof -- which Mr. Alvarado believed had suffered storm damage and for which he had submitted an insurance claim -- and then repair the roof if Mr. Alvarado’s insurance company agreed to Nationwide’s estimate. Nationwide inspected Mr. Alvarado’s roof and produced a detailed estimate free of charge, and found enough evidence of storm damage to refer Mr. Alvarado to a public adjuster (it would be illegal for Nationwide to act as a public adjuster without a license).

In his contract, Mr. Alvarado agreed that Nationwide’s estimate would set the contract price between himself and Nationwide, and that if his insurance company agreed to the scope of work in the estimate, Nationwide would perform the work for the price the insurance company agreed to pay. The contract also provided that Mr. Alvarado had three days to cancel without penalty or recourse, after which, if he cancelled, Nationwide would be entitled to 20% of the estimate amount.

Because Mr. Alvarado’s insurance company had already denied his claim for roof damage, unless a public adjuster or attorney was hired to represent Mr. Alvarado’s interests, the insurance company would not pay anything on his claim. Accordingly, on December 11, 2020, Mr. Alvarado signed a contract with Swift Claims Consulting Services, LLC, hiring them to serve as his public adjuster who would represent him before his insurance company. Like the Nationwide contract, the Swift contract gave Mr. Alvarado three days to cancel without penalty or recourse. Mr. Alvarado never cancelled the Swift Contract, which also directed Swift to pay Nationwide, out of any insurance recovery, any amounts due from Mr. Alvarado for contracting services. In other words, if Swift was able to obtain payment from Mr. Alvarado’s insurance company for the storm damage, Nationwide would be required to re-roof Mr. Alvarado’s home, with Swift paying the insurance proceeds to Nationwide on Mr. Alvarado’s behalf.

Swift was eventually successful in obtaining a recovery from Mr. Alvarado’s insurance company, which totaled $23,000. Swift was entitled to a 10% fee of $2,300 and reimbursement of $1,500 for the appraiser who had to be hired after the insurance company invoked the provision in Mr. Alvarado’s insurance policy requiring appraisal of any loss.1 It is no exaggeration to say that, without an appraiser, Mr. Alvarado would not have obtained any recovery.

Up to this point, Mr. Alvarado cooperated Swift’s and Nationwide Roofing’s efforts to obtain an insurance recovery and re-roof his home. However, after learning of Swift’s $23,000 recovery, Mr. Alvarado’s tone and posture immediately shifted. Rather than being cooperative, for the first time, Mr. Alvarado acted confrontational, refusing to pay Swift or Nationwide and refusing to allow Nationwide to perform its agreed-upon work.

After Mr. Alvarado communicated his intention to cancel the Nationwide contract, Nationwide had two options: either sue Mr. Alvarado for failing to honor his promise, or exercised its rights under the contract’s cancellation clause, by which Mr. Alvarado agreed to pay a 20% cancellation fee if he elected to cancel the contract outside of the three-day cancellation period. Nationwide Roofing prides itself on its fair, open, and honest customer service. Nationwide’s contract terms are clear and simple. Nationwide never offers to “waive” deductibles.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.