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Certificate of Insurance – What to Look For as a Homeowner

No other step is so important as the roofing contractor providing insurance when it comes time to perform work on your home. Your failure to ensure that coverage exists exposes you to the possibility of a lawsuit. Think about this for a moment. You have workers on the roof of your home and one of them falls and requires medical care. Who pays for that accident?

If your contractor isn’t carrying insurance at the time of the accident, the cost falls on you. Many home policies only cover $5,000 of medical care for accidents around the house. Do you really believe that the costs for medical care for somebody falling off your home is going to be less than $5,000?

How do you know if your roofing contractor has coverage? What do you look for to verify coverage?

The primary document every contractor should put forth without being asked is a Certificate of Insurance (commonly referred to as a COI). It looks like this:

This is a nationally recognized form called the ‘Accord’ presentation format. Here are the four critical parts to review:

Block 2 – The name of the insurance broker managing the contractor’s insurance. The agent is in Block 9.

Block 3 – The name of the roofing contractor. This should match the name of the contractor you want to engage and to whom you will make payment for services.

Block 5 – This reflects the actual coverage. As a homeowner, you want two critical pieces of insurance. One is general liability coverage, which is always marked with an ‘A’, is typically the first insurance presented. At the bottom of the page (commonly marked with a ‘C’) is Worker’s Compensation Insurance which covers injuries sustained when a worker falls off the roof or steps on a nail etc. 

Check that the policies are in force during the time the work will get done on your property; there are two columns reflecting effective date and date of termination. DO NOT LET YOUR ROOFING CONTRACTOR RENDER SERVICES IF THE INSURANCE HAS LAPSED!

All legitimate professionals will have insurance in place and the date range is always within the time frame of services. If the work is nearing the limits of the date range, professional contractors provide both the current Certificate of Insurance and the future coverage form which is typically provided about two weeks prior to lapsing of coverage. 

Many contractors include the auto policy coverage, property coverage (their equipment and tools) along with specialty coverage such as an umbrella policy or errors and omissions policy. 

Policy Limits – In block 5, at the far right-hand side are limits of coverage. Each state is different in what is required as a minimum level of coverage. And yes, many contractors try to keep costs low by selecting the bare minimum required level of coverage. As for general liability, their level of coverage should cover the cost to replace your home in case they cause a fire or water damage wrecks havoc on your home and belongings. Most contractors will have no less than $1,000,000 as coverage.

With worker’s compensation insurance, coverage should never be less than $500,000; but the best roofing contractors include $1,000,000 as the coverage per incident. Again, imagine a critical accident whereby one guy is falling and he grabs his fellow worker for stability and the two of them end up on the ground injured.

The National Roof Certification and Inspection Association advocates for policy limits of $1,000,000 for both general liability and worker’s compensation. If you want to get in contact with a member that serves your area, fill out the contact form here: Contact an NRCIA Roof Professional