Neighboritis Defined

If you have worked with more than ten claims resulting from any kind of hail storm youve probably been exposed to what is commonly known as neighboritis.  Neighboritis is practically like a bad case of the flu; it spreads easily. The only logical cure is awareness of this costly and time consuming problem.

Neighboritis is a serious condition that needs to be addressed because it is damaging to independent adjusting companies and independent adjusters. The effects of neighboritis in relation to independent adjusting companies are discussed in this separate post.

Neighboritis happens in following stages:

  1. A roofing sales person claims to be a hail expert and finds a neighborhood that was never really exposed to hail damage, or was exposed to hail that did not caused damages.  The sales person knocks on a door and claims to be a roofing expert, explaining to the homeowner / insured that they were exposed to hail and that they have damages on their roof.  The roofing sales person then offers the homeowner a new roof at NO COST, but only if he can inspect their roof right away and usually before the insurer is even notified of any potential claim.
  2. The roofing sales person then works to smooth out any skepticism the property owner has by explaining the various values of a new roof in relation to property value.  Homeowners catch on to the concept that they could end up with a new roof at no cost and it takes little convincing that hail may have fallen and damaged their roof when they werent aware.
  3. The salesman convinces the homeowner that they need to conduct a brief roof inspection to see the hail damages.
  4. The salesman pushes the homeowner to sign a contingency agreement, although usually unenforceable by law.
  5. The roofing sales person gives the property owner incentives to spread the word (neighboritis) by offering $500.00, $1,000.00 and larger referrals if neighbors sign on for their roof at no cost.
  6. In the worst case scenario, the roofing salesman tells a story of his or her working with neighbor John Doe on his roof for hail related damages; all of which are a result of only having a contingency agreement.
  7. One or two inexperienced property insurers pay for roof replacement when it was completely not necessary or by having mistaken mechanical damages for those caused by hail, thereby initiating one roofing salesman to claim that other roofs were replaced because of hail damage.  In extreme circumstances, a roofing company may have been hired outside of an insurance settlement to replace an aged roof and the same company comes back several months later, after hail occurred in a remote area, advertising that a nearby neighbor had their roof replaced (not indicating why) and thereby starting a frenzy in the area.

As you can imagine, the question has and continues to remain about what happens when said roofing salesperson is up on the that roof with no supervision? What is the viewpoint of a profitable insurance adjusting company on neighboritis?

Eight years ago I was on a roof with a roofing salesman named Mike who would bend down towards the shingles every time I turned around to take a photo or put my eye up to the viewfinder.  I couldnt help but notice the little yellow lighter Mike was clutching from the corner of my eye.  Just as I suspected he was making his own damages hoping I would mistake them as those caused by hail.  Mike wasnt the first nor the last but these salesman have wised up to creating false damages in front on insurance claim professionals.  Since then Ive personally witnessed and documents familiar conditions on 8 other occasions; most of which occurred prior to the times we were expected to meet for a survey.

So, to answer the question of what could happen when a roofing sales person is on a roof with no supervision or oversight lets just say the potential for mechanical damages not caused by hail exists.  Neighboritis is a deceiving tactic used by roofing sales persons and companies to extract money for claims that do not legitimately exist.

Neighboritis can be prevented with awareness.  One way to help prevent this condition is for insurers to notify their clients in high-hail areas that roofing salesmen are out and to be aware of their sales-roof inspection tactics.  The general population in hail and storm chasing contractor areas can get used to the idea of joint roofing surveys prior to allowing a financially motivated roofing salesman on a roof.

What do you think about changing the ways that insurers and property owners work with roofing companies?  Wed love to hear your input leave a comment!

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