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Roof Inspections Important

By Steve Vacha

During inspection walk-throughs one of the biggest questions buyers have is “what is the condition of the roof?”  Home insurance companies are starting to focus more and more on that the same question.

10 years ago most insurance companies would insure composition and wood shake roofs without a lot of questions.   If the roof looked in decent condition from the ground chances are it would be insured.

In the last several years, insurance companies have tightened their qualifications for which roofs they will insure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis has become a problem for some home buyers who find out at the wrong time that the roof is not insurable.

On a recent prelisting-inspection a wood shake roof needed repairs at isolated areas due to wear and wind damage.  I recommended further evaluation and repair as needed by a qualified roofer.   In my mind this roof had a lot of life left to it, if it was repaired properly.  The seller had a handyman repair the roof instead of a qualified roofer.   The seller then sold the house to a friend who did not get their own home inspection.  When the new buyer went to get insurance, the insurance company informed the buyer the roof was too worn and old and could not be insured.

The buyer then tried other insurance companies, but found that other companies where denying coverage based on information entered into a database from the first insurance company’s evaluation. Ever since this experience we have been making the following suggestions when we see a roof that has even minor hail damage or moderate aging and wear.

For possible hail or weather damage:

Have the seller contact their insurance company to send out an adjuster to see if there is damage that would call for a claim.

For worn and older roofs:

Have the buyer’s insurance agent view the roof to verify they would insure it before they purchase the home.

The insurance companies are in control here and they are the ones who have recently tightened the requirements for what roof is insurable.   Home inspectors and roofers can make evaluations, but the insurance company is the one who makes the final decision.


We are a locally owned home inspection company serving the metro areas of Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska.