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  1. Sorry for taking a while to get to these comments! I've been on the road quite a bit this month, so I haven't been as diligent about checking the forum! Great point! While I try to make the info in the articles as generic as possible so that it can apply to as many insurance carriers as possible, every insurer has a different set of rules. So, it's important that inspectors know what their insurance companies say about contracts and other policies. In addition, what works for your insurer may not work for your state or for other laws. A good example of this is independent contractors. At InspectorPro, we don't care if you 1099 your workers so long as they abide by the same standards. However, the IRS does! We've always required signed pre-inspection agreements, but we started making it more apparent in our paperwork around 2016. Back then, we probably got at least one call a day from inspectors that were upset it was a requirement. Now, we get maybe one call every other week about it. However, we still get plenty of claims in which the inspectors didn't get the agreement signed ahead of time. I think some of them are residual from back when we weren't banging everyone over the head about pre-inspection agreements. Then, there are others that just cave to really pushy clients or agents. In my experience, the inspectors that don't get their agreements signed are rarely doing it because they're old school or arrogant or misinformed. It's usually guys who get tired of fighting an aggressive client or agent and say they'll make an exception just this one time.
  2. Anddd I know I'm replying six months later, but in case I can still be of help to you or another TIJ reader.... @RK52: Full disclosure: I work for InspectorPro, so I AM biased. However, I hope to give you a factual rather than a salesy response so you can make an educated purchasing decision. We actually wrote an article about three important differentiators to examine when comparing insurance providers. You can find the article in the ASHI Reporter here. Now, in addressing how we compare specifically, I'd say that we at InspectorPro stand out from our competitors with our... Pre-claims assistance: No one does it like we do. We don't charge--no cost per claim, no increase to premiums. It's just free with your policy. And it's successful. Our pre-claims team stifles 85 percent of complaints before they turn into claims. Read more about how we do pre-claims assistance here. Customer service: Because the home inspection industry is a bit niche, most insurance providers don't have a team dedicated to home inspectors alone. One of the common reasons inspectors switch to us at renewal is pretty simple: We answer the phone and our emails. And we know what we're talking about, so we can be a resource for insurance, claims, and risk management questions. (Don't get me started on our risk management education. 😉) Our customer service seems to be the main talking point in our Facebook reviews. (Read them here.) Comprehensive coverage: If you read the shopping insurance article I mentioned earlier, it talks about cheap tricks that some insurance companies will play to seem as if they have lower rates. We don't do sublimits. And we don't do self-insured retentions. You get what you pay for. OREP does offer medical plans, and you don't need to carry OREP's home inspection insurance (E&O or GL) to qualify for their health insurance. For California residents, they offer plans through three carriers: Kaiser, Allied National, and United Healthcare. They also offer short-term medical coverage in a few states for people in between jobs or waiting for coverage through Allied National. Get info on OREP's medical coverage here. Now, what I don't know is whether there are any discounts associated with OREP's medical coverage. For example, if you got a quote through OREP for Kaiser, would it be cheaper? Or would you get the same rate if you went straight to Kaiser? You may have to apply to find out. Hope my belated insights help! Stephanie
  3. Hi, @Scottpat! Know it's been a while since you wrote this, but I want to make sure to set the record straight: We at InspectorPro are definitely not a club, and I don't think OREP is either. We don't write master policies that cover all of our members. There are only two companies I'm aware of that go the master policy route: BPG Inspections has had a master policy for their inspectors for quite some time. And I believe Pillar To Post has offered a master policy as an option to its members, but PTP doesn't require its inspectors to be a part of the master policy like BPG does. As for major providers, I think we deserve to be on the list. We've been selling tailor-made home inspection insurance policies for over 10 years, which is longer than many of the others you listed. 😉 Hope that helps! Stephanie
  4. (**Don't mind me responding 8-year-old posts. I just feel bad that you never got a response!) Darren, The Real Estate Services Purchasing Association is the name of the risk purchasing group (RPG) we created for our home inspection insurance program. What's a risk purchasing group? Formed in compliance with the Risk Retention Act of 1986, RPGs were created to help businesses obtain liability insurance more easily and affordably. As an insurance provider, we act as the purchasing vehicle for our insureds. Our job is to match your business needs to the best insurance carrier. (Insurance carriers—otherwise referred to as your insurance company or insurer—is the company that insures or "carries" the insurance policy providers like us give you. You can find the name of your insurance carrier on your binder or your policy.) What are the main benefits to insuring with a provider that uses an RPG? The Risk Retention Reporter, an insurance journal that focuses on topics like risk purchasing, provides a good list of advantages on their website: An example of the loss control/risk management programs they refer to would be our pre-claims assistance and our risk management education. It's a bit late, but I hope that helps! Stephanie
  5. Hi TIJ readers! Recently, a home inspector asked us: "I have a real estate agent that sometimes pays for their clients' home inspection and also signs the pre-inspection agreement. If the buyer made a claim, would the insurance company defend me even though it was the real estate agent was the one who paid for the inspection and signed the agreement?" We’ve received questions like this numerous times. So, we decided to dedicate our latest article to addressing that question. See an excerpt below. Enjoy! Stephanie *** Who can sign my pre-inspection agreement? Two years after the inspection, a multi-inspector firm received a county court summons. Within the summons, the inspection company’s former clients made a litany of allegations: Termites occupied multiple areas on the first floor, including the garage. One of the anchor plates on the basement wall was “moldy musty.” The bottom of the heating unit was rusty. Water wasn’t draining properly. There’s evidence of multiple previous fires. A master bedroom window refused to open due to foundation sinking. Other windows were letting water intrude into the house, subsequently rotting the floor below. There were four cracks “around the house.” The inspector didn’t use the correct tools for his roof inspection. To cover the supposed damages, the claimants demanded over $100,000, plus whatever additional costs the claimants incurred during the lawsuit. In their contract, the inspection company had a limitation of liability clause to put a cap on its financial responsibility for missing or omitting defects. But there was one problem: The clients never signed the pre-inspection agreement. .... In order to adequately protect inspectors against claims and preserve insurance coverage, inspectors must get their agreements signed prior to the inspection 100 percent of the time. (Hence the “pre” in pre-inspection agreement. Learn more about the legal reasons why contracts need to be signed prior to inspections here.) .... But who can sign your pre-inspection agreement? And who should? Read the full article to find out. [READ MORE]
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. @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.
  9. 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]
  10. 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]
  11. 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]
  12. 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.
  13. @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.
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