Neighbors accuse door-to-door notaries of offering free roof replacement

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TAMPA BAY — Nothing in Florida law prevents contractors from cold calling homeowners, and ABC Action News recently discovered that men working for a Tampa Bay roofer told residents they were likely qualified to a free roof thanks to their insurance company.

Melissa Crans captured the door knock and sales pitch on her Ring camera. Crans did not answer the door and spoke to the two strangers through the Ring speakerphone. She said she wasn’t interested, but they persisted. The men told her that an inspector would come by later to determine if her roof qualified for a free replacement.

Melissa Crans

One of the men said he represented a contractor who was renovating homes in the Oldsmar area.

“They’re just one company working with all of the homeowner’s insurance to cover the cost of roof replacements,” he told her.

Down the street from Crans, owner Trigg Kelley told ABC Action News three men recently approached him about a rooftop giveaway.

“I said I already had a roofer,” Kelley recalled. “And they said, ‘we can get it for free through your insurance.'”

ABC Action News called the roofer listed on the card left in Crans to ask about door knocks and free roof pitches. He said they had surveyed neighborhoods affected by the weather and offered to check roofs for storm damage that might be covered by insurance. The contractor said he would talk to employees about the use of the words “open roofs”.

ABC Action News is not naming the roofer because there is nothing illegal about the door knocking. In 2021, Governor DeSantis signed a bill that prohibits such solicitations. A judge blocked this part of Senate Bill 76 after a roofer filed a lawsuit claiming the law violated free speech.

But former Florida Insurance Assistant Commissioner Lisa Miller and other insurance experts partly blame those cold calls for Florida’s skyrocketing premiums.

Miller told ABC Action News, “Insurance companies don’t replace roofs unless there’s a legitimate claim for damage.”

Door-to-door solicitations like these can lead to denied insurance claims and roofers suing insurance companies. The Insurance Information Institute said more than 100,000 lawsuits were filed against Florida property insurers in 2021 alone. That’s about 76% of lawsuits filed nationwide.

A new law, passed in May, is expected to affect contractors carrying out insurance-based work. Senate Bill 2-D changed the requirement that a roof damaged by 25% or more must be replaced. If your roof meets the 2007 building code, you have the option of repairing it.

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