Some insurance companies require a home insurance inspection before they approve your application for home insurance. The purpose of a home insurance inspection is to assess the potential risks facing your home and to determine the value of your home and its contents. This helps estimate how much coverage you may need in the event of a claim. In this article, we’ll go over what a home insurance inspection is and what you can expect if your insurer is requiring one.
What is a home insurance inspection?
A home insurance inspection is not the same as a home inspection or appraisal that you might have performed when purchasing your home. Before you purchased this house, you likely went through a home inspection to ensure the safety and structure of the house as well as an appraisal to determine the value of the house.
A home insurance inspection is similar to a home inspection and an appraisal in that it looks at the house’s safety, structure, and value. However, it’s used for insurance purposes to evaluate the risks and replacement cost of the property and its contents. This will give the insurance company an idea of the value of your property as well as the likelihood you’ll need to file a claim for damages. This, in turn, will help determine the appropriate coverage and associated premium costs for your home policy.
When is a home insurance inspection required?
Home insurance inspections aren’t always required and are more common if:
- You are insuring an older home
- You live in an area at high risk for natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, or forest fires (flooding and earthquakes are generally not covered by typical homeowners policies)
- You are switching home insurance companies
- Your insurer can’t accurately determine the replacement value of certain items or structures at the time of policy purchase
- You have a particularly high-value home
- You haven’t had a home inspection in the past 10 years
If your insurance company is requesting a home insurance inspection, don’t worry. Some insurance companies simply make it a part of their underwriting process. Ask your insurance advisor when purchasing a policy what the inspection process looks like for the carrier you’ve selected.
What can I expect from a home insurance inspection?
Home insurance inspections can feel daunting, but you don’t need to feel overwhelmed. Every company has its own way of handling home insurance inspections. Here are the basics of what you can expect from your inspection.
Your insurer may request to visit your home a few weeks after your homeowners’ policy begins. Based on the inspection, they might have to update your policy coverages if they think you don’t have enough coverage listed already.
If the inspector just needs to see the outside of the house, they might just drive by to check the exterior. You may not even know that they’ve stopped by.
If the company requires an interior inspection, they may or may not give you notice before arriving. You’ll want to keep your home in tip-top shape in case the inspector arrives unexpectedly. Again, you can check with your insurance advisor to see if the carrier you’ve selected typically schedules the visit in advance or if they plan on calling beforehand.
The inspector’s job is twofold.
- They will be looking for any red flags in your home that might increase your likelihood of filing a claim. (They will also look for “green flags” that reduce your risk of filing a claim, like if you have a fire extinguisher, smoke alarms, and home security system, and/or if you live in a gated community).
- They will assess the value of the property.
What are some red flags they will be looking for in the inspection?
- Inadequate or damaged plumbing systems
- Inadequate or damaged electrical systems
- Inadequate or damaged HVAC systems
- Visible signs of damage on the exterior structure or interior walls/ceilings
- Structural cracks
- Roof damage (cracks, missing shingles, or bricks, etc.)
- Water damage
- Rot or decay
- Mold or mildew
- Animal or insect infestation
- Inadequate ventilation
- Cracked steps or sidewalks
- Missing or broken handrails
- Broken locks
- Unsealed doors or windows
- Detached or filled gutters
- Expired fire extinguishers
- Broken smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Keep in mind that the inspector evaluates both the structure of your home, for in the event it were to get damaged (dwelling coverage) as well as the possibility that others could get injured on your property (liability coverage). If someone falls on your front steps because of a broken handrail, for example, you could be responsible for costs associated with their injuries and a claim could be filed under your homeowner’s liability insurance.
What about the green flags? Check out these 11 safety features that can help lower your homeowners’ insurance premiums (and help impress your home insurance inspector).
What happens after a home insurance inspection?
Once the inspection is complete, the insurance underwriter will evaluate the report. They will then either continue your policy, modify it, or they may cancel it if they find the home has an unacceptable risk. Your premium may increase if the inspector noted additional liability risks, structural damages, home characteristics that differ from the application, or a higher replacement value than expected. Many home insurance providers require a home to be insured to at least the replacement value of the home; if when purchasing the policy, you listed the dwelling coverage to be lower than that amount, the insurance company will likely require you to raise your limits.
On the flip side, your rates could also decrease if the inspector noted certain home improvements, like a new electrical system, new roof, advanced security systems, and more. Learn about other ways you may be able to lower your homeowners’ insurance premiums here.
There is a chance your homeowners’ policy could be canceled if your inspector found significant issues, like a severe safety hazard or structural concern. Your insurer may give you a specific timeframe for you to fix these problems and then send out another inspector to ensure the changes were made. If you don’t have proof of improvements that address these concerns, the carrier may issue a notice of cancellation or notice of nonrenewal and you would have to seek a homeowners’ policy elsewhere.
Do I need to do a home insurance inspection?
If your insurance provider doesn’t require one, then you don’t have to have one. If they do require one and you don’t cooperate, the insurance company may cancel your policy.
What is a home insurance inspection really like?
The home insurance inspection can sound overwhelming, but it’s not as bad as it seems. It’s useful for both the insurer and you because it helps you to be adequately covered for your property, structures and liability. It gives a more accurate representation of your situation, and your insurance premiums will reflect that.
Still feeling uncertain about a home insurance inspection? Get in touch with InsuraMatch’s Customer Service department. We are happy to help with any questions or concerns about your home insurance policy.