Written by Andy Gurczak

July 7, 2021

Insurance Inspection: What To Expect

How to Prepare for a Home Insurance Inspection

Initially, you might consider your insurance policy application pretty comprehensive of the needs of your home. After all, who knows your home better than you do? However, insurance providers will likely want to get to know your home on a more personal level before approving coverage. For this reason, you will likely have to undergo a home insurance inspection so that your providers know what they are covering.

The insurance company performs a home insurance inspection in order to calculate the home’s replacement cost. They also assess risks to determine the likelihood that you’ll need to file a claim for damages and estimate premium costs. A home inspection is much more common when buying an older house, as well as when buying property in disaster prone areas. People often have the home purchase price in mind when buying insurance, but that value is not adequate. Home insurance is also useful for keeping your insurance premiums up to date. Identifying any risks to your home, any unseen damages or value depreciation.

A home insurance inspection can identify potential safety issues, find discounts, and make sure that you take out the correct amount of insurance. Home inspectors will check ways to increase safety, how your home is constructed, its size, any specialty materials, and the utility systems. Provide your inspector with information on the square footage, renovations, security systems, and any updates to things like plumbing or the roof.

Insurance Inspectors

What to Expect of an Insurance Inspection

Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or you’re looking to give your insurance provider a quick refresher on your home’s condition, an insurance inspection is always a good idea. So what should you expect during a home insurance inspection?

  • First, your insurance company will likely schedule it within 30 to 90 days of your policy application.
  • The inspection process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.
  • During which your insurance inspector will look for any potential risks that weren’t clearly listed on your application.
  • They’ll also adjust your policy if the estimated replacement cost is inaccurate or they believe you don’t have enough coverage.

What Will the Insurance Inspectors Look For?

Home insurance inspectors will look for three basic things when they inspect your home:

  1. First, they will look for any opportunities to increase security or safety. For example, they can look for potential fire hazards or liability risks. In fact, they could even take into consideration if your home is full of unusual amounts of clutter or exhibits signs of old water damage.
  2. Second, they will take measurements of the structure, look for special features, and check the quality of materials used in the construction of your home.
  3. Third, they will check if there have been updates to the electrical system, plumbing, heating, windows, and roof. Everything should be well maintained.

What to Expect After the Insurance Inspection

After the inspection is concluded, all observations and data are put together into an extensive report. This report will likely include checklists, summaries, notes, and photographs of your home. It might also contain various recommendations for replacements and repairs, if any are necessary. There is no such thing as a surprise insurance inspection. So if you’ve prepared correctly, you’re pretty much aware of what might be inside this document.

The report goes out to the insurance company, where it’s put up for review. The insurance company can’t make you fix issues, so you can only pass or fail your insurance inspection. If everything goes well with your homeowners’ insurance inspection, you will be granted a new policy on desirable terms, or your current one will simply remain in effect.

If issues are found, your insurer will notify you and explain how to fix the problem in whatever time-frame they establish. Once you fix the issue, you should send all the receipts and photos that show that you have followed through with their suggestions and that you are in compliance with all the requirements of the policy. If you fail to fix the issues by the set deadline or you fail to provide proof that you’re in the process of doing so, then you will not be given a policy. In case you’re already insured, you will receive a cancellation notice.

How to Prepare for the Insurance Inspection

It is important to be prepared in advance of the inspection. The following are a few things to have handy:

  • Documentation that shows the square footage of your home
  • Costs for renovations or interior design work
  • Information about your alarm system, water sensors, and water damage prevention devices.
  • List of the updates to your plumbing, heating, electrical system, windows, and roof

Make sure that your house is tidy. Take the time to look at your living environment and think about fire hazards and accident prevention. It is also a good idea to go through and repair any issues that may catch an inspector’s eye. Here’s a quick list of things to be on the lookout for depending on the type of inspection you have scheduled:

  • Buy a fire extinguisher
  • Check smoke detectors and replace batteries if necessary
  • Clean out the fireplace
  • Seal leaks in your attic or basement
  • Unclog backed-up drains
  • Empty dryer vent
  • Clear out exits and pathways

Different Kinds of Insurance Inspections

Insurance Inspection Exterior Inspections

Exterior Insurance Inspection

Essentially, exterior inspection starts with the measurement of the dimensions of the property. This is to confirm tax information is correct. They will look over the outside of the home, enquire about the roof’s age, and inspect the downspouts and gutters to make sure that everything is in perfect order. They might even ask whether there’s a dog and verify it’s dwelling.
Give the exterior walls of your home, any additional structures and your yard a once over to make sure you get the best rate possible:

  • Clear gutters of any debris
  • Clean your fireplace flue and check it for cracks or loose bricks
  • Get HVAC and plumbing systems serviced
  • Remove any standing water
  • Seal and paint any cracks
  • Fumigate
  • Trim overhanging tree limbs
  • Check your roof for any loose or missing shingles.
  • Verify the foundation for cracks or other signs of weakening.
  • Look for any injury hazards, such as an uneven sidewalk
  • Remember to inspect any additional structures such as sheds, fences or detached garages
  • Inspect driveways, walkways, and patios. As well as balconies, porches, steps, and railings
  • Check any exterior doors, eaves, soffits, and facias

Inspection Interiors

Interior Insurance Inspection

If the home is relatively new, you might just get a pass on this one. However, if the inspector does step foot through the door, know that they will most likely head for the attic first to check how the roof sheathing is holding up, and to spot any potential ventilation and moisture problems.

The following are some of the things to look out for before an interior inspection:

  • Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re working properly.
  • Make sure your home’s fire extinguisher is working correctly.
  • Clean out your fireplace.
  • Check windows and doors to look for leaks or signs of termite damage.
  • Look in the attic and basement for signs of any water or pest damage.
  • Consider cleaning your HVAC system, as well as testing it.
  • Look under sinks and around faucets, showerheads, and toilets for signs of leaks.
  • Inspect the walls and floors for cracks or bowing
  • Make sure electrical garage doors are working properly
  • Check cabinets, kitchen appliances, stoves and fireplaces to ensure they aren’t damaged
  • Inspect ductwork, plumbing and electrical systems
  • Lastly, but probably one of the most crucial, check for any foundation issues.

Insurance Inspection Wind Mitigation

Wind Mitigation Inspection

This part is an analysis of the property’s weather-withstanding features. This assessment informs the insurance company of the general sturdiness of a home in case of strong winds, thunderstorm, or hurricanes. The features examined here can range from roofs to doors and window coverings.

Insurance Inspection 4 point inspection

4-Point Inspection

This type of inspection is often unavoidable for homes over 40 years old. In short, it focuses on the biggest areas for concern. Namely, they will mostly spend their time on four aspects of the home: the roofing, the plumbing, the HVAC, and the electrical system.

The Cost of Insurance Inspections

The average price of a home inspection falls somewhere in the range of $300 to $500. However, this rough estimate does not factor in many criteria that will influence the cost, such as age, size, location, and so on.

Another part of the cost of the inspection is the inspector itself. If they’re well-established and have knowledge and experience in the construction industry, then their fee might be as high as $1000. However, the great majority of them charge about $450 for a 2,000 square-foot home. Whereas, it’s just around $100 less for a two-bedroom condo. In fact, some of them will even throw in an additional fee if they have to crawl under the home or enter a crawlspace.

Most insurance companies do not have in-house inspectors. For this reason, they seek out third-party companies that specialize in home inspections, and not just for insurance but for all kinds of different goals.

Benefits of a Home Insurance Inspection

  • First, it can help identify potential risks that could cause safety issues or losses. This way, you can address them and avoid claims.
  • Second, it can help identify different areas where you would be eligible for discounts on your home insurance policy.
  • And third, it can help make sure that the insured dwelling value is not too high or too low.

Can I Get Home Insurance Without an Insurance Inspection?

Yes, you can get a home insurance policy without getting a home inspection. While inspections are pretty common, if your home is brand new, has had an inspection recently or if you’re in a low-risk location, your insurance provider won’t always require it.

Though this isn’t a hard and fast rule, as some home insurance companies require an inspection no matter what. If they require an inspection, they’ll likely send someone they have worked with before. You’re more than welcome to get a second opinion, though you’d be on the hook for paying for the extra inspector.

Why Some Homeowners Could Fail Home Insurance Inspections

As previously mentioned, there could be a million reasons why someone would fail their inspection.

These are the common causes people fail:

  • no central heating and air ventilation system
  • aluminum wiring
  • damaged roof
  • a water heater that’s over 20 years old
  • polybutylene plumbing

What to Do if You’re Denied for Insurance Inspection

In a scenario where you fail your inspection and get your insurance denied, there are few things you can do. First, you could make any necessary repairs the insurance company requests as a condition of getting covered. Secondly, if that is not enough, you can look for coverage through a company that specializes in high-risk properties. Third, you could get your home covered under Fair Access Insurance Plans. FAIR plans are state-run programs that offer insurance for high-risk properties or help homeowners find coverage. However, that not every state offers a FAIR plan.

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