Homeowners Insurance Inspections: What to Expect
It is important that your homeowners insurance policy accurately reflects the current conditions and value of your home. After all, finding out the amount of coverage you purchased will not be enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your home is a catastrophe all by itself. Having your home inspected by a stranger can be a nerve-wracking experience, but knowing what to expect during the process can help alleviate some anxiety. If you have a home inspection scheduled, here is what you can expect to happen.
How it Works
An insurance inspector will come visit your home. The amount of time they'll be with you depends on the size of your property, but typically lasts between half an hour, to up to two hours. You can expect your insurance company to either email you or call you to determine the date and window of time that an agent may arrive - no insurance agent should arrive at your door unexpectedly.
When you know the date of your inspection, try to make sure the house is clean and organized before then. If you recently emptied your storage facility into your living room, try to have everything neatly cleaned and put in its place before the inspector arrives.
They may take photos of your property. If all they are taking is photos of the external area of your home, you won't necessarily need to be there during the process. However, if they have to go inside, you'll need to be there to let them in.
During the inspection, they will look for several things. They will look for risks, such as potential fire hazards or personal liability risks, such as raised porches or decks that have no guard rails. It may seem silly, but you have to keep your property safe even for someone who may break in. If you work as a contractor and typically leave ladders, tools, or other dangerous equipment lying around your home, this can be seen as a liability risk. Your insurance inspector may take note of this. As they walk around, they will also take note of any mold or signs of water damage. You should take note of what they notice, because you can take steps to repair or address the specific issues they find.
They will also want to look at the current state of the home and the overall condition of the property. If you have an older home, they may do a full interior and exterior inspection. They will look at the home's electrical and plumbing systems to check the age and condition. They may also inspect the home's HVAC system. They will look to see if remodeling or repairs have been done to the home's original windows and roof, and will take note of its current level of maintenance. They may also check for special architectural features within the interior of the home, such as custom doors, fixtures, knobs, and trim, as these things may cause the replacement value to change if they were not included in the original estimates of the home's rebuilding cost. Along the exterior of the home, they will check the yard, gutters, state of the roof, and siding, checking its condition and how well it is maintained.
To prepare for your home inspection, try to gather information about your home in advance. Put together a folder that includes blueprints of your home or information about square footage and room sizes. Provide details about any renovations you've done or plan to complete. You could even go above and beyond and have a professional plumber inspect the pipes in your home, so you have a detailed report to provide to the inspector. Make note of where your risk prevention systems are, including burglar alarms, motion detectors, water sensors, fire extinguishers, etc. Provide a list of any updates that have been made to the home's plumbing, electrical systems, heating and air conditioning systems, windows, and roof.
While it can be tempting to ask the inspector questions about your insurance policy, they may not have the answers you seek. Some insurance inspectors are third-party contractors that the company has hired to complete the inspection process, and as such, they may not have any specific knowledge about the company. They are there to do a job, and that job is to inspect your home and report back to the insurance provider.
What to Expect When it's Over
Once the home inspector is finished inspecting the home, you will likely receive some recommendations from your insurance company, including ways to lower your risk and premiums. For example, if you do not have a burglar alarm system, they may advise you to install one as soon as possible. For certain recommendations, such as major repairs to avoid damage, neglecting to complete those recommended repairs can result in your insurance being denied or cancelled outright. Talk to your representative about their recommendations.
If you believe their recommendations are unreasonable or unfair, talk to your agent and try to negotiate. While they can't force you to make changes to your own home, they can cancel your policy. Keep in mind that it is entirely possible that a home inspection leads to no recommendations by the insurance company, and that there will be no changes or adjustments to the policy. Don't be afraid of a home inspection! In many cases, they can actually help lower your premiums or help you find the right coverage for your home.