When I first arrive at a home to do the inspection, I try to look around to get a feel of the condition of the home before I actually start the inspection. Several times I have observed roofs that were newer and appeared to be in very good shape, but upon a closer look there was obvious hail damage. Most of the time, except for in extreme cases, hail damage can not be seen from the ground. This is the very reason I try to always climb on the roof, even if I can on access a small portion of it. Some roofs can’t be accessed – they area too tall, too steep, etc.,
The fact is most roofs have some hail damage, hail storms are common in our area and generally occur every few years, but just because there is some signs of hail it does not mean that your roof necessarily needs replacing. Insurance companies have specific guideline about how much damage there has to be before a new roof is needed. As an inspector, I want my client to know if hail damage exist and if it does, I recommend calling a roofing contractor out to confirm before the insurance company is called.
Many inspectors do not climb on the roof to do their inspection. The fact is, It is not a requirement for home inspectors but I would be vary weary of an inspector that does not. Having to replace a roof is very expensive, hiring the right inspector can help prevent you from inheriting a roof that should have been replaced by the previous owner do to hail damage.