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.
Updated July 2, 2021|5 min read
Table of Contents
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.
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
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.
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.
Ready to shop home insurance?
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:
The square footage of your home
Costs for any recent 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 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.
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.
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.
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:
Chimney and fireplace
Floors, walls, and ceiling
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.
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.
If you're not sure whether your home needs a new inspection, ask the insurance broker or agent you're working with about whether it's necessary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It can take anywhere from minutes to a few days to buy a homeowners insurance policy. Your homeowners application can take a couple days to process, and your insurer might require a home inspection.
If you’re a first time homebuyer, make sure you begin shopping for home insurance well in advance of your closing date. This will give you enough time to evaluate your coverage needs and compare quotes with multiple companies.