Home Insurance Inspection: How to Prepare
As a homeowner, you likely know every nook and cranny of your home pretty well. And while your insurance policy application may have seemed comprehensive enough, many insurance providers will want to get to know your home on a more personal level. Before approving coverage, you’ll likely have to undergo a home insurance inspection to give your provider peace of mind before offering your home (and family) protection from risks like theft, injury and natural disasters.
To speed up the process when buying home insurance, look for companies that are taking advantage of modern technology to expedite the process. Here at Hippo, for example, we use data to help verify the value and condition of some items in advance to save you time. But no matter which company you choose, here’s what to expect in a home insurance inspection.
- Home inspections have two purposes: to appraise your home’s replacement cost accurately and to identify any existing risks that you need to address.
- There are three main types of home inspections: interior, exterior and four-point inspections.
- The age of your home and your home’s location determines what type of home inspection your insurance provider requires, if any.
What to expect during a home insurance inspection
Whether you're a first-time homeowner or you’re looking to give your insurance provider a quick refresher on your home’s condition, an home insurance inspection is always a good idea.
Though welcoming a stranger into your home may not be your idea of a good time, it’s necessary if you want your insurance policy to reflect the current value and condition of your home accurately. Think of it like getting your new engagement ring appraised so you could replace it should it ever fall off your finger.
So what should you expect during a home insurance inspection? First, your insurance company will likely schedule it within 30 to 90 days of your policy application (depending on your location). The inspection process takes anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the type of inspection scheduled.
The inspection process takes anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, during which your home inspector looks for any potential risks that weren't clearly listed on your application.
During this time, your home inspector looks for any potential risks that may not have been clearly listed on your application. They’ll also adjust your policy if the estimated replacement cost is inaccurate or they believe you don’t have enough coverage.
Types of home inspections
Insurance inspectors evaluate homes based on the risks they present. That means your current home inspection may be different from your last. The age, size, location and cost of your home can all affect the outcome of your inspection. Just like your home insurance policy options, there are a variety of home inspection types.
What do insurance companies check for in interior inspections?
If you’re buying a newer home, you may not have to undergo an interior inspection. But for older homes, they’re usually required in order to determine your home’s current condition and if you need to replace any systems. In addition to determining your home’s replacement costs, home inspectors will also check for defects or damage to your home, including:
- Electrical systems
- HVAC unit
- Interior walls
In addition to looking for potential risks, they also take note of how you care for your property. Insurers refer to this as “pride of ownership.” Insurers want to know that you’re doing your part to prevent losses, which means having fire alarms, smoke alarms, security systems and anti-theft devices in place. But if you don’t have these devices installed already, don’t fret. Some insurance providers will offer smart home kits when you purchase a policy (like us).
What do insurance companies check for in exterior inspections?
The most common type of home inspection is the exterior inspection. And while you don’t have to be home for this inspection to take place, it’s in your best interest to understand what exactly your home insurance company looks for. The inspector will likely take pictures and detailed notes about the condition of your:
- Exterior walls
- Siding and/or paneling
- Additional structures such as sheds, fences or detached garages
Another major part of home insurance inspections is pest control. Your inspector looks for any signs of previous pest damage (rodents, termites, etc.) as well as potential breeding areas. Areas where water pools up near the home or any cracks in your home’s structure can be a red flag to insurance providers, so make sure to take care of those issues beforehand to keep your insurance rates low.
What do insurance companies check for in four-point inspections?
A four-point inspection is a term used to describe the four main areas of your home that inspectors look at during inspections for insurance. While they’re included in interior and exterior inspections, these four areas are the most likely to cause high-claim payouts later on (and therefore require a more in-depth inspection). Four-point inspections focus on your home’s roof, plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems.
What do inspectors look for?
Home inspections have two purposes: to appraise your home’s replacement cost accurately and to identify any existing risks that you need to address. If there is existing damage to your home that could affect potential claims down the line, your home insurance may update your policy to reflect that. Likewise, suppose they determine your home to be at a higher risk for catastrophes like floods than what you listed in your application. In that case, your provider may require that you get additional protection.
To help avoid any changes in your policy, it’s best to prepare the inside and outside of your home for an upcoming inspection.
How to prepare for a home insurance inspection
Before getting your home inspected, it’s a good idea to go through and repair any issues that may catch an inspector’s eye (and therefore raise your premiums). You may have caught many of these issues through your monthly home maintenance checklist, but if this is a new home or you haven’t checked out your home in a bit, here’s a quick list of things to be on the lookout for depending on the type of inspection you have scheduled:
Preparing for an interior home inspection
Complete the following tasks throughout your home to make your interior home insurance inspection a breeze.
- Buy a fire extinguisher, if you don’t have one already
- Check smoke detectors and replace batteries if needed
- Clean out the fireplace
- Empty dryer vent
- Seal leaks in your attic or basement
- Unclog backed-up drains
Preparing for an exterior home inspection
Give the exterior walls of your home, any additional structures and your yard a once over to make sure you get the best rate possible.
- Clear gutters of any debris
- Clean your fireplace flue
- Get HVAC and plumbing systems serviced
- Remove any standing water
- Seal and paint any cracks
- Spray for bugs
- Trim overhanging tree limbs
Can I get home insurance without an inspection?
You can get a home insurance policy without getting a home inspection. While inspections are pretty common, if your home is brand new, has had an inspection recently or if you’re in a low-risk location, your insurance provider won’t always require it.
Though this isn’t a hard and fast rule, as some home insurance companies require an inspection no matter what. This is why it’s important to chat with several homeowners insurance companies about their best practices before sending through an insurance application.
If they require an inspection, they’ll likely send someone on their own that they have worked with before. You’re more than welcome to get a second opinion, though you’d be on the hook for paying for the extra inspector. And while going the DIY route may seem tempting to save you extra cash, it’s best to leave this to the professionals to make sure your dream home is as good as it looks. Plus, many insurance companies require a licensed professional.
If the inspection doesn’t reveal anything unexpected, your policy will remain active. Should an inspector find anything of concern, they’ll send a report to your provider and walk you through the next steps (which can involve mandatory repairs or a change in your coverage). Most providers will work with you to ensure you’re fully protected.
Home insurance inspections shouldn’t be put off. And while the process can take time, it’s well worth it to ensure you have the best protection possible. Still have a pressing question about home inspections? Speak with a Hippo specialist who can address any concerns you have about inspectors and how their report affects your final home insurance policy. We’re here to make the process easy.