Home insurance providers make sure their business succeeds by skillfully assessing risks. This is why home inspections usually take place at the beginning of a new policy. Insurance inspections are not the same as a home inspection for purchase. There are specific risks and liabilities that an insurance inspection looks for.
Certain things fail a home inspection, so it’s worth investing your time to prepare for the appointment as well as to be at home during an inspection. We have some tips to help you balance overthinking the impending doom and being smart with your inspection preparation.
While no one enjoys an inspection, you don’t need to stress when facing one yourself. Read on to find out what’s behind the home inspection, what a home inspector looks for, and the best ways to handle the results.
Why You Need a Home Insurance Inspection
Successful insurance depends on accurate risk assessment. Insurance itself works when a group of people comes together to balance their costs in the event of misfortune. By paying monthly premiums, clients put their own money into the pool to cover each other’s needs.
There are many more intricacies that go into insurance companies and funding, obviously. But insurance boils down to a company promising they will be able to meet the needs of their members when the need arises.
For their own protection, insurance companies often inspect what they agree to insure. They may need confidence that the property they are insuring will not cause exorbitant strain on their system.
Ultimately, it comes down to the bottom line. If the insurance company is not confident in their risk level for a client, they will expect more money to be invested by the other party or drop the policy altogether.
What an Insurance Inspector Looks for in Your Home
The main reasons for an inspection are to provide a cost of replacement estimate and risk assessment. How much will the client’s property cost to replace and how likely is this client to be needing replacement?
The cost of replacement does not equal market value. Remember, an insurance company protects your assets. Often, this includes personal injury on your property and belongings in your home. Therefore, a market value assessment doesn’t adequately consider what you expect your coverage to include.
Risk assessment gives a picture to your insurance provider of how likely a major accident will happen on your property. This is why things like pools and trampolines are taken into account when setting premiums and policy coverage.
Make sure you understand the negotiated terms. Do you expect your policy to cover actual cash value, which usually accounts for 80% of the cost of repairs? Or do you want guaranteed replacement cost, which allows for 125% cost of replacement to provide wiggle room?
How to Prepare for a Home Inspection
Inspections provide some initial assurance a homeowner and home will be capable of routine maintenance and repair. An in-person inspector gains first-hand knowledge of warning signs. If the inspector does their job well, the inspection will mitigate significant risks in that simple step.
Think Like a Home Inspector
What types of possessions or structures are risky in your assumption? The main signals inspectors look for are structural cracks, signs of water damage, pest infestation, and system function.
If something doesn’t look right to you, chances are the inspector will notice the same hazard. Look at this as an opportunity to improve your living conditions. This benefits you even more than the inspection.
Do you have an aggressive dog? Plan accordingly for the inspector’s visit. Don’t hide the fact you own one (especially because claims involving pets are very common). But be practical about what to do with your dog during an inspection.
Walk Through Your Property
By simply walking through your property, you can spot obvious needs to address. Make sure all smoke detectors are installed and working correctly. Clean out those gutters and replace any removed spouts. Find the motivation to install a gate around your pool finally.
Make sure your major home systems are accessible. If your inspector can’t even get to your electrical panel or water heater because of your belongings, that might make it into the notes. Be realistic in your own expectations. Your inspector is a person just like you, not a completely heartless robot.
Now’s the time to fix the fence you’ve procrastinated doing. Or maybe this is the opportunity to finally get rid of a swingset no one uses. Exterior upkeep can be just as important as interior finishing touches.
In some inspections, just your exterior property gets a walk-through. In other cases, an interior inspection is required. Feel free to ask your insurance agent ahead of time how extensive the inspection will be.
Make a Good First Impression
The simple act of cleaning goes a long way in presenting yourself as a capable homeowner, even if you’re getting insurance for a home you don’t live in. It will give a great first impression and can improve the entire experience.
While the inspector’s job is not to run around with a white glove, first impressions do go a long way. Tidying up is a way to put your best face forward, but if the thought is too overwhelming, look into hiring a service.
Alternatively, you can do the cleaning yourself. It doesn’t cost anything but your time and energy for a light cleaning. Besides, you’re the ultimate beneficiary of the cleanup. Cleaning may even alert you to problems like water damage before your insurance company spots them.
Responding to a Home Insurance Inspection
The best way to respond to a home inspection report is to sit down with your insurance agent. They are your advocate between their company and you as the client.
Insurance is a service provided for you. Therefore, you are the one who needs to be satisfied with your policy and coverage. If you have questions, do not hesitate to seek clarification. Your agent’s job is to guide the dialogue between you and your provider.
Your agent will be able to advise on your repairs. An insurance company has the authority to cancel a policy if you present too great a risk.
Your agent is your go-between and can help you prevent cancellation. Negotiate your repairs and upgrades and promptly provide proof of repair. Contracts are two-sided, and holding up your end in a reasonable amount of time will go a long way.
Continue As Is
In the best-case scenario, if you prepared properly, there may be no response necessary. Often there are no surprises or major flaws, and the process is easy. The inspector is not trying to find ways to make your life difficult. But they should make sure the insured property fits the policy.
If you go into the process understanding that this whole experience can be to your benefit, home inspections don’t have to be scary. At the end of the process, the goal should be to cover your assets adequately and give you the confidence to face homeownership.
If any part of the process makes you uneasy or leaves you with questions, don’t hesitate to shop around for an agent or a provider that meets your needs. You might even find after making changes and updates you can lower your insurance premiums.
Maria Hanson writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, USInsuranceAgents.com. She is passionate about helping homeowners navigate the process of finding the right insurance fit for them.
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