Lead Roof Insurance Issues

How to protect your money AND your roof:

Lead Roof Insurance IssuesLead roofing is incredibly expensive to insure. Why?

  • Theft & Vandalism: Lead roofing, flashing and detailing have become attractive to thieves - and replacement is costly and inconvenient. Metal theft is now the fastest growing crime in the UK.
  • Expense of Installation & Repair: There's no doubt lead is expensive to install and repair. Problems with moisture, ventilation, thermal movement and wind 'lift' are all-too-common signs that a lead roof has been installed by an under-experienced contractor a highly competent specialist roofer is required, for installation and repair. In these cases, rotting and cracking of substrates and timbers can become pernicious, creating even bigger problems and expense.
  • Insurance Cost: Lead roofs can be literally impossible to insure, especially where metalwork has been stolen repeatedly for scrap. Much of our roofing work is for churches for whom lead theft has become serious. Some have been refused insurance outright owing to metal theft risk; others have found they can no longer afford increasing insurance premiums and excess.
  • Environmental safety fears: Though roofing lead is generally stable, the poisonous nature of lead raises concerns that lead may leach from flashings/guttering etc into vegetable gardens and the wider environment, leading some to seek alternative roof materials.

How much does lead theft cost?

In just 4 years, between 2003 and 2007, specialist insurer Ecclesiastical saw metal roof claims soar from 10 claims totalling £20,000 to 7,000 claims costing around £23 million.

2009 saw the introduction by Ecclesiastical of cover limits for churches - £5,000 for replacement metal and £5,000 for subsequent damage costs (for example, water damage). This limit is sufficient to cover the average claim (which is usually a few thousand pounds) but it doesn't cover buildings that have had large amounts of leadwork removed or churches that have been targeted by lead thieves repeatedly.

In cases like these, metal roofs can become uninsurable. 

Preventing Lead Theft:

  • CCTV cameras, security, police support and the vigilance of local communities are all helpful in reducing this sort of crime. They do not mean lead theft will not happen, or that stolen leadwork can be retrieved but they may help to deter would-be lead thieves.
  • SmartWater is an anti-theft technology using coded liquid that can be applied to roofing materials to aid in the recovery of stolen leadwork, should a metal theft occur.
  • Theft Proof Roofing: The best solution may be to install a theft-proof roof. Liquid polymer roofing locks to the substrate making it impossible to remove, whilst the product itself is valueless to thieves. All this and you STILL get the malleability and look of lead!

Find out more:

Trade Roofer? Buy lead substitute flashing and accessories via our online polymer roofing shop

Want to discuss lead free roofing options?

To discuss using the liquid polymer system as a lead alternative, call us on 01970 610047 or email usWe originally trained as lead roofers so know our stuff. We respond to emails quickly and never pass on your details.