What Is a Home Insurance Inspection?

Written By
Eric Foster
Posted
July 16, 2020

If you are buying home insurance for the first time or changing insurers, there is a good chance your new home insurance company will want to inspect the property.

That’s right, someone is going to come inspect the quality and condition of your most valuable asset.

Before the anxiety starts kicking in, remember that by the end of this blog, you will know how to manage the process and how it can help you save money in the future.

First off, which homes get inspected:
An “industry standard” I have heard from other agents, is that older homes (25+) are more frequently inspected.  But to be honest, it is entirely dependent on the insurance company.

The good news is that there are different forms of home inspection and some options include virtual, or drone inspections. At the end of this blog, we  included a chart  that outlines some of the insurers we work with, the types of homes they inspect, how they inspect, and what options are available to you.

What actually gets inspected and what are they looking for?

The inspection allows your insurance company to gather data on house related items that are sometimes not listed in your insurance application like:

  • Gutters, roofing, siding, chimney(s), windows, doors, and fencing
  • HVAC, plumbing, electrical systems, basement, attic, walls, and ceilings
  • Pools, garages, safety and security features, and the surrounding grounds

It typically takes a professional to evaluate the condition and lifespan of these items, which makes it difficult to ask these questions on a typical insurance application.

What happens after the inspection?

All of this data makes the replacement cost, the main limit on your insurance policy from us, more accurate and it guarantees your home is insured properly.

The bad news is that once an inspection occurs, insurers can choose to increase (or decrease) your policy premium and they can even drop you as a customer.

I know, that part doesn’t seem fair. We don’t make the rules, we just want to give you the pieces to play the game.

 

How to prepare for an inspection?

First, get in the right frame of mind:

  • You own a home, and with home ownership comes home upkeep.
  • A professional is coming to help highlight the riskiest, and potentially costliest, future accidents, so you can fix them before they happen.
  • You had to upkeep your home no matter what, now someone is making a free priority list for you.

Seriously, this is how I approach it, and it helps me feel better about the experience.

Now if you are someone who wants to get ahead of the game, there are some things you can do before the inspector arrives:

  • Remove any debris from your roof and repair any damaged or loose shingles. My brother in-law tells the story of how shocked he was when the inspector noted mold on his roof.
  • Branches hanging over or on your roof is a no-no.
  • Your garage/shed/barn and fence may be inspected as well. This is a great excuse to clean out your significant other’s junk in the shed!
  • Make sure your gutters are attached and cleaned.
  • If you have a fireplace, see if the air and smoke is correctly exiting, and if needed hire a chimney sweep (yes, they are real!). Test the damper and flue to see if they work.
  • Repair any decay, mold, or water damage on your walls and ceilings. Remember to check your basement and attic.
  • Check the batteries or expiration dates on your smoke alarm, fire extinguisher, and carbon monoxide detector (like I said, you have to do this anyway!)
  • Speaking of your basement and attic, look for any signs of insects or rodent infestation.
  • Know the last inspection date on your HVAC, and have it professionally serviced or replaced if needed.
  • Test and repair broken windows, doors, and locks.

Home inspections can be stressful and sometimes feel intrusive. Keep a good outlook, use our tips to get ahead of the game, and maybe, just maybe, we can make this experience less awkward, and save you from a bigger accident in the future.

Home inspections by insurance company:

Hippo: Inspect older homes or home with a value greater than $1 million

  • How they inspect: Take pictures, notes, of exterior, will schedule appointment if interior inspection is needed
  • Additional Details: You do not need to be present for the inspection, it typically takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours

Travelers: Inspect older home; as determined by the underwriter

  • How they inspect : Take pictures, notes, measurements of exterior and interior, if no one is home they will leave a door hanger
  • Options available: Infrared camera, drones, smart technology

Nationwide: Inspect exterior on most homes; interior is only credit based or for high value homes over $750,000

  • How they inspect: Take pictures, notes of exterior, will schedule appointment for interior inspection if needed
  • Additional Details: It typically takes between 15 minutes and 2 hours

Plymouth Rock: Inspect following a claim (2 day window), up to 60 days to conduct inspection for new policyholders, all new properties get exterior inspections, annual exterior with all policyholders without prior notice

  • How they inspect: Take pictures, notes of exterior
  • Additional Details: Typically takes about 15 minutes and they use a wide range camera

The Hartford: Inspect homes over 30 years old, over 10 years old with replacement cost less than $100,000, if there was no information on the applicant’s  insurance/credit score, and high value homes over $500,000

  • How they inspect: Take photos of exterior, interior inspection if home is over 50 years old (plumbing and electrical inspection)
  • Additional Details: Typically takes about 15 minutes to three hours, customer must be present for interior inspection


About the Author
Eric Foster
CEO & Founder, Woop Insurance Agency LLC
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