As I was saying ...

It's that (dreaded) renewal time

About half of NRCA members are preparing to renew their insurance policies this month—a task most face with the same amount of glee as, say, doing punch-list work for the average general contractor.

For a typical roofing contractor, insurance is the third-largest item in the operating budget—right behind labor and materials. According to NRCA financial management surveys, insurance of all kinds accounts for an average of 7 percent of a roofing contractor's total expenses. (By comparison, NRCA's insurance costs account for about 8/10 of 1 percent of its budget.)

Unfortunately, many NRCA members will have trouble getting a quote this year, especially if they do business in New York or California, do a lot of residential work or have a history of losses. And being in the roofing contracting business without insurance is like going to a nude beach without sunscreen: There are just too many bad things that can happen.

So roofing contractors must approach buying insurance the same way they expect building owners to buy a roof. That is to say, value matters. The lowest-priced commodity product isn't always the best. The history and reputation of the company being considered are important. And an insurance purchase should be part of a long-term relationship rather than a one-time deal.

The quality of the product matters, too. Following are a few issues to consider before making a final insurance decision:

  • What kinds of claims-handling and loss-control programs does the insurance company have?
  • How well does the company understand the roofing contracting business?
  • Is there coverage for when a roofing contractor becomes a de facto designer?
  • Is there coverage for incidental handling of asbestos?
  • How does the insurance company treat the use of torches?
  • What are the restrictions on residential work?

One final thought: NRCA can help. We have lots of information about roofing contractor insurance, and we can help direct roofing contractors to knowledgeable brokers and agents.

Bill Good is NRCA's executive vice president.


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