Storm Chaser Reforms Enacted In New York

A new law gives homeowners much-needed protections against storm-chasing contractors who exploit natural disasters in New York, says the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill today imposing key consumer protections in the Empire State:
Written contracts are required for repair work (roof, gutter, downspout and siding).
Contractors are forbidden to offer rebates or to pay policy deductibles.
Contractors must disclose their liability coverage and policy limits.

“This law will help chase storm chasers out of New York. It has pulled the roof off contractor cons that have caused homeowners so much grief and expense. New York has rolled up the welcome mat and put contractors on notice that they’d better stay honest or suffer the penalties,” says Matthew Smith, director of government affairs for the Coalition.

The law was inspired by rampant contractor scams that exploited distraught homeowners after Megastorm Sandy inflicted serious damage to homes in areas of New York in in 2012. At least 171 cases of contractor fraud arose in New York after Sandy, stealing millions of dollars from homeowners in the Empire State.

Many homeowners lost thousands of dollars apiece to contractors who stole their down payments, then disappeared after doing few or no repairs. Substandard repairs also had to be redone at considerable cost. Contractors often were unlicensed and out of state. Many went door to door to market for repair business. The measure takes effect in 180 days. The bill cleared the legislature on a strong bipartisan vote.

Enactment comes after a multi-year effort by state and national groups. The bill was backed by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. The New York Insurance Association and National Roofing Contractors Association were among the key partners in the lengthy push for passage.

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Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud is America’s only anti-fraud alliance speaking for consumers, insurance companies, government agencies and others. Through its unique work, the Coalition empowers consumers to fight back, helps fraud fighters better detect this crime and deters more people from committing fraud.

Matthew Smith