Despite your attention to detail and professionalism, there may come a time when you make a professional mistake. Essentially, a professional liability claim alleges that a home inspector has made an error that resulted in a loss for the homeowner. Knowing the common professional liability claims can help you minimize your risk for a claim.
Here’s a closer look at common professional liability claims home inspectors face.
Many homeowners are concerned about the roof during the inspection, as it is a big-ticket item when it comes to repairs and replacement. Roof damage can also contribute to leaks, mold and interior water damage and solving these secondary problems also can be difficult and costly. If there are unexpected problems with the roof after the inspection, homeowners are likely to bring a claim.
Preventing roof claims often comes down to communication. Be sure homeowners understand that the average roof has a lifespan of only 20 to 30 years before it will need replacing and that regular maintenance checks after severe weather and periodically during the life of the roof are recommended.
Note any damaged or missing shingles, poor sealing, improper installation or wetness along framing members. If weather conditions are a factor, note inspection day conditions. Also note if you are unable to access the roof directly as a limitation of the inspection in your report.
The foundation is another item that concerns homeowners. While homeowners hope the inspection will find all existing problems, this is far from certain. Foundation moisture, leaks and water damage may not always be apparent. When evidence such as uneven floors is found, it can still be difficult for an inspector to say how serious the problem is.
Help prevent foundation claims by noting every defect in your report, no matter how small. Sloping floors, trouble opening doors and windows, drywall cracks and signs of water intrusion can all point to problems with the foundation. Photograph everything you can and be ready to explain that monitoring is key, since foundation issues can worsen over time, becoming more costly and difficult to fix.
Water Damage Claims
Homeowners claims for water damage are one of the top risks home inspectors face. Water damage may become apparent shortly after the homeowner takes possession of the home. The homeowner often assumes that the problem was present at the time of inspection and that evidence of a problem should have been detectable. However, water damage can occur without warning and evidence may be hidden behind ceilings, walls, paint, furniture, or landscaping.
Preventing your clients from making a claim for water damage by emphasizing the limitations of your inspection. Home inspectors can’t predict whether defects will reveal themselves after the inspection. Explain that you can only diagnose the state of the home on the day of the inspection and that time, weather or routine use may reveal additional defects.
Mold is another common defect that can cause anxiety for homeowners. A serious mold problem is not only difficult and costly to fix, it can also cause health problems for family members. Many homeowners aren’t aware they need an environmental evaluation by a certified mold expert to properly identify mold issues and advise on remediation, making mold another common claim.
Preventing a mold claim is possible if you are clear about the scope and limitations of your inspection. Your pre-inspection agreement should specify if a mold inspection is included or excluded. Make sure to also discuss any contract exclusions at the time of the inspection and note them in the final report. If the homeowner has concerns, advise the client to seek out a certified mold expert for a full assessment of the risks.
Professional Liability Protection
Professional liability claims can be alleged whether you have made a mistake or not. These common home defects often lead to claims even when a home inspector has done everything right, which could mean spending thousands defending against baseless claims. To protect yourself and your business, it’s important to proper insurance protection.
Professional Liability coverage from Lockton Affinity is designed to meet the risks you face as a home inspector. Our goal is to provide you with unique insurance solutions and service that stands out above the rest. With Lockton Affinity, you can ensure you and your business are protected against the most common professional liability claims faced by home inspectors.