Roof inspections are simply inspections that determine the intergrity of a roof, how long it may last, and when it will need to be replaced. Roof inspectors are not going to climb up on your roof or the roof of a home you are thinking of buying and pull up shingles or tiles. Roof inspectors have special procedures wherein they can determine the lifespan of a given roof without tearing into it. At first glance it might seem that roofing inspectors would have to pull up part of the roof to do a thorough examination, but if you consider your own roof, you would not want anyone tearing holes in it just to see if it was in good shape.
Roof inspectors also have super-technical techniques like infrared roof inspections where they don't even have to touch the surface of the roof itself to determine a roof's integrity. This process uses infrared rays to locate parts of a roof that are at higher or lower temperatures than the rest of the roof. These "hot spots" can show a roof inspector just exactly where heat is escaping.
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Because replacing a roof can be quite an investment, insurance companies and lenders require that this has been checked off. It makes sense for these companies to protect their investments, but you as the homeowner should want this to be secured as well. You don't want to be stuck with a bill that you weren't expecting, and you also don't want to sell a home to a family and put them in the same spot.