The Impact of FM Global Insurance on Your Roofing Project

August 22, 2019

Your roof needs replaced. Your insurance provider is FM Global. Here’s what that means.

FM Global is a commercial and industrial property insurance company that, according to its website, is guided by the belief that most losses can be prevented. “FM Global is influencing our industry tremendously by codifying or standardizing roof designs, mandating safer, fire-, and wind-rated roofs. The industry needed that,” explains Jack Kenney, Vice President National Account Manager, D. C. Taylor Co., Cedar Rapids, IA.

They’re doing that through third-party testing and certification by FM Approvals, the insurance company’s independent testing division. FM Approvals tests commercial and industrial building products and services to ensure they meet strict loss prevention standards.

They’ve been doing scientific research and testing for more than 100 years. Fire protection equipment, electrical equipment, and building materials that are tested and certified receive the FM Approved mark.

FM Approvals & RoofNav

FM Approvals helps property owners avoid losses by testing, certifying, and approving roofing materials. Each individual item needs to be approved and approved again as part of an assembly.

FM Approvals performs the following types of tests on roof assemblies:

FM Approval standards aren’t just looking at components’ and systems’ performance, technical integrity, and quality, they also take into consideration sustainable building practices, like vegetative and cool roofs, as well as the integration of photovoltaics and daylighting.

FM Approved roof assemblies will be required by building owners with FM Global insurance coverage. Certified roofing products and assemblies are all documented in RoofNav. A RoofNav number designates a specific roof assembly that has been tested. FM Approvals provides this web-based tool for roofing professionals to find the assembly they want to install. This makes it easier for designers, architects, and contractors to specify and install FM Approved roofing systems and comply with FM Global insurance requirements. All the information (e.g. ratings calculator, installation recommendations, etc.) is located in one place.

Impacts on Your Project

Facilities insured by FM Global, can expect the planning phase of their roofing project to take longer. After the assembly is selected, forms need to be completed and sent to your FM Global reviewer. They send back the plan review and either approve, accept, ask for more information, or reject the submitted RoofNav assembly number. The plan review then becomes part of the project plan and the roofing contractor can order roofing materials. “We can start a basic project in a couple weeks. If you need an FM review, it could add two to three weeks to a project plan,” adds Jon Reiss, Vice President Procurement & Logistics, D. C. Taylor Co., Cedar Rapids, IA.

While the size of the project remains the same, material costs for a roofing project at an FM Global-insured facility may be higher. For example, the assembly method might dictate more fasteners and increase labor.

Installation methods are also dictated – not just materials. FM Approved materials must be installed in the exact same method that they were tested. Sometimes the FM Global Agent comes to the jobsite to verify that the contractor is using the materials noted on the plan review and installing them as specified.

A Rise in FM Approved Projects

More facilities are insured by FM Global than in the past – it’s not just coastal facilities any more.  “It used to be mostly facilities in coastal areas that had FM Global insurance – places where there were wind events like hurricanes but now it’s more widespread,” says Reiss. “Very Severe Hail ratings now have more widespread applicability.” FM Global expanded their map coverage, designating more areas of the country that require their roofs to meet a Very Severe Hail (VSH) versus a Severe Hail (SH) rating, as was acceptable prior to 2018. D. C. Taylor Co. estimates that between 10 and 20 percent of its customers are insured by FM Global. Bigger jobs and national companies tend to have the requirement.

Customers are also mandating FM Approved materials, even if they’re not insured by FM Global. “A lot of insurance companies piggyback on FM Global testing and code. They want their new roof installation to follow FM Global requirements,” says Kenney. “Even if they’re represented by other loss control entities.”