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  1. InspectorPro Insurance

    Article: Bird's-Eye View: Why home inspectors are trading apologies for drones

    Also, we just published Part 2 of the series, which focuses on mitigating risk against drone related claims. Here's a preview: Top 5 ways to protect your business from drone-related claims Last year, in an article for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Nick Gromicko, founder of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) estimated that eight percent of its 21,000 members in the United States were using drones for inspections. Now, in 2019, industry influencers suggest that that number is growing. In our last article, we talked to nine home inspectors across the nation, all of whom argue that drones provide a much-needed alternative to dismissing inaccessible roofs outright. Nevertheless, inspectors and claims professionals agree that drones aren't perfect. "If we can't get on a roof and we decide to [use] the drone, we still will set up our ladders; because then we can still check the flashing and nail spacing at the edge," said Mike McFadden of Hero Inspection Services in Florida, showcasing one of many limitations to drone inspections discussed in the previous article. To combat drones' limitations, home inspectors and claims professionals recommend taking specific precautions to mitigate your risk of drone-related claims. These safety measures include having the proper licensing and training, choosing the right equipment, having a thorough pre-flight process, setting client expectations, and carrying E&O and general liability insurance with a drone endorsement. We explore each in more detail below. Licensing and Training Licensing Since 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has required commercial drone users to obtain a remote pilot certificate (RPC), re-certify biannually, register their drone, and follow other rules. (See a summary of the comprehensive provisions instituted by Part 107 here.) To obtain an RPC, inspectors must pass a 60-question test on drone regulations and operations. Most inspectors take a class in-person or online to prepare for the exam. Jon Bolton of The Inspectagator in Florida recommends RemotePilot101.com, which covers not just the technical aspects of drone operation but airspace law. The FAA regulates airspace, restricting flights temporarily or permanently in certain areas. For example, drone-use is strictly prohibited near federally sensitive areas, such as the White House and Camp David. Additionally, drone pilots are unable to fly within five miles of most airports without giving airport operators notice. (For a general guide to airspace, see the Know Before You Fly campaign map here.) According to Paul Duffau of Safe@Home Inspections in Washington, airspace law is one of the most important liability factors affecting drone pilots. Furthermore, Duffau suggests that many home inspectors who are willfully or unintentionally aware of airspace regulations are putting their businesses at risk. "In one of my primary markets, it is illegal to lift a drone off the ground without FAA authorization or a waiver," Duffau wrote to us via email. "[Many] inspectors flying drones are doing so illegally--at least part of the time." READ MORE
  2. InspectorPro Insurance

    Article: Bird's-Eye View: Why home inspectors are trading apologies for drones

    I'll let the brokers know about the recent peak in interest in romaine insurance. 😉
  3. InspectorPro Insurance

    Article: Bird's-Eye View: Why home inspectors are trading apologies for drones

    While the introductory story mentions lack of an extension ladder, I think most home inspectors are only using drones during residential home inspections in which they cannot safely traverse the roof. Think wet roofs, heavily pitched roofs, or roofs with materials like clay tile that the inspector might damage.
  4. InspectorPro Insurance

    Article: Bird's-Eye View: Why home inspectors are trading apologies for drones

    @RK52, this is a great question. Since we're not drone experts, I can't say for certain. However, I would argue that yes, you're still subject to FAA restrictions because commercial use isn't contingent on payment. Taking it into a different context: If you performed a pool and spa inspection but didn't charge for it, would you still be subject to any state regulations regarding pool and spa inspections? I would argue that, regardless of your payment structure, you're performing the inspection in a business setting, not a recreational setting. Therefore, it's subject to commercial law. That's my two cents. If you're really curious, I'd recommend asking the home inspectors themselves in the Facebook post releasing the article here: https://www.facebook.com/inspectorproinsurance/videos/1170655219760461/. All the inspectors that participated in the article are tagged, so I'm sure they'd respond.
  5. Hi TIJ readers! When we started this article, we wanted a better understanding of the role drones play in the home inspection industry. Why are inspectors turning to drones? Are there good and bad times to use drones? And, from our claims data, what's working to protect inspectors from drone-related claims? After lots of research and talking to 10 home inspectors, we had A LOT of material. So, we decided to break the topic up into two articles. Here's Part 1 of two in our drone series. Best, Stephanie Bird's-Eye View: Why home inspectors are trading apologies for drones This is Part 1 of a two-part series on drone inspections. Be sure to tune in February 15th to learn five ways to avoid drone-related claims. Before drones gained popularity in the industry, Jon Bolton of The Inspectagator in Florida had an inspection of a two-story property. He couldn't get up on the roof without an extension ladder, and he didn't carry one. So, he called the real estate agent to tell them he would not be able to inspect the roof. The agent replied: "That's not my problem. It's yours. [The client]--he's an attorney and wants the roof looked at. And you've been paid for it." After hanging up the phone, Bolton found a friend with an extension ladder and performed the roof inspection. While he was up on the roof, he discovered some significant defects. "I was like, 'Thank you, Lord, that this whole thing happened.' Otherwise, [the client] would have moved forward, discovered the roof leaks, and been really [upset]," Bolton said. "And, [since] he's an attorney, he had the ability to make my life miserable." Since having that experience several years ago, Bolton has searched for ways to inspect otherwise inaccessible roofs. Rather than apologize for being unable to get to the roof--and running the risk of incurring the second most common type of claim in the industry--Bolton and other inspectors have begun using drones to better serve clients and manage their businesses' risk. Learn more about why home inspectors are turning to drones and the pros and cons of drone inspections by clicking "Read More" below. [READ MORE]
  6. Hi TIJ readers! Here's our latest, our first in a series of home inspector profiles in which we take a closer look at individual inspectors making an impact in the industry. Have a home inspector you'd recommend for our home inspector profile series? Let us know! Send me a message with the name of the inspector, their contact information, and how their story could inspire others. Enjoy! Stephanie For military veteran Bronson Anderson, it was difficult to transition from military service to the private world. A former infantryman in Iraq, there were not many ways in which he could apply his training back home in Virginia. That's when his father, a home inspector, made Anderson an offer he couldn't refuse: payment to ride along during jobs and see if home inspections were the right career for him. It took Anderson just a month to fall in love with property inspections. Anderson liked educating home buyers so that they were better equipped to make their purchases. Now, 18 years later, Anderson continues to enjoy passing knowledge to his inspection clients to help them better understand their future homes through his business Inspector Homes, Inc. In this article, we take a look at how Anderson has developed a successful home inspection business through communication, community, and branding. For Anderson, communication is fundamental to serving clients and managing risk. According to Anderson, it's important to know your client before you deliver information regarding your inspection findings. Knowing your client allows you to better convey inspection details in a way the client can understand. When he first arrives to a job site, Anderson begins to size his clients up by asking what he describes as "small questions." "When you're dating somebody for the first time, you ask small questions to try to get to know them: "What do you do for a living?' 'Do you have any kids?'" Anderson said. "Once I get to know them and I open that door of trust a little bit, we can communicate." Depending on the client's background, Anderson will cater his responses to their needs. A first-time home buyer may require more time and attention to explain findings. Alternatively, a client with a construction background may be more apt to understand technical jargon. "I'm giving the same information to them, but how I'm delivering that information changes," Anderson explained. According to Anderson, it's not just communicating in person that matters. Written communication, particularly in inspection reports, makes a substantial impact to how clients understand home inspections. "Your inspection isn't what comes out of your mouth; it's what goes into your report," Bronson said. Learn more about how Bronson Anderson developed his successful home inspection business by clicking "Read More" below. [READ MORE]
  7. InspectorPro Insurance

    2019 | Top 5 Claims Against Home Inspectors

    Happy New Year, inspectors! We wish you all success in 2019. To start off the new year, we wanted to revisit our earlier article on the Top 5 Claims, which we've also been addressing in the ASHI Reporter. We thought it would be helpful to share real claims from our archives so that you could see that types of allegations coming in, how they're addressed, and what you can do to protect your business. Check out an excerpt below. Best, Stephanie --- Last year, we published an infographic featuring the top five claims home inspectors face each year and what you can do to mitigate your risk. One year later, those allegations--water damage, roof issues, foundation defects, mold, and plumbing problems--continue to be common. We revisit each claim type by looking at recent claims from our archives and the lessons we can learn from each of them. 1. Water Damage A year and a few months after the inspection, a home inspector received an attorney letter demanding thousands in repair expenses. The claimants, a married couple, alleged that the home inspector failed to report significant defects to the property's front stoop. Since the inspection, water had entered the basement between the front porch and the vinyl siding, causing damage to the home. The claimants argued that they could have avoided this damage had the inspection report provided more information. By the time the inspector received the attorney letter, the claimants had already removed and replaced the stoop. The construction company that repaired the stoop had written a five-page letter on the claimants? behalf. In that letter, the company argued that the inspector had failed to perform an adequate inspection. The inspector should have noticed the "musty smell" in the basement, the company argued. He photographed but did not call out the water stains on the exterior siding, the company wrote. Lastly, the company stated, the inspector should have made recommendations to prevent future water intrusion. But the construction company's letter was inaccurate. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors' (ASHI) Standard of Practice (SOP), the home inspector was "NOT required to determine the strength, adequacy, effectiveness, and efficiency of systems and components." The home inspector was only required to report on and describe the type of materials used, which he did. Further, the home inspector identified that the owners had made repairs to the stoop. He then recommended that the claimants monitor those repairs to ensure they were sufficient. Thus, the water staining the inspector photographed and reported was redundant; the owners had already disclosed the damage, so the staining provided no basis for further action. Find out how the above claim and four others were resolved and what you can learn from them by clicking "Read More" below. [READ MORE]
  8. InspectorPro Insurance

    3 inspection photos you should take to manage your risk

    Good points, @Marc. Performing home inspections and resolving claims are different animals. While our article focuses on inspection photos, "well chosen [words]" and overall proficient inspections are also important to both inspecting and mitigating risk.
  9. InspectorPro Insurance

    3 inspection photos you should take to manage your risk

    @John Kogel, both the things you mentioned are great risk management techniques. We've seen several claims dismissed with photos not from the report itself but in the inspector's records. Similarly, the notes that we've seen home inspectors take for themselves to clarify pictures or findings have helped them remember properties 100s of inspections later.
  10. InspectorPro Insurance

    3 inspection photos you should take to manage your risk

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Fair point, @ejager, that it's not so much 3 photos as it is 3 types of photos or even methodologies. However, other than that, I think we're more on the same page than you realize. We also don't advocate further skewing client expectations by going far beyond the scope of an inspection with things like pictures of all sides of pristine appliances and unnecessary measurements of the property. Instead, we encourage home inspectors to take photos as they go that create a solid record of what the property looked like on the day of the inspection. Doing so helps them to explain and defend their inspection findings. (See @Mike Lamb, @inspector57, and @Jim Baird's replies as they are good examples of the principle we described in action.) At the end of the day, risk management is all about what you can do to protect your business. Inspection photos are one of the many avenues inspectors can and should take to mitigate risk. It's up to each individual inspector's best judgment to decide what is and isn't relevant when they're taking photos and putting them in the report. However, in our decade's worth of claims experience, we've found that home inspectors do best when they take more photos rather than less and when they have at least a few "big picture" photos and/or photos that show what they observe.
  11. Hi TJI Readers! Stephanie here with InspectorPro Insurance. We've been putting out a bunch of educational material for home inspectors, and we'd love to share it with you. You don't have to be insured with us (or insured at all) to benefit from most of the articles, which focus on risk management and business growth. Read our latest article by clicking here, or start with the excerpt below. The article discusses the power of inspection photos and suggests a few often overlooked shots you can be taking to protect your business. We even share several examples of actual claims to show how inspection photos can help stifle allegations. I'll make a point to post excerpts and links to the articles more in the future. Enjoy! Stephanie Jaynes Content Marketing Manager InspectorPro Insurance ### 3 inspection photos you should take to manage your risk In North Carolina, a home inspector performed an inspection on a property that had been vacant for about 18 months. During the home inspection, the inspector ran the water in the various fixtures, including the shower directly above the kitchen. The inspector photographed the kitchen, including the ceiling, which, at the time, showed no signs of any deficiencies. Upon moving in, the clients found a large water stain above the kitchen sink and below the master bath?s shower. The fact that the stain was dry created some suspicion as to how long the stain had been present. The claimants alleged that the stain must have been there all along. However, the inspection photos showed the exact area now exhibiting a water stain. The photos revealed that there was no staining at the time of the inspection. It was possible that the shower test caused the water damage. However, the inspector could not be responsible for the damage caused during the course of normal inspection operations. In case you haven?t heard it enough, here?s the old adage again: A picture is worth 1,000 words. In an industry like home inspections, photos can do wonders. They can help inspection clients understand your findings and put them into context. They can bring reports filled with descriptions laced with technical jargon to life. .... In this article, we go over a few of the essential but often overlooked inspection photos you should take at your inspections. While not technically exhaustive, this list serves as a reminder of what a powerful risk management tool inspection photos can be. After all, one of these inspection photos could help you stifle a claim. [READ MORE]