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Guide to home insurance inspections

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

After completing a home insurance application, the provider may require a home inspection. That means an inspector from the insurance company will come by to look at the home.

Although most of us may not be thrilled about a stranger coming by to poke around our home, many insurance providers request an inspection before signing off on a new home insurance policy.

Home inspections are important to ensure the insurance policy reflects the home’s value and liability concerns. Aside from finalizing a home insurance policy, home inspections can also provide valuable benefits to the homeowner. 

Why do insurance companies require home inspections?

The main purpose of a home insurance inspection boils down to one word: liability.

An insurance liability is anything that could create risk for the provider when they agree to underwrite a policy that insures a home.

Although applications for home insurance are thorough and should include an exhaustive list of potential liabilities in the home, many insurance providers want to make sure nothing is overlooked. Thus, insurance companies require home inspections to ensure the application accounts for all liabilities in the home. 

Aside from liability concerns, the home inspection also verifies the home and any other property that will be insured under the policy. This helps make sure that the policy has the right level of coverage to protect the home if it’s damaged or destroyed. 

Benefits of a home insurance inspection

Home inspections aren’t just to satisfy insurance providers. These inspections can help homeowners. 

A few of the benefits homeowners get include:

  • The inspector is looking for potential risks that could impact claims. Uncovering risks that are previously unaccounted for protects the homeowner. Once the risks are identified, the homeowner can address them.
  • Home insurance companies also discount their policies for home features like security systems and fire alarms. Anything in the home that could provide a discounted premium will also be identified during the inspection. 
  • Home inspectors will look into the level of coverage for the insured home. Homeowners don’t want too much or too little coverage for their home, so getting a second opinion from a professional is always helpful.

Although these inspections might seem like an inconvenience, these benefits are worth it.

Cost of a home insurance inspection

The cost of a home inspection will change based on your provider and the home’s location. State Farm estimates that home inspection costs range from $300 to $500. 

However, you generally only have to pay this cost if you want an inspector for your own purposes, such as you’re buying or selling a home. If an insurance provider requires an inspection, the provider generally sends the inspector out and pays for their time. You shouldn’t be charged for the inspection if it’s for insurance purposes.

How to prepare for a home insurance inspection

Before the home inspector arrives, there are a few pieces of information that you should have on hand. Gathering these documents before the home inspection will make the process go smoother. 

The information to have for the inspection includes:

  • Square footage documentation: This is helpful to verify how large the home is and whether or not the coverage limit is correct for the value of the home. 
  • Renovation details: Any changes to the exterior or interior of the home made by the homeowner should be documented to show the inspector. These changes will affect the home’s value and, therefore, the amount of coverage. 
  • Home systems and alarms: Any documentation you have on home systems and alarms will be helpful to have on hand. Many home insurers offer discounted policies for specific home systems and alarms. 

Any other documentation you have about the home can be helpful to have on hand in case you find out you need it. 

Home insurance inspection checklist

Preparing your home to be inspected is a good idea, and it could save you a few bucks on the premium. Here are a few preparations to consider.

Home exterior inspection:

  • Chimney: Check airflow and any visible damage
  • Doors: Check locks 
  • Foundation: Any cracks or unevenness is a big problem
  • Gutters: Check attachment and remove blockage
  • Roof: Check for damaged shingles and remove debris
  • Yard: Check for dead branches hanging over the home, and secure gates and walkways

Home interior inspection:

  • Attic: Check for mold and infestation
  • Basement: Check for mold and water damage
  • Ceilings: Check for mold and cracks
  • Fire extinguishers: Check expiration 
  • Fireplace: Check airflow
  • Home systems: Check for installation and in good working order

If you know any problem spots besides these, it can be helpful to address those issues before the inspection too.

What do home inspectors look for?

Home inspectors are looking for any hidden risks that were not identified in the insurance application. Any risk that is not accounted for will create liability for the insurance company, so they require home inspections to avoid unwanted liability.

Expect the inspection to take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on the size and age of the home. The home inspector will look at the home’s exterior. It’s also common for home inspectors to go inside the home.

Post-inspection

After the inspection, you might receive a list of recommendations from the insurance company. The recommendations are usually on potential risk concerns and how to fix them.

Make sure to clarify with follow-up questions if necessary. Any uncertainty could lead to problems with the provider.

If any of the recommendations seem unreasonable, reach out to the insurer immediately. Some insurers may be willing to change their recommendations if the homeowner can prove otherwise.

Can you get home insurance without an inspection?

Not all home insurance providers require their customers to have a home inspection before issuing a policy. You may be able to sign up for home insurance without getting an inspection first.

Never to ask the provider if they can waive the home inspection. To the provider, it may seem there’s something wrong with the property, and they may not agree to insure your home. Be cooperative with the provider if they request an inspection. 

The takeaway

  • Many home insurers require inspections to identify hidden risks.
  • Home inspections for insurance are usually free and don’t take long.
  • Some insurers don’t require inspections, but be flexible with those that do so you can get the best coverage. 

Home inspections are a common step in the home insurance process. Many insurers require them, so don’t be surprised if an inspection is requested when signing up for a new home insurance policy.

A home inspection is used to identify risk concerns and to ensure the home insurance policy will have the right level of coverage for the home. To get the best results in a home inspection, make sure that the interior and exterior of the home are in good shape before the inspector arrives.

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