While there is a lot of abstract talk about home inspections in the world of insurance claims, clients are oftentimes interested in knowing what exactly is going to be inspected. By learning the basics, the prospect of an inspection, no matter the kind, becomes much less intimidating.
To start, the inspection must be scheduled at a date and time that suits all parties involved. While the involvement of a lawyer in your claim generally means that you will not be the one directly coordinating with your insurance company, going it alone may require direct correspondence with your adjuster. It is important that you are home during the agreed upon time or window of time. Not only do you need to let your insurer in, but it is favorable to utilize this time to voice any concerns or repair updates whose backstories are not immediately visible. In rarer cases, a representative from your insurance company may show up unexpectedly. While you may not have time to consult your policy in an abrupt scenario, keep in mind that there is quite possibly fine print indicating that you must let them in if you are home to do so. However, do not hesitate to ask the individual for identification. In the aftermath of a storm, predatory vendors will be hovering, waiting for their chance to introduce themselves to you as an employee of your insurance company when they are no such person.
Once all parties are inside, what transpires is dependent upon the mission. One kind of homeowners insurance inspection aims to capture the necessary value of home repairs before a claim is even opened. Ultimately, what is being determined is if your policy is appropriate for you home. These inspections are known as insurance adjusting or insurance appraisal (as opposed to real estate appraisal, which takes market value into consideration). The inspector will start by taking their own measurements to make sure the square footage recorded on public record is accurate. Further, they will ask you about the age of appliances, your furnaces, and so on. From there, matters will get more hands-on as they inspect the state of the roof, chimney, and gutters, as well as water hookups. Basically, there is a search for any glaring potential for liability. Once a report is completed, your insurer will determine if more insurance is necessary.
The other kind of insurance inspection occurs after a claim has been made. In this case, the aim is to validate the existence and extent of a claim. These inspections can vary slightly depending on the kind of claim, but this goal remains at the heart of all matters. If a home is completely eliminated due to a catastrophe like a fire, an inspection will be conducted quickly and thoroughly as this claim, if valid, will likely employee policy limits. Fires or theft may result in an inspection more like a police walk-through in order to prove that the event was not premeditated or fabricated. Nearly all claim-related inspections will involve a good deal of documentation. For roof claims, this means photographing shingles and measuring any hail-related bruises or abrasions. For flood claims, this means photographing flooring damage and measuring damaged drywall. All of these findings will be compiled into a report that will serve as an integral component in determining how much compensation you will be issued. Don’t be caught off guard if a secondary inspection is requested long after the initial survey. The progress of repairs and developmental damage (ex. mold) also needs to be documented.
While knowledge of what insurance inspections entail can make you feel empowered, you still run the risk of encountering surprises. Inspectors may fail to examine the full extent of the damage, or, in the extreme, may botch an examination in such a way that makes it look like the incident occurred due to your malintent. As a result, it is wise to have a lawyer present at an inspection to ensure integrity. If you are not happy with an inspection or it did not reflect the above description, legal counsel can orchestrate a second opinion. Because your insurance rates and claims are so contingent upon inspections, it is crucial they are done accurately.