“Storm chasers” bill awaits decision from governor

News, Weather

May 18th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A bill awaiting Governor Branstad’s review would establish new requirements in hopes of cracking down on so-called “storm chasers.” Consumer complaints about contractors who ride into town after a tornado or other disaster, but provide substandard or no repairs at all prompted legislators to draft the bill. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, says if the bill becomes law, contractors will have to provide a written document to the home owner, spelling out how the deal may be canceled. “It requires contractors to provide notice to the person that is receiving the repair, the residential homeowner, prior to them entering into a contract,” McCoy says. The lettering on that document is to be “at least 10 points” high and in “bold” which means it can’t be tiny, unreadable type at the bottom of the page. Contractors could also get into trouble for misleading marketing to home owners. McCoy says there are some common tricks. 

“Misrepresenting themselves as a negotiator or an adjuster on a claim,” McCoy says. If the bill becomes law, it would be illegal for a contractor to offer a rebate or reduction on the cost of repairs that’s equal to the homeowner’s insurance deductible. The bill also stipulates a homeowner who receives notice from their insurance company that the repairs are NOT covered by their home owner’s policy have three days to notify the contractor they want to cancel the work. In some cases alleged “storm chasers” who quickly arrive on the scene after a calamity have convinced home owners their insurance will pay to replace their entire roof, only have the claim denied by their insurance company.

(O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)