Don’t storm ahead, owners of homes with damage from hail told

Reading Eagle

by Staff

If your home was damaged in the May 22 hailstorm, it could be some time until you get it fixed.

There are many people in the same boat, so insurance adjusters and contractors have their hands full.

Luckily, the damage that most homeowners face is cosmetic, so there's time to research contractors to hire for the repairs and wait for them to be available.

"It feels like an emergency but it's not an emergency," Christian Malesic, executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Berks County, said during an information session Tuesday about coping with the hail damage.

He spoke along with county Detective Robert Heiden and Jeff Roholy of the state Insurance Department about navigating the repair process and working with contractors and insurance companies.

Here are some of the tips they provided:

Ask for documents: 
The contractor you pick should have a registration number from the state attorney general's office. Check the number with the office's website: You should also make sure the contractor is insured by requesting a certificate be sent directly from the insurance company.

Check background: 
Ask for references and check if the contractor is a member of professional organizations wherever it is based.

Ask questions: 
State law requires contractors to have a contract with customers for any job of more than $500. Go over the contract with the contractor in detail and ask questions if you're not sure.

Be wary of solicitors: 
Most contractors are busy, so if someone's driving around looking for jobs, be wary. Don't feel pressured into a contract; take time to do research.

Document repairs: 
If you make repairs yourself, save all receipts and take before, during and after photos. You might need to prove to the insurance company that there was damage. If you buy a tarp to cover damage, save that receipt, too.

Report anything suspicious: 
Even if it's not something police could prosecute, if enough people report the same contractor, police could show a pattern.

The Home Builders Association of Berks County has information about the repair process on its website,