Canada

Families waiting for repairs 6 months after hailstorm sound contractor concerns

CALGARY —
Six months since the costliest hailstorm in Canadian history hit northeast Calgary, some people are still scrambling to try and get repairs done but experts urge them to be wary of the contractor they choose.

The June 13 hailstorm caused an estimated $1.2 billion in damage, sparking 70,000 insurance claims for damaged homes and vehicles.

Two homeowners still waiting for repairs say they received hostile messages from a contractor who provided them estimates.

“It makes me nervous,” said Annalin Mediano.

The families did not put any money down but signed agreements with a Calgary contractor called Platinum Construction and Roofing based upon insurance covering the costs.

But families’ insurance companies rejected the contractor’s estimates.

Some insurance providers will only approve estimates from preferred vendors, vetted for experience and qualifications.

When Mediano told Platinum she did not want to use its business, she says she received aggressive messages pressing her to proceed.

“If you do not do anything we will sue you and lien your house,” she said one text message read.

She wasn’t alone. Bert Roda said he received an email saying if he did not respond the company would refer his file to its lawyer.

Outside contractors

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says a policyholder does have the authority to use whoever they want, but the work of outside contractors is not guaranteed by the insurance company.

“What if something goes wrong after a year?” said Roda.

“There’s no web address, there’s no office address (on Platinum’s paperwork). How will I be able to contact this guy?”

Roda and Mediano both asked the contractor to provide its business licence but then did not hear back from the business.

CTV spoke with the owner of Calgary’s Platinum Construction and Roofing, Steve Meronek, who said his company did not have a business licence but has now applied for one.

Meronek also claimed his company has not threatened to sue anyone but messages to both clients shown to CTV News indicate otherwise.

IBC said the massive hailstorm saw an influx of contractors trying to secure business.

“There are a number of roofing companies that popped up in Calgary after the June 13 hailstorm that may not be qualified or experienced,” said Rob De Prius, western director of consumer and industry relations with IBC.

 “So we are asking residents to be aware, do your research.”

Fly-by-night operators

The Ward 5 councillor said he is aware of some “fly-by-night” operations targeting vulnerable people such as those still waiting to have repairs done.

“It’s a challenging time with your home damaged but you need to take precautions,” said George Chahal.

Coun. George Chahal

“Ensure that they are a licensed contractor with the City of Calgary.”

He warns people to always ask contractors for their licences and proof of workers compensation, and report any concerns to the city.

Calgary 311 said it has received four complaints about Platinum Construction and Roofing which are still under investigation.

IBC expects to release a six-month update on the progress of June hailstorm claims in mid-December. Following its three-month update in mid-September, 40 per cent of claims remained unresolved.

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