In 43 years in the roofing industry, Suzie Boyd said she had never seen anything quite like what was uncovered during.
"The behavior of that salesman, while disgusting and certainly disturbing, is not representative of most in our industry," said Boyd, after watching the 2-and-a-half minute surveillance video obtained by CBS News Colorado.
The video came from an incident Aug. 22 when David Kuntz, a salesman for Timberland Exteriors of Colorado, was ostensibly checking a home in Parker's Newlin Meadows subdivision for hail damage. The homeowner said Kuntz told the family they needed a new roof due to hail damage and told them to open an insurance claim because "he could get it all covered."
Kuntz didn't know a surveillance camera was rolling as he inspected the home's garage door. He appears to repeatedly use a tool of some sort to create dents on the garage door.
"It appears that he is manufacturing 'hits,'" said Boyd, who has been in the roofing industry for 43 years. She is currently with Academy Roofing and is the past president of the Colorado Roofing Association.
"It's disheartening when you hear this stuff," said Boyd.
"His compensation is based on sales and the size of the claim. If the claim is larger then his compensation is larger as well."
In an on-camera interview with CBS News Colorado, Kuntz acknowledged that what was caught on camera "didn't look right."
"It was a bad representation. It was an off day," he said.
He claimed he was using his thumb to push in on the garage door "trying to feel for the hail dents, trying to see if it's insulated or not. I'm not making damage to help them (homeowners)."
Asked if he was using a tool to make the dents, Kuntz said he was not and was only using his thumb.
But in several places on the video, Kuntz appeared to be using a metallic tool to push in on the garage door.
"Behavior like his hurts our efforts so much," said Boyd. "There are bad actors out there for sure right now."
The homeowners said after seeing the video of what Kuntz had done, they decided not to pursue an insurance claim on their home.
Hailstorms have caused an estimated $5 billion in damage in Colorado in the last decade, according to the insurance industry. One estimate is that in a recent 3 year period, questionable hail claims grew 34%.
Boyd said she does not think what was seen on video was a common practice, but she said she had heard of it happening but had never actually seen it caught on tape.
"He's inflating the claim, that's what's happening," said Boyd.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers the following tips to avoid contractor fraud:
- Be suspicious of any contractor who tries to rush you, especially on non-emergency or temporary repairs. If possible, shop around for a contractor by getting recommendations from friends and neighbors. Be wary of anyone knocking on your door offering unsolicited repairs to your home.
- Never pay for work up front. Always inspect the work and make sure you're satisfied before you pay. Most contractors will require a reasonable down payment on work, but don't pay anything until you have a written contract.
- Get three written estimates for the work and compare bids. Check credentials with the Better Business Bureau or state attorney general's office to see if the firm has any outstanding complaints.
- Always have a written, detailed contract that clearly states everything the contractor will do, including prices for labor and materials, clean-up procedures, and estimated start and finish dates. Never sign a contract with blank spaces, which a crooked contractor can alter after they have gotten your signature.
- Don't believe a contractor who says they are supported by the government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not endorse individual contractors or loan companies; call FEMA toll-free at 800.621.FEMA for more information.
- Avoid paying with cash; use a check or credit card instead. This creates a record of your payments to the contractor.
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