How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes
Why is the insurance company requiring a four point inspection to insure my older mobile home?
Sunday, August 25, 2019
Although insurance companies in our area just recently started requiring a four point inspection report as a prerequisite for issuing homeowner’s insurance for an older mobile home, they have been requiring one for older site-built homes for many years. The reason for the requirement is simple: older homes statistically have more insurance claims.
Many of the claims are related to the deteriorated condition of old building components and major appliances. Insurance companies don’t like claims, so they want an inspector to check the condition of the home’s four major components—which are 1) roof, 2) electrical system, 3) plumbing system, and 4) heating/air conditioning system—looking for things that might cause a claim, due to their poor condition.
You cannot do the inspection yourself. It must be completed, and signed, by a licensed home inspector, building contractor, architect or engineer. The inspector must use a standard form that asks specific questions. There is a generic form that many companies accept, but others insist that the inspector use their company’s form. Citizens Insurance and Tower Hill Insurance are two companies in our area that require use of their own form, and each one is slightly different. Here’s a link to the Citizens Insurance form, as an example:
So, think about what might cause an insurance claim in the home due to its condition. That’s what the inspector will be looking for, and you want to have fixed before the inspector arrives, if possible. Here’s eight examples:
- A roof with any leaks at all, or an older roof, typically close to 20 years old for a 3-tab asphalt shingle roof, for example. An estimated additional roof life of 3 to 5 years is the usual standard for a roof to be acceptable.
- Any evidence of plumbing leaks or other water intrusion into the home, even previous ones,
- Deteriorated, damaged, or unvented plumbing piping. PB (polybutylene) pipe is a red flag for most companies, and they will require replacement. Go to our blog post What does polybutylene pipe look like? Why is it a problem? for more on this.
- An older water heater, typically more than about 25-years old, or one with visible deep corrosion. Many older mobile homes locate the water heater in a sealed compartment only accessible from a screwed-in-place panel at the exterior wall, which has not been opened in years. Having trouble finding the water heater? See Where do I find the water heater in a mobile home?
- Deteriorated washing machine hoses. Any evidence of leakage around laundry. The washing machine should not drain onto the ground, and the dryer vent should not terminate under the home.
- An electric panel with screw-in type fuses, or a circuit breaker panel with amateur wiring modifications inside.
- Exposed, unprofessional electrical wiring, especially open electrical splices.
- Lack of an installed heating system. Window a/c units or plug-in portable heaters are not considered “installed.”
A four-point is not a complete home inspection like you would get when buying a mobile home. The inspector does not look at things like the condition of the piers under the home, kitchen cabinets, carpet, paint finishes, or windows. Think “potential insurance claim” and you will have the mind-set of the insurance company, and be ready to get a good inspection.
See our blog post Is the 4-point insurance inspection strictly pass or fail? to learn about your options if the inspector finds defects that will require repair. Also, we suggest reading Can a patched roof pass a 4-point inspection?
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