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Solar Panels: Residential Risks and What You Need to Know

February 7th, 2018

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Over a million homes in the U.S. use Solar Panels, with California leading the nation as a top solar state, boasting more solar jobs and megawatts of solar capacity installations. In fact, according to reports, in the last two years, the solar workplace grew almost 20 times faster than the overall US economy.

Solar Panel Installation is Booming

While solar, or photovoltaic, systems are booming, there are certain risks and precautions to consider before installing solar panels on your roof so as not to damage property, ruin waterproofing, and void warranties or thermal performance.

Choosing a reputable installer with roofing knowledge is an important first step as installation of solar panels is not as simple as just placement. Roof penetration, environmental/weather, load, drainage, and electrical currents must be considered.

Roof penetration: If not installed correctly, leakage can occur. A leaky roof could cause a myriad of other issues such as mold, rotting, and structure damage/collapse.

Blockage: Panels should be installed so as to not block roof drains.

Load: Roofs are designed to allow a pre-determined load. If the load is more than the roof can bear, structure damage/collapse may occur.

Wind: Adding solar panels to a roof increases the surface area, and the possibility of wind damage. The space between the roof and panels is also susceptible to increased pressurization in a wind event.

Weather: Rain and snow can add weight to panels, affecting roofing load. Ice and hail may crack protective coating.

Fire: A fire around solar panels carries the risk of heat being trapped in the space between the roof and the panel, making it difficult to extinguish, increasing the risk of extensive damage.

Electrical: Many of the risks listed above could also cause electrical damage/exposure.

Additionally, prior to installing solar panels, attention should be paid to your roof warranty, as solar panel installation could potentially void a warranty. Be sure to coordinate with both your roofer and installer, to understand the impact.

Insuring Solar Panels

Residential solar panels are typically covered under standard homeowners’ policies against risks such as fire, weather damage, and theft but some variables may apply.

Some HOAs may have additional restrictions/requirements so be sure to ascertain what those are prior to installation, to remain compliant and up to code.

Before adding solar panels to your home, work with your qualified insurance broker to verify what your policy covers, including how the panels will be mounted (roof-mounted vs ground-mounted), and if your policy offers enough coverage for all risks.

Our Brown & Brown Insurance Advisors offers complimentary policy reviews and are available to discuss all your insurance needs from personal to commercial.

Contact us today, to get started.

Camilo Sharpe

Vice President - Commercial Lines

With an extensive background in multiple facets of the insurance trade, Camilo ensures his client's risk costs are managed effectively and affordably. His industry focus is Roofing, as well as Construction, Manufacturing, Food & Beverage, and Non-Profit/Social Service Organizations.


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