The Three Sides of Home Inspections
You have heard the adage “There are two sides to every story”. The story I am going to share with you has three sides: The Homeowner, The Insurance Company, and The Insurance Agency. I share this, so there is a deeper understanding of what a home inspection is and why they happen.
The insurance companies provide protection for your home in the event of a partial or total loss covered under your policy. This is a risk for them. To protect their interest in the home, they need to make sure that there are no immediate safety or health hazards or anything that could diminish the structural integrity of the home they are insuring. The insurance company then hires an inspection company to conduct an inspection on the homes that are insured. Most inspections are exterior only. In an exterior inspection they look at the roof to make sure it is in good condition. If the roof is showing signs of wear such as curled or missing shingles, the insurance company will ask the home owner to have the roof repaired, replaced, moss removed, or branches cut back to be sure the integrity of the roof is intact to prevent losses on the home. The inspector will look over the condition of the soffits, facia, window trim, to be sure that there isn’t any bare wood, peeling paint or missing portions. The condition of these areas insures the elements will not rot this portion of the home or allow for water to enter the structure. Siding is also very important to protect the home from the elements, so the inspector looks for missing or broken pieces of siding, peeling paint, bare exposed wood, visible Tyvek, logs that need refinishing, etc. The existence of any of these items on a home can increase the probability of a loss occurring. To be compliant with code, any steps with 4 or more risers and any decks or porches that are greater than 30 inches above the ground require handrails and railings. The inspector will look for missing railings, broken steps or rotten deck boards. If any of these exist on the home, they could cause a liability loss. Another thing the inspector looks at is any outbuildings you have like garages or sheds to determine if they are structurally sound. Inspectors also take note of “debris” in the yard. Whether the debris is natural items, sticks or limbs, or personal belongings, trash, cars that are not in running condition, building materials or supplies; if there is an excessive amount of debris, the insurance company would ask for it to be cleaned up as it is potential for a liability loss.
A part of our premium is based on how much the company has paid out on losses. If the previous year had more losses than the year before they will have to increase rates to compensate. Home inspections are done to ensure that the home owners have pride of ownership and are doing general maintenance on their home to prevent loss from occurring and to make sure their home is a desirable risk to have.
The Insurance Agency
We are the middle man between the insured and the insurance company. The company informs the agency that they will be ordering an inspection on a list of policies that we have, and then we notify the insured to make them aware that this will be occurring. We understand that a person’s home is the biggest investment they will ever make and sometimes it can be difficult to advise them of the items that need attention because we certainly do not intend to upset anyone or make things difficult for anyone. We are here to represent each party involved, the company and the insured. We will go to bat for our companies and our insureds as necessary. If a company is making a request that we disagree with we will argue that on behalf of the insured. We will do the same for the companies we write with if something comes up during an inspection that the insured feels isn’t necessary. We do our very best at educating ourselves and our insured’s so that we are all on the same page as to why the insurance company may be asking for corrections that can be confusing or easy to misunderstand. Typically, the companies that do order inspections will work with us at great length, offering to give the insured until next renewal to make any corrections that came back on the inspections.
As a home owner, each spring, take a few minutes to look over the exterior of your home and make note of items that require your immediate attention or items that will need to be done in the future. By maintaining your home, you are showing the insurance company that you are a good risk to take because you are doing your best to protect your biggest asset and showing pride in ownership.
When an inspection concludes with work needing to be done on a home it can cause animosity and feelings of anger and disappointment. Homeowners can become defensive. We do our best to relay the results of the inspection as empathetically as possible and offer full reasoning or explanations behind the items needing to be resolved. We also aim to reinforce why the insurance company needs these items repaired and the potential for non-renewal or cancellations if they are not fixed.
If an inspection is ever ordered on your home by your insurance company, you now know the three sides of the process of the inspection and what everyone’s roles are during it. As your insurance agency, we will do our best to communicate clearly and fully between you and the insurance company.