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Hi TIJ readers! Hope you're all enjoying the summer inspection season. Our latest article was inspired by a question we that kept coming up at shows and on the phone: I know that E&O and GL can protect my business against claims. But is there a type of insurance that can protect my business from loss or damage to all the expensive equipment I use? The answer is yes. Equipment coverage, otherwise known as inland marine insurance or a property floater, is an add-on coverage that protects your tools and equipment. Check out the preview below to start learning what the coverage entails, how it works, and what happens when you have a claim. Best, Stephanie How to protect your tools and equipment Earlier this year, one of our insured home inspectors sent his radon monitor in for calibration. When the servicing was complete, the manufacturer shipped the monitor back to the home inspector. But, when the inspector returned home, the radon monitor was nowhere to be found. The inspector put in a claim with the radon monitor manufacturer, who subsequently put in a claim with the shipping company. Both the manufacturer and the shipping company denied any liability or coverage for the loss. So, the home inspector filed a police report with his county's Sheriff's Department and contacted us, his insurance provider, to see if we could cover the lost radon monitor. What is equipment coverage? Formally known as inland marine coverage or a commercial property floater, equipment coverage insures your inspection tools and equipment. Unlike standard property insurance, inland marine coverage protects your tools and equipment regardless of their location. This is important in the home inspection industry since, rather than housing your tools and equipment in an office, you usually have your materials in your work vehicle or on inspection sites. In most cases, equipment coverage for home inspectors reimburses you for the actual cash value (not the cost of the items brand-new) of your stolen or damaged equipment or tools. Oftentimes, coverage extends to not just items you own but items you lease or rent. Most home inspection tools and equipment are eligible for inland marine insurance endorsements. Examples of typical inland marine insurance claims include: Someone burglarizes your locked inspection vehicle and swipes your drone. As you're taking inspection photos, you trip and drop your digital camera, breaking the lens. While inspecting the roof, someone steals your infrared camera, which you left at the base of your ladder. Someone takes your leased radon monitor from where you left it overnight on the inspection site. While taking off, you lose control of your drone and crash it to the ground, damaging the wings and internal computer. Many equipment insurance policies cover physical loss or damage caused by perils, such as falling objects, fire, lightening, sink hole collapse, vandalism, vehicles, and water damage. To see what perils are and are not covered, review the Conditions and Definitions sections of your inland marine policy. How does equipment coverage work? Typically, equipment coverage is subject to your "schedule of coverages," which describes the property you'd like the insurance company to insure. Most insurance companies require that inspectors provide property descriptions?including the make, model, and serial number?for any items worth more than a certain amount. Here at InspectorPro, we require property descriptions for any items worth $500 or more. For any items worth less than $500, InspectorPro insureds may still cover the property as "miscellaneous tools" without providing make, model, and serial information for each tool. The only caveat is that miscellaneous tools cannot exceed $2,500 in total value. [READ MORE]
Hi TIJ Readers! Wondering how you can better prevent claims? Or what it would be like to have a claim? To try to help answer these questions, we publish details from actual home inspection insurance claims every few months. We hope you enjoy our latest case study. Best, Stephanie The Sinking Yard: A Home Inspection Insurance Claim The following is a real home inspector case study from our insurance claim archives. In order to protect the insured's identity, all identifiable characteristics?including names, associations, and locations?have been omitted or removed. "You have been sued. You may employ an attorney. If you or your attorney do not file a written answer with the clerk who issued this citation by 10:00 a.m. on the Monday next following the expiration of twenty days after you were served this citation and petition, a default judgment may be taken against you." That was how home inspector Nathan Cross' letter from the state began. According to the state, former home inspection clients Patrick and Miranda Spence were suing Cross and the sellers for "deceptive trade practices," "breach of contract," "economic and actual damages," and "intentional damages by omissions." The Complaint Unbeknownst to Cross, the property used to have a swimming pool. The sellers had filled the pool in and covered it up prior to putting the house on the market. The sellers did not disclose the pool's existence to either the Spences nor Cross. So, when Cross performed his inspection, there were no visible signs of a pool in the backyard, nor were there any visible defects. Thus, Cross' inspection report did not indicate any issues in the backyard. About a year after the inspection, indentations began to appear in the backyard. Upon investigating the property's tax records, the Spences discovered that a pool had existed prior to them moving in. (The covered pool was not in the sellers' disclosure.) They surmised that the sellers must have improperly filled the pool, which led to developing indentations. Now, a full year and a half after Cross' inspection, the Spences were taking legal action. The Spences demanded "monetary relief of $100,000 or less, including damages of any kind, penalties, costs, expenses, pre-judgment interest, and attorney fees." [READ MORE]
Hi TIJ Readers! Here's a preview of our latest article, which covers the ins and outs of workers' comp for home inspectors. Enjoy! Stephanie Several months ago, we were reviewing a home inspector's workers' compensation policy. Unbeknownst to that home inspector, their insurance carrier wasn't familiar with the property inspection industry. Despite their lack of experience in the inspection space, the carrier didn't want to turn the home inspector away. Instead, the insurance company categorized (or grouped) the home inspector in what they perceived to be the closest type of business they already insured: window blind installation. With a window blind installer's workers' comp policy, the home inspection business lacked coverage for many of the unique risks their employees faced. For example, since there's no need for a window installer to mount a roof, the home inspection company didn't have coverage in case their employees fell off an inspection property's roof. Thus, by pairing up with a workers' compensation provider unfamiliar with their business, the home inspection company's needs were not being met. What is workers' compensation insurance? Since 2050 B.C., governments have granted sick and injured laborers payment after workplace accidents. Ancient Greek, Roman, Arab, and Chinese law all dictated precise payments for both bodily impairments and disabilities. Thus, their legislation laid the foundation for the workers' compensation insurance we have today. (For more on workers' comp's history, see Gregory P. Guyton's "A Brief History of Workers' Compensation" or AmTrust Financial's summary "The History of Workers' Compensation Insurance".) Workers' compensation insurance provides employees who suffer from work-related injuries or diseases with access to medical and wage benefits. Unlike general liability (GL) insurance, which covers inspection-related bodily injury and property damage claims for non-employees, workers' compensation looks out for people who work for your company. By covering job-related injury and illness costs, workers' comp protects both employees and employers. Employees work under less financial risk knowing they're protected on the job. Additionally, employers limit their liability and deter litigation. Recognizing the need for workers' comp in the home inspection industry, we launched our own workers' compensation insurance program in June 2019. In this article, we go over some of the common questions inspectors do (and should!) ask when shopping for a workers' comp policy. We hope that the information outlined here can help you make an educated workers' comp purchase with us or another provider. [READ NOW]
Hey TIJ Readers! Long time since I last posted. National Home Inspection Month was a busy one for us with our funny home inspection story contest and our first-ever guest-written article. (You can read the top stories from the contest here and Randy's article here.) Since so many of our articles focus on errors and omissions issues, we decided it was time to share a story from our archives that addressed a general liability problem. What makes this one interesting, too, is that it addresses not only the power of pre-claims assistance but the power of a well-written report. You can read the full story on our website here. Or, feel free to check out that preview below. Have a great rest of your inspection week! Stephanie How one inspection report saved thousands of dollars The following is a real home inspector general liability pre-claim from our archives. The inspector has given us permission to reveal his identity and to use direct quotes from our post-pre-claim interview. Pre-claims assistance is exactly what it sounds like: It's free help responding to unhappy clients in a way that may prevent said clients from making any demands. Here at InspectorPro, we define a claim as a written demand for money, which Latham had yet to receive. However, for readers who don't insure with us yet, do keep in mind that every insurance company is unique and definitions can vary. Be sure to read a copy of your policy to be sure of how your company defines a claim. To learn more about pre-claims assistance, read this recent article. The cracked tile While performing a routine home inspection in Oregon, Aaron Latham of Sunrise Inspection, Inc. made what he described as "a very rookie mistake." He set a round, metal flashlight on top of the property's kitchen island. As round objects do, the flashlight rolled off the island. It hit the ground and put a hairline crack in one of the tiles. Realizing that he'd made a mistake, Latham documented both the existing tiles that were cracked and the one tile he cracked with his flashlight in his inspection report. Shortly after purchasing the house?for several thousand dollars less than the asking price due to inspection findings, according to the real estate agent?the agent called about the tile. Latham agreed that he did, in fact, damage one tile, and asked the agent to obtain an estimate. At the time, Latham guessed that they'd quote about $100. "Well, here's the issue," the agent said. "We can't find tile that matches the existing tile, and the seller didn't have any spare tile on hand. What we were hoping is that you would replace the entire floor." That's when Latham called our pre-claims assistance team. [READ MORE]