Has your insurance provider suddenly announced an inspection? The inspection helps insurance companies reaffirm that your policy is adequate and if they discover nothing unusual, the policy will remain active. However, the policy might be canceled or your coverage lowered if the inspector deems that your home replacement cost is too high. The reverse can happen as well – if the replacement cost is low, the premium rates might be lowered. The insurance agency sends out inspectors to determine if the home value is appropriate for the level of coverage their clients use up. The inspections can take an hour up to a few hours, depending on the size of the home and all the checks the agents have to carry out.
So, in home insurance inspection what do they check? The agents check the electric systems, plumbing, HVAC, chimney, roof, water damage, pests, and paint. This gives them an idea about the condition of the home and the replacement cost.
Most insurers are aware of the issues on your property because they make you tell them in advance, but the inspectors can discover further issues that you weren’t aware of. Inspectors might be sent after your policy expires for routine maintenance, but every check should be taken seriously. The inspector might identify issues in your electrical system or plumbing which you have to repair on your own. Usually, they issue a deadline until you’re allowed to repair the damage, or the insurance company threatens to cancel your policy. If you get it repaired during that time, the policy remains active. If you fail to fix the issues identified by the agent, your insurance policy could be voided.
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Top 8 Things Home Insurance Agents Check
If you’re a new homeowner, you might want to pay for an inspection before you even get an insurance plan. You can pay inspectors a few hundred dollars for a full inspection which inspects your entire house to make sure you won’t have to make any repairs. The inspection lasts 2-3 hours on average and each part of the house is thoroughly examined.
If the agents determine something is wrong, you’ll be notified and you can hire experts who can resolve those issues for you. This way you’ll never be worried about agents the insurance company sends as you’ve carried out your own inspection in advance. The following are the top 8 things the insurance agent looks for:
1. Electric Infrastructure
The agents will start examining the wires and checking out if you have any old, rusty wires. If the wires are fried they will ask you to replace them. This is common in old houses that don’t comply with current electric safety codes.
2. Plumbing Infrastructure
You have a whole plumbing system under your house such as the septic system and the pipes. If you have any drainage problems and/or problems with the water pressure, the examiner will find out and tell you.
3. Roof Shingles
The examiner might climb on top of your roof and analyze all the shingles and support structures. If you have any missing shingles they will ask you to repair them. The weather in your state will have an impact on this too. In cold states, the examiner might ask you to upgrades your roof to withstand the weight of snow. In warm states with wildfires, he might ask to purchase asphalt shingles to make the roof fire-resistant.
Is the chimney system up to par or are there cracks in the bricks? Can moisture enter the house? The examiner will find out.
5. HVAC System
Is your air conditioning working properly and will you need to do cleaning/maintenance work on it?
Are there any rats, roaches or other termites festering in your house? If you have a rodent infestation, you might be asked to hire an extermination team to help you get rid of the rodents.
7. Water Damage
Are you noticing signs of molding and cracks anywhere in your house? Does the roof suffer heavy damage after it starts raining a bit? Do you have cracks at the foundation which leave the floors damn?
The US government banned lead-based paint in the 80s, but still… many houses were built before the 80s. If you have an older house you might be required to re-paint the house up to new standards.
Are Home Inspections Mandatory For Insurance?
Yes and no. The inspection requirement will vary based on the home. If you have a brand new home you usually won’t be required to get an inspection because the insurer assumes your home is up to the latest standards. For older homes, you can bypass an inspection if you’ve had a previous inspection conducted within the last 10 years. However, if you live in a slightly older home without any recent inspections your home will be subject to an inspection. The home insurance company is taking on a risk every time they take on a new client, and they require inspections to determine your home is up to the latest standards.
Mortgage lenders recommend new home buyers schedule an inspection before they buy a property. The inspection lasts 2-3 hours and costs a few hundred dollars – so what do you have to lose? It can reveal structural damage and potential risks that would cost you thousands of dollars to fix if you didn’t find out during the inspection. However, you’re not required to get an inspection and there are no laws mandating inspections for new home buyers.
If you’re selling a home, getting an appraisal is similar to getting an inspection. The expert in charge of your appraisal will take into account all the same variables that a home insurance agent would because they’re both trying to estimate the value of a property based on the current state.
Benefits Of Inspections
There are numerous benefits to home insurance inspections. Don’t be afraid of home inspections as this could be an opportunity to lower your premium costs:
- Safety. Your home could become safer if the agent discovered potential electric damage or structural damage that you weren’t aware of. Their job is to save money for the insurance company but they’re also there to help you out and improve your home. They’ll identify all potential risks and safety concerns, which are essential if you have children at home.
- Discounts. The agent might discover you’re over-insured and give you a discount on your premium. They can also tell you if you’re eligible for discounts which you weren’t aware of.
- Money-Saver. If everything matches up you’ll know for sure whether your insurance value is too high or too low. This helps you save money in the long term because you’re not wasting months paying higher premiums when you could’ve paid less.
Documents To Prepare
The following are the most important documents you’ll have to present to your home insurance agent:
- Property Documents. Prepare all documents related to the property such as the square footage or any floor plans you have.
- Renovation Documents. If you’ve carried out recent renovations such as replaced the floors or painted the exterior, present those documents to the agent.
- Smart Home Documents. If you recently installed an alarm system or security camera or if you’ve installed water/fire sensors, this could make you eligible for discounts. You want to present those features to the inspector.
- Clean Your House. To make a good impression for the inspector, make sure you clean your house thoroughly before they arrive. Remove the clutter and the garbage and make sure they can easily navigate the house. The inspector will be looking for potential fire hazards and things that could cause accidents in the home. If you have signs of molding, water damage or your home is dirty this can leave a negative impression on the agent.