Home insurance inspections can impact home insurance policies, positively and negatively. From identifying outdated electrical systems with faulty wiring to foundation cracks and water damage, inspections provide homeowners, agents, and insurance providers with the information necessary to determine the right level of coverage a property might require.
This article will explain how:
- Home inspections help price coverage through identification of risks.
- Inspections provide peace of mind by identifying issues before they become major issues.
- Homeowners can take steps to assist home inspections, such as ensuring electrical systems are in working order, and by repairing existing property damage.
What are home insurance inspections?
Home insurance inspections are assessments of a property's condition. These inspections evaluate the home's structure, systems, and potential hazards. The results of a home inspection are used to determine the risk involved in insuring a particular property and may estimate the replacement cost value. However, don’t confuse this with a buyer’s home inspection or an appraisal.
- An appraisal is an estimate of the property’s value, which is determined based on similar homes in the area while taking into account the home’s age, features and size.
- A home inspection, which typically occurs prior to closing, is initiated by the buyer and examines the home for issues.
- A home insurance inspection, on the other hand, is initiated by the insurance carrier to identify potential issues, risks, and general insurability.
Are home inspections required for insurance?
While not always required, insurers often try to mitigate risk through home insurance inspections. Subsequently, they are not uncommon. Each home insurance provider can decide whether to request one from a prospective—or current—policyholder.
Homeowners can typically expect insurance providers to request inspections on homes with the following characteristics:
- An older home and / or hasn’t had an inspection in the previous 10 years
- Have a history of damage and loss claims
- Located in a high-risk area, such as a flood or earthquake zone or coastal region
- Have insufficient information available to calculate the replacement cost value
Importance of home inspections
Home inspections help insurance companies avoid risky properties. If an inspector identifies a problem, the insurance provider may require the homeowners to address the issue(s) in order to maintain coverage. If the inspector deems it a failed inspection, the insurance carrier may choose to cancel the policy.
In addition, insurers are looking for “pride of ownership.”1 Ideal policyholders do their part to protect their home and prevent losses by maintaining the properties structures and internal systems (like plumbing, wiring, etc.) or by installing safety measures, like fences around pools or security systems.
Identifies potential risks
Most importantly, insurance inspections are used to assess the condition of the property and any risks identified at that time. Risks are any conditions in the home that could cause damage to your possessions or property, such as fire, flood, or mold. By identifying these risks, insurance carriers and independent agencies can help homeowners address potential issues, avoid future claims, and mitigate risks.
Determines coverage needs
If a home has a high risk of damage, insurance carriers may require additional coverage, such as flood insurance or earthquake insurance. Some inspectors and home insurance providers may alert homeowners of earthquake or flood risks, at which point, the policyholder can choose to seek out additional coverage.
However, it is important to note that not all home inspectors alert homeowners to coverage gaps. Therefore, it is important that homeowners educate themselves on the history and current condition of the property, geography of the area, and prevalence of natural disasters in the area.
Impacts cost of coverage
Depending on the outcome of an inspection, insurance companies may offer lower premiums. If the home requires repairs, the inspection may result in higher than expected premiums.
Home insurance inspections determine replacement cost coverage for the insurer. This is not to be confused with your home’s market value. Replacement cost factors in the labor and materials necessary to rebuild your home in the event of a total loss. This means the homeowner may need to pay more in premiums—or risk paying large out-of-pocket sums for uncovered losses.
Provides peace of mind
More than anything, home inspections provide homeowners with peace of mind, knowing the home has been evaluated by a professional. Inspections help homeowners identify any potential issues with their homes before they become major headaches—and avoid costly repairs down the road.
Planning for home insurance inspections
The home inspector may conduct both an interior and exterior examination of the home. From the roof to the basement and everything in between, exterior inspections will focus on structural integrity, water damage and other hazards. An internal inspection will typically include inspections of the HVAC system, electrical and plumbing systems.
Each carrier has its own requirements for home insurance inspections; some require full interior and exterior examinations, while others may only require exterior inspections. Some providers, like Openly, utilize the latest technology to provide homeowners with the ability to conduct DIY inspections via an app on their mobile devices.
Interior inspections typically involve an examination of the home's structure, systems, and appliances. A few ways homeowners can prepare for an interior inspection include:
- Collecting documents showing the home’s square footage, updates or renovations
- Ensuring all systems and appliances are in working order and repair or replace, if necessary
- Cleaning and decluttering the home
- Repairing handrails, leaky pipes, and smoke detectors
Exterior inspections typically involve an examination of the roof, siding, and foundation. To prepare for an exterior inspection, the homeowner should:
- Remove debris or clutter around the perimeter of the home
- Repair damaged siding, particularly on older homes
- Ensure gutters and downspouts are clear and in good condition
Home inspections are important for homeowners and insurers
Ultimately, home inspections are an essential tool for insurance providers and homeowners alike, helping to protect properties and minimize the financial impact of unexpected events. While not always required, homeowners should be prepared for the possibility of an insurance inspection and take proactive steps to ensure their home is in good condition, which reduces risk.
If the results of the home inspection determine that more comprehensive coverage is necessary, consider talking to an independent agent about Openly, where you’ll receive not just a premium and comprehensive policy, but also the service and empathy you’ll need in the event of a claim.
* We provide this information to help you understand insurance. Any coverage is subject to the terms of your policy. Please refer to your policy and declaration page for complete coverage details.
1 Insurance Risk Services. “The ABCs of Home Insurance Inspections.” 13 April 2021. Accessed 29 March 2023. https://insuranceriskservices.com/blog/the-abcs-of-home-insurance-inspections/