Very few in the industry like a flat roof. Because water doesn’t run off of a flat roof surface, the water finds a way to a break resulting in a mess. Some say “there are three certainties in life – death, taxes, and flat roof leaks.”
Flat roofs are often denied simply based on a rushed inspection. Because of the nature of the surface itself, the inspection is often focused only on what is visible and not enough time is taken to properly examine what is below the surface. Flat roofs or low-slope roofs are commonly found on commercial buildings and are defined as having a slope that rises less than 3” per linear foot.
So, what is the proper way to inspect and evaluate a flat roof?
First of all, don’t rely on your insurance company for this. It is important that you hire someone who specializes in this type of roof who can provide a specialized report that will identify and map out the surface damage as well as the underlying damage. Essentially, the report should read like a well photographed document, including storm data, surface damage, and underlying damage (which all substantiate the recommended repairs). A good report is technical, but easy to navigate, and paints a picture of what happened and the extent of damages. Some of the tools the experts use to document a flat roof include: thermal roof scans that shows water below the surface, lab testing of roof samples, manufacturer’s report, and building code documents.
Why is it important to understand the full extent of the damage?
Because flat roofs typically have layers and are insulated, it is important to know if there are damages which could allow water to penetrate and/or become trapped inside the roof system. Just a small amount of water trapped under the roof can lead to all types of problems.
Who do I hire?
Being proactive at the start of your claim would include consulting with a public adjuster. They work on a contingency fee and usually will conduct a free inspection and offer an opinion at no cost or risk to you. If you then choose to hire a public adjuster to manage and pursue the claim, they will generate their own report and possibly consult other experts where there are gaps. You only pay if they are successful in recovering on the claim. If your claim is already under way, you may prefer to consult with a specialized attorney, expert, or possibly an appraiser who specializes in property claims.
Ignorance is not bliss. So reach out to someone who is experienced in evaluating flat roofs and evaluating and negotiating this type of insurance claim.
— by Roy Young, PA