Can My Insurance Company Force Me to Make Changes to My Property?

 

Insurance policies give insurance companies the option to inspect your property from time to time. The result of your insurance property inspection is a report to the company underwriter.

If the underwriter has concerns, they make “recommendations” to address them. This is a euphemism. These are not recommendations at all, but requirements. A “recommendation” may be as minor as fine-tuning the amount of insurance on your property (up or down); or as major as replacing the roof.

The underwriter sets a deadline for the “recommendation” to be completed. The deadline varies depending on the severity of the situation, how long they’ve insured your property, when your policy expires, and the season of year.

The Importance of Communication

The worst thing you can do is ignore an insurance company “recommendation”. Nobody likes to be Woman on Cellphoneignored; insurance underwriters dislike it more than most. It’s better to let the insurance company know your intentions, or to ask questions if you don’t understand.

Your Maine insurance agent is the link between you and the insurance company. Talk to them! They can explain the situation and advocate for you. If you are uncertain what the underwriter requires and why, ask your agent for a clarification. If you are unable to comply or need help, tell your agent. Depending on the circumstances, your agent may be able to negotiate with the underwriter for more time or for a different solution to the issue.

If the insurer’s recommendation involves physical changes to your property, they will require confirmation that you’ve made them. This usually means sending a photo of the completed change. The company may ask for a signed statement confirming that the change is permanent (such as removing a trampoline from the yard).

What Happens If You Can’t – or Won’t – Comply With Insurance Company Inspection Recommendations?

If the underwriter’s deadline passes without confirmation that the recommended changes were made, they may cancel your policy. Depending on the severity of the recommendation, they may cancel your policy within 30-45 days, or send a notice of non-renewal for when the policy expires.

When your policy is canceled or non-renewed by an underwriter, it’s very difficult to obtain replacement insurance with a preferred company. Your agent may be able to find replacement coverage, but it will probably at a higher cost and with less broad coverage.

Also, remember that you’re then a new customer with another insurance company. Now THEY may want to inspect. The cycle begins again, and it’s not always a good cycle.

If you have a question about Greater Portland Maine home or investment property insurance,  contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer you a choice of Maine’s preferred property insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.

What to Expect From a Maine Property Insurance Inspection

 

Maine home and investment property insurers routinely inspect properties that they protect. Because of more severe property insurance losses in recent years, insurers have stepped up the rate of inspections. Inspections allow them to make sure that they insure properties that fit their guidelines and that those properties are adequately protected.

Why Is the Insurance Company Inspecting My Home or Business?

Inspections are expensive for insurance companies, so they don’t perform them unless they feel it’s necessary. Often, one of three conditions can cause an underwriter to order an inspection on your property:

  1. You recently switched insurance to a new company. The new company wants to make sure that your home or business meets their underwriting requirements.
  2. You recently had a property claim. The insurance company may want to make sure that you have repaired the damage following your claim. This is especially common after a water damage loss, to avoid mold developing.
  3. You own an older property that the insurance company hasn’t inspected in several years. Over time, DIY renovations; property improvements and additions; or lack of maintenance can create situations that can increase the probability or size of an insurance claim. The insurance company wants to make sure that your policy stays up to date in case they have to pay a claim.

inspectorDo I Have to Let the Insurance Company Inspect my Home?

Every insurance policy is a contract. Each policy has an “inspection clause”, which gives the insurance company the right to inspect your property with reasonable advance notice. If you refuse, it’s a violation of the contract. The insurance company can cancel your policy as a result.

Does the Insurance Company Need to Get Inside my Home?

There are two types of insurance home and business inspections: exterior only; and interior/exterior. The company underwriter decides which report to order based upon the age and value of your property, your claim history, and other factors. Some inspectors are employees of the insurance company, but many are independent contractors.

 

 What Does the Insurance Company Inspector Look For?

Insurance Inspector Should

During a routine inspection, the inspector looks for features of your home or investment property that can affect the probability or the severity of an insurance claim. Items they typically inspect include:

  • Condition of roof, plumbing, electrical, heating and similar systems.
  • General property condition, paying particular notice to peeling paint; signs of rot; debris in the yard; and overhanging trees or vegetation close to the property. Because of an increase in deck collapse claims, insurers pay special attention to how your deck or porch is attached to the home, and its overall condition.
  • Special hazards such as dogs; trampolines;  swimming pools; or business operations.
  • Condition of any outbuildings or other structures.
  • Dimensions of structures, so they can estimate the cost to rebuild them.

What Happens After the Insurance Company Inspects My Home or Property?

The inspector sends their report to the insurance company underwriter. If no deficiencies are noted, you will probably not hear from anyone. If the underwriter has concerns, they make “recommendations” to address them. For more information about insurance recommendations and how to deal with them, read “Can My Insurance Company Force Me to Make Changes to My Property?”

If you have a question about Greater Portland Maine home or investment property insurance,  contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer you a choice of Maine’s preferred property insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.