When you take out a homeowners insurance policy, it’s a common practice for the insurance company to send an inspector over to your house to check on its condition. If your roof is in bad shape or you have a tree on your property that looks like it’s seen better days, the insurance company may require a new roof or removal of the tree before agreeing to insure your home.
If you fail your homeowners insurance inspection, you’re not necessarily out of luck. Your insurance company may still insure you provided you make repairs within a specific time frame — usually 30 days, but potentially longer.
But if a company refuses to insure your home because of its condition, you’ll need to find a different company willing to take on the risk. Keep in mind that homeowners insurance is required by your mortgage lender, so if you fail your inspection or you’re nonrenewed by your current company, you’ll need to find a replacement policy before your coverage lapses.
Why does my homeowners insurance company want to inspect my house?
After you get approved for homeowners insurance, you can expect an inspection to take place within 60 days of the policy start date.
The extent of the inspection will vary depending on the location and age of your home. In many cases, the insurer will only conduct an exterior inspection of the property, as they’re largely concerned with the condition of the roof and any identifiable risks, such as dead trees or foliage in a high wildfire risk area.
If you’re insuring an older home, the insurer will likely conduct an interior inspection as well to check on the condition of the plumbing, electrical, and other systems in your home.
The purpose of the inspection is generally twofold:
To ensure the accuracy of information you submitted in the application
To verify that the property meets the insurance company’s underwriting requirements
Homeowners insurance companies don't always send inspectors to every recently insured home (even though they're technically supposed to), so it's possible to get homeowners insurance without an inspection, but don't count on that being the case.
What happens if you don’t pass your homeowners insurance inspection?
If you fail your homeowners insurance inspection, the insurer will likely take one of three actions:
They’ll cancel your policy or deny you coverage
They’ll insure your home but exclusions will apply. For example, if your roof fails the inspection, the insurer may still insure your home but exclude your roof from coverage, meaning they won’t pay out for damage in the event of a claim
They’ll cover you if you make repairs or renovations to the property
If the problems with your home are minimal or require small fixes, the homeowners insurance company will likely agree to cover your home so long as repairs or the issue is resolved within 30 days.
The requirements may be even less drastic than that. For example, if your electrical wiring is in questionable shape, it’s possible the insurance company will simply ask for a letter from an electrician stating that your electrical is in good working order.
How to get homeowners insurance after a failed inspection
If your homeowners insurance is canceled or you’re denied coverage because of the condition of your home, or because you own a certain breed of dog that the insurer considers a liability hazard, you’ll need to shop around and find a company willing to take on the risk.
There are many high-risk homeowners insurance options, such as surplus or excess carriers (insurance companies not admitted with the state) or government FAIR Plans that are fine last-resort options if you need coverage to satisfy your mortgage but can’t afford to make repairs that meet standard underwriting requirements.
If you’re denied coverage due to the liability risk associated with your dog’s breed, worry not, there are several standard insurance companies that accept all dog breeds. Dog-friendly homeowners insurance companies include AIG, Chubb, State Auto, and Safeco.
How to prepare for a homeowners insurance inspection
If you were recently approved for homeowners insurance or your current policy is up for renewal and it’s been a few years since your last inspection, your insurer will likely send an inspector over to your home. Normally the insurance company will inform you of the impending inspection but won’t say when it will happen. This is so that you don’t hide anything and they can see the actual condition of the property.
However, there are a few things you can do to help ensure you pass the inspection and get much needed financial protection for your home.
Clear dead and dry foliage from your property
If you live in a wildfire-prone area, the insurance company will pay close attention to the area surrounding your home and check for any potential tinder. Dried leaves in your gutter, dried grass, large tree branches, and dead foliage are all considered fire hazards that may result in a failed homeowners insurance inspection. Prior to the inspection, make sure to clear your property of any potential hazards — doing so can potentially lower your rates as well.
Check for any liability hazards
In addition to inspecting property risk, the insurance company will also check for liability hazards. A trampoline without netting or a swimming pool with a broken safety fence could both cause you to fail your inspection. Be sure to take care of any liability concerns before the inspector arrives.
Check the electrical and plumbing
If you live in an older home, your insurance company will likely inspect the electrical for fire hazards and the plumbing for potential water damage. If your electrical wiring is frayed or your plumbing is leaky, you might want to get that fixed for the sake of both insurance and your own safety.