Palm Harbor man being investigated for soliciting homeowners, negotiating roof damage claims without license

The Florida Department of Financial Services is investigating a Palm Harbor man for allegedly soliciting homeowners and negotiating roof damage claims without a license. 

Trevor Smith, 27, is facing several charges in Manatee County, including unlicensed contracting during a state of emergency and exploitation of the elderly over $100,000. 

This week, Smith was also arrested on Hillsborough County charges, including acting as a public insurance adjuster without a license. 

READ: Florida's home insurance crisis: What state lawmakers could do to bring down rates

"During a declaration of a State of Emergency which resulted from Hurricane Ian, the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) received several complaints that Trevor Smith, an employee with Apex Roofing and Restoration LLC, was knocking on doors and soliciting homeowners in Hillsborough and Manatee County," the Florida Department of Financial Services said. 

According to Manatee County court records, Smith allegedly approached a Palmetto homeowner and offered a free inspection of her roof in May 2023 while a state of emergency post-Hurricane Ian was still in place.

Smith, an independent contractor with Apex Roofing and Restoration "went upon the roof of the home and indicated the inspection revealed significant damage to the tile roof that would require a complete replacement and her insurance company would pay for it," according to Manatee County court records.

However, the damage was exaggerated, according to the affidavit.

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"Smith would allegedly make the initial call to the insurance company and pretend to be the homeowner. During the phone calls, Trevor Smith would state there was damage to the roof when there was no inspection of the roof. Smith allegedly met with insurance adjusters and attempted to negotiate the claim without a license," the Florida Department of Financial Services said.

Here’s how this typically works: Contractors file false insurance claims based on exaggerated damage. And when insurance companies refuse to pay, the contractors sue, which results in expensive lawsuits. It’s why insurance companies have left Florida or decided to raise rates for homeowners

State lawmakers have reduced costs for insurance companies by making it harder to sue insurance companies in the hope they would pass their savings onto homeowners. However, some lawmakers and consumer groups said Governor Ron DeSantis and legislative leaders have overstated the impact lawsuits have on our insurance rates. 

"We require all of our independent contractors, staff, partners and suppliers to adhere to all state and federal laws, as well as uphold our company’s unparalleled standards for top-quality service and expertise in our industry," a spokesperson for Apex Roofing & Restoration said in a statement. "While we do not currently have knowledge of wrongdoing by this independent contractor, we are reviewing the reported allegations, and we will, of course, cooperate with authorities to ensure everyone is treated fairly and in compliance with the law."

"On behalf of my client, I would like to categorically deny all the criminal charges brought against him in this case," Simon Wiseman, Smith’s attorney, told FOX 13. "I am confident when the truth is revealed he will be exonerated." 


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