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Corin Cook

By: Corin Cook on July 21st, 2021

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What to Expect from a MA Insurance Home Inspection

Individuals & Families | Home Insurance

So … you’re closing on a home. Your offer has been accepted, your mortgage secured, you have applied for home insurance, and you have had a detailed foundation-to-roof inspection of the entire home.

But then your insurance company contacts you and tells you they need to inspect your property.

You already had an inspection, so you might be confused wondering what this is all about. 

Don’t worry, this happens all the time. Many people don’t realize there is actually a second inspection you will need: one for insurance.

In fact, when some homeowners get a notification that an inspector is coming, they wonder if it is legitimate, or if it is some kind of scam.

Well, as an insurance agency who issues home insurance policies to hundreds of MA homeowners, we can tell you it isn’t a scam (although, if you are hesitant and want to confirm the legitimacy of the inspector, you can of course reach out to your insurance agent).

In this article, we’ll explain the purpose of these inspections and let you know what to expect from one.

Insurance inspections help make sure you have the right insurance

When buying a new home, once your home insurance policy is in place, the insurance carrier will set up an inspection of your home. 

They do this for multiple reasons, but the main reason is to make sure you have the right amount of insurance.

When getting a quote, your insurance agent determines the replacement cost of your home by using a cost estimator tool. This tool takes into account several factors to determine the amount of dwelling coverage you need on your home. 

By checking out the home in person, your insurance carrier is ensuring that the number the cost estimator came up with is in fact accurate and you have the right amount of coverage -- not too much or too little.

They are essentially making sure that everything listed on your insurance application is accurate, and that nothing is left out.

In most cases, all will come back as expected, but if the inspector finds anything that wasn’t caught by the cost estimator tool, you may need to go back to your insurance agent and adjust your dwelling limits.

Insurance inspections will help identify risks

While performing the inspection, the inspector will also be analyzing your liability risk, and coming up with suggestions to reduce that risk.

Your insurance carrier doesn’t want an accident to occur on your property, and they certainly don’t want to have to pay for the accident if you ever have to file a claim.

To help mitigate that risk, they will check for attractive nuisances and any sort of dangers, and notify you if there is anything you can do to make your property safer. 

In some cases, your insurance company will require you to make some fixes, but we’ll get into that more below.

Insurance inspections are less thorough than traditional inspections

When you conducted your real estate home insurance inspection before you closed on your home, it was probably quite thorough. A good inspector will inspect every nook and cranny of your home, sometimes taking hours to make sure you are aware of all potential issues with your home.

Insurance inspections however, are typically much less thorough. Like we mentioned, they are mainly looking to confirm you have enough insurance, and to evaluate any glaring liability issues.

They will not be checking every single detail of your home like they did on the real estate home inspection, and instead will just take a quick peek.

In fact, they may not even need to come inside! Often with newer houses, the inspectors will just do a brief exterior inspection to make sure everything is as expected. In older houses however, they may want to browse inside as well.

In fact, you might not even know your insurance inspector is coming

If your insurance carrier is only requiring an outdoor inspection, you may not have to attend, and you may not even be notified.

Since they don’t need to be let into the house, the inspector will often stop by and walk around the outside on their own time. If this is the case for you, you’ll usually find a notification on your door that they were there and completed the inspection.

Insurance inspections are free (and can even save you money)

Because these inspections are a requirement through the insurance company, you shouldn’t expect to have to pay for it.

In fact, an insurance inspection can save you money! While the inspectors are there, they will be paying attention to some home details that could make you eligible for discounts.

This could include discounts for features such as home alarm or security systems.

For more information about ways to save, check out this article: Ways to Save on Homeowners Insurance (Home Insurance Tips and Discounts).

How to prepare for an insurance inspection

In most cases, you don’t need to do too much preparation for your insurance inspection.

Like we said, the inspection is usually brief, and you often don’t even have to be there if it is only exterior. Plus, your insurance carrier should already have all the information about your home from the quoting process.

However, if it is an interior inspection, there is a chance the inspector might have some questions.

To be prepared, it wouldn’t hurt to have information about your home ready, including documentation of square footage, materials, renovations, and a list of updates to plumbing, heating, electrical systems, the roof or windows.

You should also have information about any home alarm or security systems (since these can get you a discount on your insurance).

After your insurance inspection

In most cases, insurance home inspections are pretty straight forward and don’t yield any action items. The questions collected during your home insurance quoting process are pretty detailed, so it’s rare for inspections to reveal anything the insurance application didn’t.

However, the inspector could provide you with some recommendations to make your home safer, which will help you avoid liability claims.

In some cases these are recommendations, but often the insurance carrier will require you to fix the identified issues in order to maintain your insurance coverage. 

Some of these situations we have seen this happen for include dry rot, railings missing from stairs, tree branches hanging over roof or on siding, excessive debris, peeling paint/exposed wood, and sheds in poor conditions.

Keep up to date even after inspection

Insurance inspections are one of the final steps in getting a new home. Once the inspection is done, you can feel confident the house you have closed on is properly insured.

But not so fast! Just because your insurance may be all up to date after your inspection doesn’t mean it will stay up to date. Things change within your home and family all the time, so your insurance needs to reflect it.

If you have any changes to your property, be sure to contact your insurance agent to see if your insurance needs any changes. Otherwise, you should also be reviewing your home insurance policy (and other personal insurance policies) annually upon renewal to make sure everything is up to date and you are adequately covered.

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