Industry News

Many policyholders are unaware that a flat felt roof is deemed to be non-standard.

Non-Standard Construction: Flat or Felt Roof Conditions

July 2021

Many policyholders are unaware that a flat felt roof is deemed to be non-standard construction by insurers, and need to be specifically declared (even where the insurer doesn’t specifically ask), no matter how small relative to the total roof area.

Insurers are generally more concerned with flat roofs compared to standard slate or tile roofs as they offer less protection against storm, cold and extreme weather. A flat roof in the UK, with its high levels of rainfall and occasional strong winds, will tend to collect water and other debris on its surface, rather than it sliding off. This means that a flat roof surface is more likely to deteriorate quicker, need regular maintenance and they have a higher risk of leaks due to water ponding which can lead to water ingress, storm damage and possible access for burglars. All of these features mean there is a higher chance of you making a claim on your building’s insurance.

A large number of insurance policies have a requirement that a flat or felt roof should be inspected regularly, with some insurers specifying the frequency, such as bi-annually or annually, whilst some stipulate the type of person which must undertake the inspection, often a roofing contractor or other competent person. Others only require the inspections to be undertaken once the felt roof is of a set age, typically over 10 years. Nevertheless, all of these clauses require any defects or repairs are carried out without delay. A few insurers do not apply the condition where the portion of the flat roof is small relative to the total roof size, for instance less than 20%.

It is imperative you check your policy carefully, as such conditions are not typically detailed on the policy schedule but are rather regularly buried deep within the policy wording. At Daines Kapp we always highlight to you where such conditions apply. You should also ensure that any recommendations resulting from the inspection are actioned and records kept as evidence of compliance with the condition. Failure to comply with this condition could leave you without any insurance protection in the event of a claim.

Consideration should also be given to other more modern flat roof alternatives. EPMD rubber and fibreglass roofs are nowadays often preferred to their felt predecessors due to their increased durability. That said, insurers also typically deem these to be “non-standard” construction (as they do any roof material which is not slate, tile or concrete), therefore ought to be declared prior to inception in order to determine whether any conditions will apply.