Does Florida homeowners insurance require 4-Point inspections?
When you own or purchase an older home, rental property, or condo in Florida, you will likely need for a 4 point inspection before purchasing a homeowners policy. Most insurance companies will require a 4 point inspection when a home is 30 years or older. You can get an insurance quote without an inspection. However, you will need inspection before actually purchasing the policy. We discuss below what an inspection looks at and what will cause a home to not "pass" a four-point inspection. Each FL insurance company has slightly different guidelines on when a 4-Point inspection is required, so check with your insurance agent or carrier. A newer home does not need this inspection. You do not need this for a renters insurance policy.
What is a 4-Point inspection in Florida?
A 4-Point inspection looks at the 4 major systems (Roof, Electrical, Plumbing, HVAC) in an older home. An insurance company wants to know that an older home has been well maintained, and the major systems are in good working condition.
Here is what a 4-Point inspection looks at:
Roof - Type of Roof Covering (shingles, tile, rolled). The age and condition of the roof. Are there missing shingles or leaks?
Electrical System - The type of the wiring in the home (copper, aluminum, cloth, knob & tube). The brand of the electrical panel. The condition of the homes electrical system
Heating and Cooling - Is there central heat and air in the home? The age and condition of the system. Are there signs of leaking?
Plumbing System - Type of supply and drain lines found in the home (copper, CPVC, galvanized, lead, polybutylene, etc. Is there evidence of current leaks? The age of the hot water heater.
Some insurance companies like Citizens Insurance, require the inspector to use their form. Other insurance companies allow the inspector to use their preferred format. In addition to the written report, the inspector will take photos of each of the major systems to provide to the insurance company.
How much does it cost?
These inspections are separate inspections and reports from a standard inspection and cost $150.00. When you switch from one insurance company to another, you can re-use a 4-Point inspection when it is less than 3 years old.
Will it help lower my insurance premiums?
No. whether your home "passes" or "fails" a 4-Point inspection, it does not change the cost of homeowners insurance. This inspection simply determines whether an insurance company will offer insurance on your older home.
Can your home fail a 4-Point Inspection?
If your home has problematic systems or does not meet an insurance companies underwriting guidelines, you may be declined. If this happens, you can fix that issue, or contact another insurance company. Common reasons that insurance companies won't insure older homes include:
A shingle roof that is over 19 years old
A tile roof or a metal roof over 40 years old
A damaged roof
Aluminum wiring or knob and tube wiring due to fire hazards
Certain brands of electric panels including Federal Pacific, Zinsco, Challenger, Bryant, and Sylvania due to fire hazard
A home without central heat and air
Polybutylene plumbing due to the high risk of plumbing bursts.
A hot water heater over 18 years old.
If your home has one of these issues, be sure to tell your insurance agent up front so you get an accurate quote.
Can you get insurance if your home doesn't pass a 4-Point Inspection?
If your home has one of these issues, be sure to tell your insurance agent up front so you get an accurate quote. Insurance companies vary in their responses to homes that have issues. Some insurance companies won't insure these problematic homes at all, while others take a different approach.
There are insurance companies that will offer insurance, but exclude coverage for the problematic system. For example, most insurance companies will not offer coverage on a home with polybutylene plumbing. Those few insurers that will cover a home with polybutylene plumbing exclude all water damage. This means that if the plumbing bursts and floods this home, the cost of repairs will be out of your pocket. Often the only way to get insurance on a home with polybutylene plumbing is to accept this significant water damage exclusion.
If your home has not been updated or has older problematic systems, consider updating them. Before purchasing an older home for the first time, be sure to check that you can find insurance that is affordable. When purchasing an older home, we recommend getting a 4-point inspection done first and working with a reputable independent insurance agent. They can help determine the cost of insurance and advise whether the home is insurable.
If your home has not been updated, expect to pay more for your insurance or have a more difficult time obtaining insurance.