By Gregg Walther
Independent Insurance Group, Inc & Board Member of the NTRCA
When a homeowner is hiring a roofing contractor, it’s important for them to understand liability insurance and what it means should something happen on their property while their roof is being repaired or re-roofed.
The Roofer’s Insurance
First, it’s important to know that the state of Texas does not have ANY requirements related to licensing, registration or insurance for roofing contractors. This means that a roofer is NOT required to carry ANY liability insurance by the state of Texas and can do business without it. So homeowners should not assume that a roofing contractor has liability insurance and should ask their roofer if 1) they carry it and 2) if so, to provide them with proof.
A legitimate roofing company with insurance won’t hesitate to show you a copy of their certificate of insurance. With this in hand, homeowners should call the insurance agency listed on the certificate to verify the insurance, what it covers (make sure it covers roofing work) and ensure that it’s still in effect. Insurance experts recommend that the certificate show liability insurance with a limit of at least $1,000,000 per occurrence.
Despite the fact that the state of Texas does not require roofing contractors to carry any kind of insurance, the best roofers do. The North Texas Roofing Contractors Association (NTRCA) requires each roofing contractor member to show proof of liability insurance and agree to maintain that insurance as a requirement to become a member. If you are working with a contractor that belongs to our association, the association recommends that you follow the same recommended steps above.
It's also recommend that you enter into a written contract with your roofer, which they should supply to you, so there is no question regarding the scope of the work they are to provide, the total cost of the work, and the terms of payment. Keep a final, executed copy of your contract. You should also obtain a business card from the salesman and ask whom should you contact if you have questions regarding work while it is being performed.
Do Not Contribute to a Claim
If a claim arises while a contractor is installing your roof, their insurance for coverage should respond as long as you did not contribute to the claim.
You might ask, “How could I contribute to a claim?” There are several ways this can happen but the most common involve:
a.Letting them use your tools (for example, lending them a ladder)
b.Trying to assist them while they are working, such as holding a ladder while one of them climbs it.
Insurance experts strongly recommend that you do not loan tools or assist in any way.
The Homeowner’s Insurance
There are many different insurance companies and policies, and there are unique details related to each policy that we cannot explain in an article, but we can tell you what to look for and what to ask your insurance agent if you need clarification. Our comments below are generalizations and do not replace the language of your insurance policy, which ultimately determines if a claim is covered or not.
Our remarks are based on the Insurance Services Office (ISO) form: HO 00 03 10 00. This is one of the most common forms in use. This identifying information is located on the bottom of each page of the 22 page form, in case you want to check your policy to see if it is the same.
Page 16, Section II – Liability Coverages provides liability insurance for “bodily Injury” or “property damage” (words in quotations in an insurance policy are defined terms and can be found starting on page 1 of this form.)
This is the section you would turn to for coverage if you have a claim made against you by someone that does not meet the definition of an “insured” under your policy. It provides liability coverage up to the limits you purchased and includes legal defense if you are sued for claims covered under the insurance policy.
Under this policy, “Insured”, as it applies to claims at your residence, refers to “You”, which is the name as it appears on your policy’s declaration page, and your spouse if they are also a resident of the same household. The definition also includes residents of your household who are your relatives, or other persons under the age of 21 that are in an insured’s care.
As long as the people working on your house do not fall into any of these “Insured” categories, your policy should respond to any claim made against you for the actions of anyone while working on your house.
If you are unable to verify this when you review your own policy, then we suggest calling your insurance agent and asking them the following questions:
1.I am having my roof repaired. If an accident happens on the property and I am sued, what are my limits, and am I covered for claims that may arise from contractors making repairs on my property?
2.Are there any endorsements on my policy that I need to know about that might restrict my coverage?
It’s always best to ask questions ahead of time, especially when making a big decision like who to use when you need roof repairs or need to replace your roof.
Gregg Walther is an agent with Independent Insurance Group, Inc. He has 15 years of industry experience and specializes in insurance for commercial contractors in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.