Having a checklist for a homeowners inspection will help you better prepare and get the best results for claim.
Many homeowners insurance providers perform a home insurance inspection before issuing a policy, renewing an existing policy, or processing a claim. But that doesn’t mean an inspector can barge into your home anytime they please.
A home insurance inspection is when your insurance provider sends a professional inspector to your home to assess the company’s risk of insuring the property. It could be something as simple as a drive-by inspection, where an inspector simply looks at your home’s exterior, or it could entail an interior inspection of your whole home.
Not all insurance providers conduct home insurance inspections. Many perform them on a case-by-case basis, depending on the age of a home, as well as its size and location.
Why do insurance companies want to inspect your house?
Typically, insurers perform a home insurance inspection for three main reasons:
- To evaluate how much it would cost for your home to be rebuilt
- To determine the value of your belongings
- To assess any existing risks that need to be addressed prior to offering you a homeowners insurance policy
Essentially, a home insurance inspection helps insurance companies mitigate their liability exposure. In turn, inspections can have several outcomes: you may be required to repair property issues before an insurance policy can be issued, you may be assessed a higher insurance premium, or you could be denied coverage altogether.
What does a home insurance inspector look for?
Home insurance inspectors have a checklist they go through when evaluating homes. That checklist typically includes the following items:
Exterior inspection checklist:
- Exterior walls
- Exterior structures, such as a shed or detached garage
- Hazards, such as overhanging trees
Interior inspection checklist:
- Walls and ceilings
- Kitchen appliances
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Electrical system
- Drainage system
- Security system
How to prepare for a home insurance inspection
A home insurance inspector must obtain your permission before stepping onto your property or entering your home; they aren’t allowed to trespass.
These steps will help you pass a home insurance inspection:
- Check your roof. Repair any loose, damaged, or missing shingles.
- Clear out gutters. Remove leaves, twigs, and other debris. Also, make sure gutters and downspouts are securely attached to your home.
- Prune trees. Trim branches so that nothing is touching your house or hanging over your home.
- Fix cracks or loose bricks in a chimney. These can be a fire hazard.
- Seal cracks and leaks around windows and doors. This can also improve your home’s insulation and lower your energy bill.
- Test the HVAC system. Change air filters to improve performance, if needed.
- Look for signs of waters leaks. Check under sinks and around toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers. Also keep an eye out for wall discoloration or bubbling paint.
- Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Replace batteries if necessary.
- Check the basement. Keep an eye out for pests, mold, and cracks in the foundation.
- Survey the attic. Check for water damage and rodents.
- Examine walls and ceilings. Look for cracks, stains, or other damage.
What is a 4-point inspection?
A four-point inspection is when a home insurance inspector focuses on four main components of a home: roofing, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. This type of inspection tends to be performed when a home reaches 20 years of age—a time when roofing, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC issues often arise.
To prepare for a four-point inspection, make sure your HVAC system is functioning properly, inspect the condition of your roof, look for signs of leaking around plumbing fixtures, and check for any exposed wiring (all electrical outlets should be grounded properly).
Frequently asked questions
Can I get home insurance without a home inspection?
Yes. Some insurance providers don’t require a home inspection before issuing or renewing an insurance policy. This is more common for newer homes. If you have an older house (think 30+ years), an insurer likely requires your home to pass an inspection.
How often does a house need to be checked for insurance purposes?
Although it can vary by provider, most insurance companies perform home inspections once every 10 to 12 years. Insurance companies may also perform an inspection when you file a claim, but that’s technically an appraisal, where a representative comes to your home to assess the damage and determine if your property is eligible for coverage under your policy.
What should I do if my homeowners insurance policy is canceled after an inspection?
If your home fails an inspection, you can do one of three things. You can either request permission to make necessary repairs in order to maintain or renew your insurance policy; dispute the report’s findings (and provide supporting evidence); or find a new insurance provider. The ball is in your court.