Troubleshooter: Roof insurance claims

November 8, 2010 3:55:08 PM PST
Sherry and Russell Williams' problems began when they say they got a knock on the door from a man who told them he was with American Shingle roofing company.

"He said there was a bad storm the end of March with some hail and high winds and there was some possibility of some damage," Sherry Williams recalled. "Told us about a free inspection of our roof - that we could possibly get a new roof out of it."

The catch was if the Williams' insurance company representative found damage, she'd agree to sign a contract saying American Shingle would have exclusive rights to do the repair work.

"They called our insurance adjustor right in front of us. They set up an appointment for the insurance inspector to inspect with roof with them," said Williams.

That week, the William's insurance adjuster and the American Shingle representative inspected the roof together.

"They said we did in fact have hail and wind damage and they submitted it to the insurance company and it was enough to cover the entire roof," said Williams. "We were thinking how lucky can you be to get a roof and not have to pay for it out of our own pocket."

Williams said they felt especially lucky because the roof was 16-year-old and still the insurer agreed to pay more than $4,800. Williams called American Shingle to get started.

"When I started calling it went to voicemail, and I couldn't get anyone to answer," she recalled.

It turned out American Shingle had closed up shop - not only in North Carolina, but all 10 states where it did business.

But, the Williams say their representative from American Shingle came back around and said he could still help them out.

"He told us this was a company that's been in business for a while and they were coming in and taking over all the customers American Shingle couldn't handle any more," said Williams.

Williams says they were told the new company was Carolina Roofing and Construction. They were skeptical, but already had the insurance check, so they signed a contract worth $5,000.

"We gave them a check which was two-thirds of the money which was 34-hundred dollars," said Williams.

But once the check was gone, the Williams say so was Carolina Roofing and Construction.

"No one showed up. No one brought a dumpster. I couldn't get in touch with anyone," said Russell Williams.

It was essentially the same runaround they got from American Shingle.

"Why would one company recommend the other company? And why would the second company say they're coming in to take over all the customer's that American Shingle could not fulfill and now they're doing the same thing?" Williams asked.

Melissa Kamping says she knows why.

"I think to them it was just a money maker," she explained.

Kamping says she worked for Carolina Roofing and Construction for the one month they operated in the Triangle area. She says they opened almost immediately after American Shingle shut down.

"Some of the people that worked for American Shingle came along to Carolina Roofing and Construction and they used to work for American Shingle, so everybody thought we were the same company," said Kamping.

Kamping says in the month she worked there, more than $15,000 worth of insurance checks came in, but said she doesn't think a single roof went up.

"As far as I know, I have not heard that any of the roofs got fixed," she said.

Instead, she says Carolina Roofing and Construction quickly closed down and left her a victim too.

"Your paycheck bounced. It came up saying insufficient funds," she said.

As for the Williams?

"I received the bankruptcy notice in the mail," said Sherry Williams.

First American Shingle then Carolina Roofing and Construction - both bankrupt.

"I think it's absolutely horrible that a company can come in and take your money with the promise of doing some work and be protected under the bankruptcy law," said Williams.

And it's not just the Williams who have been victimized. Their neighbors fell for it too. So did hundreds more in North Carolina alone.

The North Carolina Attorney General's Office tells ABC11 it is investigating the ties between American Shingle and Carolina Roofing and Construction. But despite what Kamping told ABC11, the AG says it hasn't found a direct connection - just similar sales tactics. Carolina Roofing and Construction’s home base was located in Georgia, with the main company being known as Georgia Roofing and Construction.

The Department of Insurance, other southeast states, and even the US Secret Service are all also investigating American Shingle because there allegedly could be federal financial crimes.

For the affected homeowners, the insurance companies are out the money paid, but the homeowners now potentially face higher premiums because they filed claims - even though they didn't get new roofs out of it.

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