Roofers vs Insurance Adjusters: The Real Battle


In the roofing industry there is an unspoken, and sometimes spoken (or screamed) animosity between the roofer and adjuster. The roofer claims he wants to help the client, while the adjuster vows the roofer just wants more money. Who’s right, who’s wrong? And is it really that simple?

The feud is deeper than just small business v mega corps. It becomes personal. It begs the question: “why is it so hard to see each other's point of view?” Well I hope to clear things up in this short bit, and give a solution that both parties will equally dislike. After all, that is the number one rule of compromise right?

What is a good scope of work? How do adjusters come up with a scope of work vs how a roofer comes up with a scope of work.

From the roofers point of view, they want to be able to price all of their work competitively, including insurance claims. For the A+ roofing contractor, their retail price would eliminate them from nearly all insurance work. The claims adjuster has his/her own objective: to indemnify justly, but on what basis?

First, we need to determine what this A+ Contractor looks like. This contractor has insurance, a physical location, employees, trained crews who they can trust, and are part of voluntary roofing associations. All things that are hard fought to attain and cost the contractor money. They are real businesspeople. Entrepreneurs. They have a dedication to doing it the right way. Which is expensive.

The 5 Characteristics of valuable contractors.

The adjuster, most of the time, has less experience actually completing the work they are proposing and they have bosses and protocol controlling how they estimate repairs. Insurance estimates are written line-item by line-item and the cost comes from a 3rd party software that fields prices from roofers in the area. This system appears to work at first glance, but if we dive a little deeper we see issues not just with insurance but with the roofing industry in general

The big issue is the barrier of entry into the roofing industry is shockingly low. There are no required licenses to be a contractor. Quite literally anyone can wake up and decide to be a roofer. Plumbers and electricians must have master certifications to do business, but not roofers. The idea that the trade protecting our most valuable asset (our homes) requires no test of capability, is jarring. Here lies the root of the problem which leads both good contractors and insurance adjusters to contention.

Scope of work is the field where the battle takes place, as a roofer cannot legally discuss “price” in an insurance claim. Roofing contractors are accused of “padding the claim” by expanding the scope of work to get the price closer to their retail estimate. The adjuster isn’t deliberately trying to underpay, that’s just how the system works. They are simply doing their job and creating a scope of work as they’ve been instructed based on the 3rd party estimating software. This 3rd party estimating software gets its pricing from averages across a region, preventing homeowners from accessing a high quality company unless they decide to pay extra out of pocket.

“Average” might equate to “good” in other industries, but not in roofing. In any given area maybe 10% of roofing contractors are capable of installing a technically sound roof. At Arrington Roofing, we do hundreds of repairs each year on roofs under 10 years old, and most of the time the issue is improper installation. The lack of skilled, trained labor in the roofing industry is staggering. The sub par contractor thrives and survives almost solely on insurance work. It is low hanging fruit. The A+ roofer tries to convince homeowners to spend a little more to work with them, but when all the products are the same, it’s difficult for contractors to compete with roofers who don’t have offices, employees, or any of the overhead the A+ Roofer has. The kicker is 80% of roofers go out of business in 2.5 years. So don’t count on that 10 year warranty from the roofer who opened up shop as soon as the storm came through.

Good contractors are in it for the long haul, many roofers are in it for the quick buck. The solution? Regulation. The roofing industry desperately needs a certification, or some barrier of entry. This weeds out the overnight roofing companies and ensures homeowners don’t have to sort through to find the diamond in the rough.

Chris Arrington recently went to D.C. to help lobby for some of these changes. And who is fighting these changes? You guessed it. Insurance companies. If roofing is regulated and held to a higher standard, prices will go up and insurance companies pay out more money in claims. This also affects the homeowner as premiums might rise. But the premium increase would most likely be offset by not having to repair a roof in year 5 that should have lasted 20.

The good news: Adjusters and A+ contractors can band together against a common enemy: cheap roofers. Until regulations are put in place, homeowners should be willing to come a little out of pocket to ensure a quality roof is installed on their home. The added up front cost may hurt, but not nearly as much as continually dumping $$ into a roof that was never installed correctly to begin with.

Share To: