Home insurance inspection

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 photo

Stephanie Nieves

Published November 3, 2020

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 proof of any design work and renovations

Home insurance inspections aren’t always necessary for purchasing a home insurance policy, but many companies may require you to get one as part of the underwriting process. During a home insurance inspection, an inspector may examine your home’s exterior, including your roof, windows, and frames, as well as your home’s interior and other structures on your property.

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.

What is a home insurance inspection?

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.

Not to be confused with a buyer’s inspection which happens before a home is bought, home insurance inspections happen after you already own a home and 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. But in a home insurance inspection, insurance companies can use the results of an inspection to adjust your policy premium.

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:

  • Roof
  • Plumbing system
  • HVAC system
  • Electrical systems
  • Gutters
  • Chimney and fireplace
  • Fencing
  • Siding
  • Basement
  • Stairwell
  • Floors, walls, and ceiling
  • Anti-theft devices
  • Fire alarms and extinguishers

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.

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How to prepare for a home insurance inspection

Your home is likely to be inspected during the insurance underwriting process, so to get ahead of things you should have documentation that lists:

  • The square footage of your home
  • Costs for interior design work and renovations
  • Information about your alarm systems and security features
  • Updates to your roof, plumbing, and HVAC systems

You should also conduct an informal inspection at home 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.

Interior 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.

Exterior 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.

Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves

Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has a B.A. in writing and rhetoric and previously worked as an SEO & Editorial Associate. Her words can also be found on PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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