Home insurance inspection: What to expect

In order to determine the full risk of insuring your home, insurance companies may conduct a home inspection to examine the condition of your home’s frame, interior, and any exterior structures on your property.

Stephanie Nieves author photoKara McGinley

By

Stephanie Nieves

Stephanie Nieves

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in home and auto insurance. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

&

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in home, auto, and renters insurance. She's been writing about insurance since 2019, and her work and insights have been referenced in Kiplinger and WRAL.com.

Updated July 2, 2021|4 min read

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Home insurance inspections aren’t always necessary for getting a home insurance policy, but many companies may require one as part of the underwriting process. During a home insurance inspection, an inspector will examine your home’s exterior, including your roof, windows, and frames, as well as your home’s interior and other structures on your property, like free standing garages, fences, guest houses or sheds.

Before a home inspection, you should check your home, room by room, for any property damage. If potential risks are found that were not listed in the initial application, your rates may increase as a result, so it’s best to get ahead of maintenance repairs before your official inspection.

Key Takeaways

  • During a home insurance inspection, your home’s exterior and interior are examined to help insurance companies determine the replacement cost of your home

  • The inspection will also look for any hazards that may make your home riskier to insure

  • You can prepare for a home inspection by gathering documentation of your home’s value, including details of your home’s square footage, updates to your service lines, and evidence of any design work or renovations

What is a home insurance inspection?

A home inspection is when an insurance company sends someone to your home to verify that the information on your application is correct, and that your property is well-maintained and in good shape. 

Home insurance inspections can expose potential risks that weren’t accounted for during the application process. They may also reveal whether a home’s replacement cost is higher or lower than your insurance company’s initial estimate, in which case your insurer might adjust the final premium to make up for the difference.

Home insurance inspection vs. buyer’s inspection

A home insurance inspection is not to be confused with a buyer’s inspection, which happens before a home is purchased. Home insurance inspections happen after you already own a home and they are initiated by the home insurance company, not the homebuyer. In a buyer’s inspection, someone interested in a home might hire an inspector to examine it before they close on the home, to reveal any issues before the sale is finalized. But in a home insurance inspection, insurance companies can use the results of an inspection to adjust your policy premium.

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How to prepare for a home insurance inspection

Your insurance company will likely complete a home inspection within 30 to 90 days of your insurance application. A home inspector will come to your house and look for any potential risks or hazards that were not initially included in your application. The home inspection process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the specifics of your home. 

To get ahead of things before the inspector arrives, you should have documentation that lists:

  1. The square footage of your home

  2. Costs for any recent interior design work and renovations

  3. Information about your alarm systems and security features

  4. Updates to your roof, plumbing, and HVAC systems

You should also conduct an informal inspection at home before the inspector arrives, by checking all of your interior and exterior structures and making any major repairs to avoid your premium being raised as a result of the home insurance inspection.

The inspector will survey both the interior and exterior of your home, to make sure everything matches the details in your insurance application. 

What to expect from an interior home inspection

Interior home inspections help insurance companies evaluate the condition of your walls, ceilings, and floors, as well as your plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems. These inspections are especially telling in older homes that may have outdated materials, or need to be brought up to new building codes if they are damaged in a covered event.

The interior portion of the inspection can also help insurers identify significant risks within your home that would not be covered by standard homeowners insurance, like pest infestations. Not every home insurance inspection includes the interior of the home, however, if you have a newer home your inspection may be limited to the outside of your home, or even just photos or video of your home.

What to expect from an exterior home inspection

In an exterior home inspection, an inspector will typically examine your home’s roof, windows and doors, chimney, and foundation. Other structures, including adjacent walkways, driveways, porches, patios and decks, may also be evaluated as part of your home’s inspection.

If there’s any sign of a threat to your property, say a low-hanging branch above your roof or a significant crack in your driveway, insurers may require you to fix those issues before they can secure coverage for your property. Home insurance inspectors will also look for “pride of ownership,” meaning they’ll check to see if your home is well-maintained and if you keep up your property.

Why do insurance companies inspect homes?

There’s no industry-wide rule that requires homes to be inspected before they can be insured, but many insurance companies will conduct an inspection to evaluate the liability and risk of insuring your home. Home inspections help insurance companies avoid potential losses that hadn’t surfaced or been disclosed during the application process. A home inspection typically checks the condition of the following structures:

Your insurance company will adjust your premium based on the results of your home insurance inspection. They may also deny you coverage or provide you with a list of mandatory repairs that need to be made before they can insure your home, like replacing old electrical wiring or trimming a tree that poses a danger to your roof. You are given a time frame, typically 30 days, within which you need to make those repairs or changes.

Can I get homeowners insurance without an inspection?

Yes, you may be able to get homeowners insurance without a home insurance inspection. If you just bought a home and it was inspected during closing, or the previous owner has had your home examined in the last year with an insurer, your home may not need to undergo another inspection. But you might be required to get one if you’re a new customer, if you live in an older home, or if your home’s replacement cost is too difficult to determine without one.

Home insurance inspection FAQs

What do home inspectors look for?

Home insurance inspectors survey your home to make sure all the details in your application were accurate. They’ll inspect the interior of your home, like your walls, plumbing, floors, electrical and HVAC systems, and more. They’ll also look at the exterior of your house, making sure everything is well-maintained, and evaluate your roof, deck, patio, and other structures on your property.

Can I refuse a home insurance inspection?

Technically yes, you can refuse a home insurance inspection, however an insurance company may refuse to cover you if you do so. Many insurance companies require home inspections in order to verify the details of your initial application, and if you don’t allow them to complete the inspection the insurer may reject your application altogether.

What would fail an inspection?

If you weren’t honest in your insurance application, like if you lied about the age of your roof, and a home inspector comes and sees that it’s in bad shape, you’ll probably fail your inspection. You may also fail your inspection if your home’s wiring is outdated or unsafe, if your deck isn’t up to safety codes, or even if you have a dying tree on your property. However, a failed inspection doesn’t mean you’re totally out of luck — many insurance companies will still insure you if you make the necessary repairs and modifications within a specific time frame, like 30 days.

Does homeowners insurance require an inspection?

Not every homeowners insurance company will require a home inspection, however many do. Insurers do this to assess the amount of risk they are taking on by insuring you, and to verify that the details of your application are accurate. Inspections also help insurers calculate an accurate price for your premiums.

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