Professional home inspections occur in conjunction with the sale of a home and reveal the current condition of the house. Along with the buyer and the buyer’s agent, a home inspector does a walk-through of the home. Home inspectors are professionally trained to identify issues with a home and may suggest recommendations for improvement.
Unfortunately, home inspectors aren’t perfect, and many home issues are difficult to see or detect. It’s important for home inspectors to protect themselves in the event a dispute or claim arises from an inspection. It is estimated that 80% of claims against home inspectors have no merit. However, homeowners will often make claims against home inspectors when they are unable to resolve a dispute with other parties (seller, agent, etc.). A home inspector should go through proper training and consider certification through the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). EliteMGA can provide Errors and Omissions insurance to a home inspector. It protects the home inspector against particular losses that originate due to the oversight on the part of the inspector. What are the top claims against home inspectors?
Claims Against Home Inspectors
- Water Damage: This is the number one issue in home inspections and can occur anywhere in the house. Water can leak around dishwashers, tubs, water heaters, and sinks. Water damage will leave stains or discoloration on surfaces. Attics and basements allow water in through vents and cracks, sometimes appearing in walls and ceilings. Water damage may also occur from leaky or corroded pipes.
- Roof Issues: A typical roof lasts 20 – 30 years. Bad weather and poor construction may contribute to roof problems. A roof protects the home, and if shingles are missing or broken, water may leak into an attic and walls. Flat roofs cause water to pool versus running off, also leading to water damage and leaks inside and out.
- Foundation Defects: Foundation issues can be quite costly to repair. Problems with foundations include cracks, mold, uneven flooring, and space between walls, doors, and ceilings. Wet soil around the foundation indicates a possible water issue. Older homes may have used cinder block which has a tendency to crack. Issues with foundations may also occur due to poor workmanship or negative grading (water flows toward the house). Foundations may be difficult to inspect due to small areas and crawl spaces (this should be documented by a home inspector).
- Mold: Moisture causes mold to grow, and it exists in every home. Mold causes an unpleasant, musty odor and is associated with numerous health problems. A mold may be present by leaky doors and windows due to condensation. Because of excessive moisture in bathrooms, they are the most likely location for black mold to grow. Walls and ceilings may have mold from water damage. Basements may contain mold around pipes, foundation, and ducts. Home inspectors should not attempt a mold inspection if they are not certified.
- Plumbing Problems: Pipes are often misidentified during a home inspection. Some pipes are more durable, preventing corrosion and bursts. It’s important to correctly identify the types of pipes in the home. Leaks also create plumbing issues but may be difficult to spot because pipes are often hidden. Water spots and stains around plumbing fixtures may indicate a plumbing leak.
How can home inspectors protect themselves?
- Get a pre-inspection agreement signed before the inspection occurs. An agreement defines areas of inspection, limits liability, and assists with dispute resolution.
- Explain inspection procedures and set realistic expectations about what is and isn’t covered during an inspection. Expectations should be discussed on the phone call when the inspection is set up. Review expectations again in person and in writing (pre-inspection agreement).
- Document findings with a lot of photos. Make sure to include close-up and wide-angle photos. The photos are proof of what was uncovered during the inspection.
- Obtain errors and omissions insurance. It will protect a home inspector against claims and disputes. Legal costs and damages can be financially devastating to an uninsured home inspector.
EliteMGA and InterNACHI have created an exclusive insurance program available only to InterNACHI members. It’s designed to save money while effectively managing the risks of a home inspection professional.
EliteMGA provides reviews of inspection contracts for the insured’s in the InterNACHI program and we give them new contracts where we can’t fix their existing contract.
EliteMGA protects professional home inspectors in the event of neglect or alleged human error during an inspection that lead to damage to a client’s home or injury to an individual within the home. If you’re a home inspector and would like a quote on errors and omissions insurance coverage, or if you want to learn more about the benefits of this type of coverage, check out our insurance policies or contact us anytime.