December, 2006
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



ASHI Insurance Survey Form

MICHAEL D. CONLEY

There have been persistent rumors over the last year or so of the existence of an insurance inspection form and about ASHI negotiating with the insurance industry. The membership has been asking about the program and when it will be available. As a member of the ASHI Insurance Task Group, I will attempt to address the rumors and answer the questions.

ASHI has been meeting with the insurance industry for 10 years, ostensibly to open a dialog as to how ASHI and its membership can help the insurance industry better define its homeowner coverage. With better data on the quality of construction of a particular home, perhaps insurance coverage can be tailored to meet the needs of homeowners and insurance companies alike.

Over the years, many states have experienced natural disasters. Whether it’s hurricanes in Florida, hailstorms in Texas, tornados in Wisconsin, earthquakes in California or wildfires in the West, there is the potential for a natural disaster in every state. Potentially, all states have exposure and are susceptible to homeowner property damage. The result is insurance companies paying billions to homeowners, sometimes annually, to repair or replace homes.

The number of natural disasters in this country is causing insurers to rethink their coverage; some are even pulling out of high-risk states. This creates an insurance vacuum, with no available coverage or with premiums so high as to cause financial hardships to homeowners. Many of us have experienced this.

The ASHI Insurance Survey Form is a collaboration between ASHI and national insurance company underwriters to eval-uate the housing stock in this country due to potential natural disasters.

Who better to conduct the survey than qualified ASHI Members, who are in the best position to offer this service to homeowners? In addition, ASHI is striving to generate additional income sources for its membership, so that we do not have to rely exclusively on resale homes during economic downturns.

Due to the persistent and damaging series of hurricanes that the Southeast has experienced in the last few years, the survey form will be introduced in the Florida market.

Hopefully, an ongoing dialog with the insurance industry will result in the form being used in other states concerned with other natural disasters so that all ASHI Members and Candidates with logo use privileges (C2s) will have access.

Discussions continue with the insurance industry regarding earthquake-prone states and wildfire concerns as they relate to property owners and how property owners can take steps to protect or minimize their exposure to damage. Taking those steps could lower insurance premiums. Earthquake and wildfire survey discussions are in the preliminary phase.

Additional states will come online with specific disasters as the survey program gains acceptance with insurance underwriters. Also, as momentum continues, there may be opportunities with federal disasters.

The latest version of the survey form is designed to be paperless, with access by ASHI Members and C2s. Once available, blank forms will be downloaded on site and filled out electronically. For those who cannot upload on site, there is a provision for saving the form for uploading later. The form is valid only after it has been uploaded and returned to the inspector via e-mail.

The form and its protocol have a specific application. It is not designed to replace a standard inspection. It is a “Survey” of the building, not an inspection. Nevertheless, the survey can be done in combination with a standard inspection or as a stand-alone, as requested by the client.

The survey form is not currently available. Final technical issues are being addressed. The official version of the survey form version will be available at InspectionWorld California in January 2007.

If you want to know more, come to the ASHI Survey Form session at InspectionWorld California. The program will cover the inception of the form, its meaning and how it should be used. Questions will be welcomed.