Friday, December 17, 2010

Every Home, Every Year Part II - What do they look for?

If you read the first post, Every Home, Every Year, I touched on a couple of things your home inspector will look for like vicious dogs, bad roofs, etc.

So, what else do they look for?

Well, every underwriter has different types of things they want to look at. Most common are:

Remodels or renovation in progress - Many homes on the market today are bank repos. These types of homes sometimes require some work, replacing carpet, paint, tile, etc. To an inspector, this is a red flag. To the underwriter, it means additional exposure to claims. The house is a target for thieves since you are probably not able to live there with so much work going on at one time. There is a greater chance of someone getting hurt on the property, a worker, a nosy neighbor looking around, kids thinking it's a great place to play. You could get sued by the injured person since it happen on your property. That means you face the potential of a liability claim against your policy.

Debris - I know moving can be hectic. Were did we pack my clothes for tomorrow? Do we want the hutch on that wall, or this one? Did some one get beer? When an inspector shows up at a property, typically you are done moving in. But what about all the boxes on the back porch? Unwanted furniture still in the driveway, a car that has not run in years sitting in the back yard, broken refrigerator out front with the door off. All these things make it look to an underwriter that you are not going to take care of the home. Their logic is that if you won't take care of the outside of your home, that means a major claim, like that leaking pipe under the sink will get ignored until it floods the kitchen, causes mold and is a major repair job.

Overgrown landscaping - Many policies require you to have pride of ownership and maintain the property. Bushes covering windows, tree limbs hanging over the roof, your dog lays down in the yard and you have to make 'em get up to find 'em. To an underwriter it looks like you are not taking care of the property, with all the over growth you have an increased fire exposure and if the winds moved those branches over the roof, you could easily have a leak come rainy season.

Hazards on the property - So you work for the bomb squad and sometimes bring work home. Seriously though, welding tanks, construction materials,  landscaping supplies, large amounts of chemicals like fertilizer and solvents, etc. can all be potential claims, increase your fire risk and can cause injury to you and your neighbors. There are companies out there that will insure you, but you could end up paying more for a commercial policy. Keep it at work, stored properly of course.

Dogs - I know, I've already touched on this. Dogs are an issue since certain breeds do have a higher number of claims and tend to bite folks. This means a claim on your home owners because "Fluffy the pit bull"  bit Johnny when he walked too close to your fence and now Johnny's parents are suing you for medical bills. We all want good guard dogs, companions, a friend. If you have a pet or are going to get one, talk to you insurance agent or read your policy to find out which breeds they will not cover.

Remember, the carrier is not picking on you. They are not saying you are a bad house keeper, negligent dog owner or can't put in new tile. They want your business. If they did not, they would be out of business. They are trying to look out for you. If you can fix a few things yourself and maintain the property you can have your pick of carriers since your risk of a claim is lower. That means not having to settle for just one or two carriers that have really high rates because no one else will cover you after you filed 4 claims in 2 years. Insurance is there when you need it, but by doing your part, you will keep costs down and have more options.

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