Before insuring your home, your insurance company may wish to do an in person inspection, which might come as a surprise to some who have taken out insurance policies in the past without inspection. There are many factors that may necessitate an inspection, if your home is older, has unusual risk indicators or things of value that would need replacing in a claim, you might find yourself scheduling an inspection, and wondering what exactly is going to take place.
The actual home inspection will occur after the insurance company issues a verbal or written “binder” confirming coverage and cost of insurance premium. Your insurance company will then schedule an inspection within 60-90 days of your application for coverage and a home inspector may inspect the exterior or interior of the property or both. This may take several hours, depending on the size and features of your home, so set aside adequate time to be present. The inspector will be looking at will be looking at your home’s:
- Windows and doors
- Fire alarm and extinguishers
- Security systems
- Yard and driveway
- Overall structure
- Signs of pest damage
The inspector will be considering the condition of the home and assessing any possible risks and replacement costs to the expensive systems in the home as well as what is in place to prevent loss.
When you are preparing for your inspection there are a number of things you can do to present your home in a favorable light, and make any changes that will show the inspector that you are doing your due diligence to prevent future claims that are costly for the insurance company, and also a nuisance value for the home owner regardless of whether the costs are covered by a policy.
Tidy your house and yard before your inspection. While the inspector isn’t going to be looking at your home through the eyes of a judgmental relative, they will consider clutter or obstructions to be a possible risk – so clear your yard of any debris, give your home a deep clean and make sure items are stored safely.
Your insurance company may want documentation prior to the inspection, so have a floor plan on hand showing square footage, any details of renovations or interior design work, information on any security features and lists of any updates that have been made to HVAC, plumbing, electrical and roof.
Here is a list of things to do before the inspector arrives:
- Inspect your living spaces, making sure windows can be locked and rooms are well ventilated.
- Look for water damage or signs of mold that may exist on walls or ceilings.
- Inspect attic and basement – if they are present – again, looking for ventilation, signs of water damage or pests.
- Plumbing and electrical: look for exposed wires, leaks, mold or mildew. Check that your dryer vent is properly installed and venting well. HVAC and plumbing systems can be costly to replace so these will be inspected thoroughly.
- If you have a fireplace, make the flue and damper are in good working condition. If there is evidence of backdrafting the inspector will flag this.
- Make sure you have new batteries in all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and check the expiry date of your fire extinguisher – replace if necessary.
You may feel that your home has minimal risk factors, but you may have overlooked something that will be costly in the long run, so be sure to check thoroughly. If your home was recently purchased, act on the advice of the home inspector you used while in Escrow if they have identified areas for concern. If you haven’t been able to book a contractor by the time the inspector for your insurance agency arrives, provide them with documentation of any work you plan to carry out in the near future.
After your home inspection, make sure you read any correspondence carefully, as your insurance company may make recommendations of things you can do to reduce your premium. This is crucial because an unfavorable inspection or not following corrections suggested by the insurance company could result in a premium increase, or in rare cases, cancellation of the policy.
Your specialists at Grand Mutual Insurance are here to ensure you get and retain the best coverage and can assist in helping you understand the inspection process.