Every new home insurance policy is followed by an inspection. The purpose of the inspection is to determine if the home truly meets the underwriting guidelines of the insurance company. My role as an independent insurance agent is to be the first level underwriter and confirm the home will pass the inspection so I ask questions to make sure I’m placing the home with the best carrier.
Most of the home policies I write usually pass the inspection and everyone’s happy. There are times, however, when the inspector finds something that needs to be addressed. In the worst cases, the policy will go into a cancellation status because of some unforeseen issue. In most cases, we have the opportunity to correct whatever the inspector has identified as an issue such as:
- Trees touching the roof
- Peeling paint
- A broken window
- Shingles that need to be replaced
- Some stairs that need a hand rail
I’m usually able to review the inspection and discuss the problem areas with an underwriter. Once we’re on the same page about what needs to be done, I’ll talk with the homeowner and outline the actions they need to take.
Every so often, I’m hit with something completely unexpected. Such was the case ten days ago.
I received notice from one of my carriers: the home policy I’d written for a family in the Hill Country of Texas was being placed into a cancellation status. It had failed the inspection. I was surprised but called underwriting and requested a copy of the home inspection. They emailed it to me while we were on the phone and we reviewed the items the inspector had identified as being problematic:
- The above ground pool in the back yard was unfenced
- Several shingles were missing from the detached garage
- The back stairs needed a hand rail
- The family owned a cow
What I appreciated most about the underwriter I was working with is her professionalism and willingness to discuss the issues with us. Together we addressed each item and developed a plan for my home owner.
Most insurance companies will not write an unfenced pool. In this company’s case, they were willing to accept an unfenced above ground pool as the home was in the country, so long as the home owner were willing to remove the ladder and lock it up when they were not home.
We both accepted the shingles would need to be replaced on the detached garage and even identified some tree limbs touching the roof that needed to be cut back. Most underwriters also want to see a handrail installed if there are three or more steps leading up to the home. They don’t want to see anyone fall and have a claim on their hands.
The cow was a complete surprise to us both. I’d confirmed with the home owner they had two horses and were not operating a commercial farm or ranch. I discussed this with the underwriters before binding the policy and it was approved. Two horses were not a big deal for many of my carriers as long as they are not operating a commercial ranch, riding school, or boarding other people’s horses. We live in Texas after all. However, in this case I needed to find out why there was a cow.
I called the home owner and went through each item on the inspection report. He agreed to lock up the ladder for the above ground pool, replacing the shingles on the detached garage, cutting back the tree limbs, and to installing a railing. He informed me there was only the one cow and it was being raised for personal consumption; it will be butchered later this fall.
My client emailed me the pictures the underwriter requested for the work performed and then she and I discussed the cow. This particular insurance company will accept one cow, in addition to the two horses, in certain cases; a kid’s 4-H project or one that will be raised for food. Once she and I reviewed everything, the policy was removed from cancellation status and she noted the home met underwriting approval.
My client was happy, he and his family are saving almost $1,000 on home insurance and they have a great appreciation for the company I placed them with. As for me, I‘ve added a new question to my list of questions for prospective clients who live in the country and have horses. I’ll also be confirming if they have any cows!
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