Let’s talk a little bit about inspections. I’m not talking about the kind you get when you buy a home (although those are very important), I’m talking about inspections that impact your insurance. First, I’ll mention a few things about the inspections that insurers perform when they write a policy, and then I’ll talk about a couple of inspections that you might want to get yourself, especially if you’re going to go shopping for insurance on your home.
When you buy a new policy, most insurers in Florida will now perform an inspection on the home. Some will only look at the exterior, but some want to see inside, as well, particularly for high-value homes. Insurance inspectors will examine the outside for general housekeeping, hazards such as trampolines, limbs overhanging the roof, and the condition and wear of the roof. Inside, they will look at your breaker panel, water heater, A/C unit, and check for evidence of plumbing leaks (or even signs of potential future leaks, such as corroded toilet supply lines). If they spot a problem, you will need to fix it (or face possible cancellation), and you are entitled to a copy of the report. Even items that seem minor need to be addressed quickly, and this can help you avoid a claim later on.
Beyond what the insurer might do, I’d recommend that you get two inspections (which can be done at the same time), particularly if you think it’s time to shop for new insurance. One is a “four-point inspection” and the other is a “wind mitigation inspection.” There are many good home inspectors around that can do these. Typically, you can get this done in a week or less, and the cost for both inspections, if done together, is in the $150 to $250 range. The four-point inspection focuses on the four major systems of the home: plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and roof. The inspector can spot problems that might lead to a loss later, and the report will help you document the age and condition of these major home components. The wind mitigation inspection will focus on the roof and how it ties into the framing. This inspection documents the type of decking and nailing, roof shape, roof coverage, hurricane clips/wraps, and any secondary water barrier (like peel and stick). It would also note other wind resistive features such as impact-resistant windows or hurricane shutters. The wind inspection usually pays for itself with premium credits (unless your home is brand new, then it’s probably already getting these credits), and all insurers accept the report you’ll receive. So, keep a copy so you can provide it in case you need to change insurers. The four-point inspection is usually only good for six months or a year, but I’d keep it much longer than that.
Some clients find these inspections to be an irritant, an inconvenience. In my view, they are a good thing. If you can find a problem before it turns into a claim, that’s obviously great, and if you can get credits to bring the premium down, who wouldn’t want that?