How to Pass a 4 Point Home Insurance Inspection
A 4-point inspection is often required by home insurance companies to understand the risk of insuring a home. They are most common for homeowners trying to get a new policy for an older home. However, some insurers make them mandatory for newer homes, as well.
What is a 4 Point Home Inspection?
Four-point inspections check the age and condition of plumbing, HVAC, electrical systems, and the roof of a home. The home inspector provides an inspection report that tells the insurance company whether your home is too risky to insure. A failing grade typically means you must make all necessary repairs before you get home insurance coverage.
4-point inspections are for insurance purposes only. It is important to note that a 4-point inspection is not the same as a full home inspection or a real estate buyer's inspection. If you are buying a home, a real estate inspection is a wise choice as it provides a full view of potential problems. It is also not the same as a wind mitigation inspection.
6 Common Reasons Homes Fail 4 Point Inspections
Some of the most common reasons that insurance companies deny coverage -- all of which come with a hefty price tag -- include:
- The roof is near or beyond its life expectancy or is damaged
- Aluminum wiring or knob and tube wiring are present
- There is no central heat and air
- The water heater is more than 18 years old
- Plumbing is polybutylene
- The electric panel is a non-insurable brand, such as Federal Pacific or Zinsco
If your insurer requires a 4-point inspection, and you fail your 4-point inspection, find a licensed contractor to get your home up to par and have the assessment redone.
Steps to Take to Pass Your 4 Point Inspection
The following information is an overview of the inspection and steps you can take to pass the inspection. We recommend checking these four home systems before hiring an inspection company.
You can do it yourself or, better yet, ask for a free or low-cost pre-inspection from a contractor. If you know you need to make repairs, most contractors will offer a free estimate. To complete the estimate, they will need to review each area. You can even give them a form to follow and ask them to share their estimates for each point on the form.
There are two primary parts of the electrical system that need attention.
- The Electric Panel
Check your electrical panel's manufacturer and determine if your insurance carrier covers that brand. Insurable brands vary between insurance companies, so just because one will not cover your brand does not necessarily mean others will not.
If your insurance company does not cover your brand, call around to determine if another insurance company does. However, some brands, especially Federal Pacific (FPE), are rarely insured. FPE panels fail to trip in many cases and lead to thousands of fires every year. This fact makes these electrical panels too risky for insurers to cover.
If you own an FPE or another uninsurable brand, you will most likely have to replace it to pass the inspection. Also, the following are a few other things to check on your panel:
● Your breakers need to be from the same company as your panel to pass.
● There should be no empty spaces where a cover plate or breaker should be.
● Your legend should clearly state which breaker controls each area.
● There should be no visible aluminum wire branch circuits.
● Electrical wiring should include no double taps or any other improper wiring.
● Wiring should comply with current local building codes. As these vary between locations and are updated regularly, you should call your local housing inspector or a contractor for specifics.
- Switches, Wiring, Outlets, and More
● Ensure all your smoke detectors are in proper working condition and that you have -- at a minimum -- one in each bedroom, hallway, garage, and kitchen.
● Be sure all outlets and switches have cover plates.
● Though not required by law, many insurers only cover homes with GFCI receptacles in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens. Ask your insurer for details.
● Ensure that there are no exposed wires visible anywhere.
***Important: Electrical systems can be deadly. It is always best to have a licensed electrician take care of any electrical issues to protect your home, family, and yourself.
The inspector checks the following:
- The condition of the systems, both heating and cooling must be up to par. If they meet current heating ventilation and air conditioning code requirements, that is a win.
- If you have central heat and air conditioning, and if it is working correctly. Some insurance companies do not insure homes that do not.
- What fuels your HVAC system as this can impact a home's fire risk
- Whether or not you had it professionally installed. If it was not, you might not be able to obtain homeowners insurance.
Insurance companies want to know that there is no current water damage or imminent threat of such in your home, as that can lead to substantial water damage claims. Following are the three main concerns when checking your plumbing:
- Some pipes, such as copper or polybutylene, are known for bursting if they get too cold. If you have pipes such as these, you will likely have to replace them to get insurance. Some insurance companies might still insure you if you sign a waiver for water damage.
- The inspector will look for water leaks around drains, washing machine hoses, valves, sinks, and water supply lines. They will take pictures of any potential or previous water damage. The best way to pass this step is to check for leaks yourself, tighten any hoses, and paint over any prior water damage you have already repaired.
- Your water heater will be checked for leaks, whether any attached wiring is in a protective conduit, the age, and the overall condition. Be sure to remove anything blocking the water heater so it is entirely accessible for your inspector. And if you know it is in terrible shape, consider replacing it before your inspection.
Insurers want to know that your roof is in good shape and has plenty of years left to go. The inspector must add the following to the inspection form:
- Age of the roof; it is uninsurable if it is 20 years or older
- Any damaged flashings
- Any missing, curling, or lifting shingles
- Any additional damage
Checking these things for yourself can tell you if your roof needs work, but do not try to climb up on your roof alone. Instead, either have a roofing contractor check it or climb into your attic to see if you notice any leaks or holes.
The One Best Strategy to Pass Your 4 Point Inspection
If you do only one thing to pass your 4 point inspection, this is what we recommend. For the best results, have a knowledgeable licensed contractor come to your home for a pre-inspection. They can help you determine what you need to address before your inspection, and many provide free or low-cost consultations and estimates.
Hope that helps!
At your service,