Roofer Licenses and Insurance

Before you hire a roofer to do any work on your roof, it is essential that you know they are insured and licensed if necessary.  In this Roofing Tutor guide we take a look at what these terms mean and how they protect you as the homeowner.

Roofers License

States vary widely in their requirements about roofer licenses.  While laws change each year, currently about have the states require a roofer to have a state-issued license to do roofing work. It may be a roofing contractors license, a general contractors license, a builders/remodelers license or something equivalent to one of these.

Some states require no license for roofers whatsoever.  Anyone can do roofing, at least from a licensing point of view.  In the other states, licensing for roofers is administered at the local level.  If you have any questions about the licensing requirement for builders in your area, call your local building department and they will tell you exactly what a roofer needs to be in compliance with state and local codes.

Roofers Insurance

Insurance is a very different matter than licensing.  Any roofer you consider for your work should carry two types of insurance, worker’s compensation and liability insurance.  Let’s take a look at what these are and how they protect you.

Workers Compensation Insurance: This type of insurance is paid by employers for each of their employees.  It’s purpose is to supply an employee with a portion of their wages if they get hurt in the conduct of their duties. Every company with employees is required to have worker’s compensation insurance on each one of them. Employers who hire and pay employees “under the table” don’t have this coverage.  They don’t want the extra expense.  It leaves their employees in a vulnerable position and also opens them up to civil and legal ramifications.

Liability Insurance: This type of insurance covers the contractor for accidents on the job that he or she could be considered liable for.  For example, if the roofing company is using a boom to load roofing materials onto your roof and a pallet of tiles comes loose, falling on top of your car, liability insurance will pay the damages rather than you having to make a claim to your insurance company.  In more serious circumstances, if a worker falls off your roof and is severely injured because appropriate safety equipment was not provided by the contractor, the liability coverage would be in place to cover any damages the worker was awarded in a lawsuit against the contractor.

Workers compensation and liability insurances protect you as the homeowner.  It is rare for an injured worker to name the homeowner in a lawsuit when the employer has proper insurance.  When the employer is uninsured, it is common for the homeowner to be named in a lawsuit.  Even if you aren’t ultimately held liable, legal fees can be very expensive.  In the case of the damaged automobile, if the contractor is not insured, you’ll have to go to your insurance company to cover it.  Even if such occurrences are covered in your policy, you may have to pay a deductible and filing a claim may cause your rates to climb by as much as 75%.

Effect of Insurance on Cost

The fact is, workers compensation and liability insurance is expensive.  Contractors that choose not to be insured have less overhead.  Many of them pay lower wages too.  This allows them to provide lower bids.  Hiring a fully insured contractor may cost 10%-15% more, but you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you are covered by their insurance policies.

Insist on Documentation

As part of providing written estimates, ask each contractor to supply you with a copy of their roofer license if necessary as well as documentation of their insurance coverage.  Before you sign a contract with a contractor, you may want to call the state workers compensation office and contractor’s liability insurance provider and make sure the coverages are up to date and in effect.


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