When Should a 4 Point Inspection Be Done?

A 4 point inspection covers the main 4 points of a home and assesses the updates and conditions of those aspects of the home. This is an effort for the homeowner and insurance company to better understand the status of the home and likelihood of avoiding damage or injury.

Those main 4 areas that this inspection reviews are the roof, heating and air conditioning, electrical and plumbing. The inspection would look at the current condition, when any updates were done and if they are up to acceptable building codes, as well as how much life is left before needing repair or replacement.

Often times when it comes to homeowners insurance, this type of inspection can help determine the insurability of the home and whether or not it meets certain insurance company’s underwriting guidelines. This is extremely important on homes that are 25 years old or more.

So what can be done when it comes to a 4 point inspection early in the process? How can you avoid any hiccups that could delay closing or cause insurance issues after the fact? 

  • If working with a buyer, help them understand the condition and age of those 4 main points of the house and the importance in updates or being up to code
  • If working with a seller, help get quotes to update those 4 main points as that can be a deal breaker for buyers or the re-insurability of the home

When should a wind mitigation inspection be done on a home?

A wind mitigation inspection is completed by a licensed contractor. On a standard homeowners insurance policy, a home may qualify for a hurricane/wind premium discount. A wind mitigation inspection would be required for homes built prior to 2002, since that is when building codes changed.

Homes built in 2002 or after were required to meet roofing regulations by building code, and therefore automatically receive wind mitigation credits. This inspection typically costs between $85 and $150 and the premium discount applied by the insurance company will remain for the life of the home policy.

Wind resistive construction features that are considered when a property is being inspected for wind mitigation credits include:
• Secure roof shingles and roof coverings that meet the Florida Building Code requirements
• Roof decking secured with larger nails or screws closer together
• Hurricane clips/straps that secure the roof to the supporting walls
• Window protection (i.e. shutters, impact resistant glazing, etc.)
• Additional water resistant barriers to prevent leakage in the event that the top layer of roofing is damaged
• Roof geometry or shape of roof

This information may be helpful when questioning whether or not a wind mitigation inspections should be done:

2002 or newer: No wind mitigation needed, credits automatically apply
1990-2001: Very likely to receive credits, especially if roof has been replaced since 2002
1980-1989: Likely to receive credits, especially if roof has been replaced since 2002
1970-1979: Not likely to receive credits, but possible if roof has been replaced since 2002
Older than 1970: Unlikely to receive credits
Flat roof (any age): Unlikely to receive credits

What exactly is a sinkhole and do I have coverage for it?

With sinkhole activity up all around the state of Florida and especially a few big ones in the news lately, many people are wondering what exactly a sinkhole is and if they have adequate coverage for the damage one could cause.

To first clarify what a sinkhole is – it is a depression, cavity or hole in the ground caused by some sort of collapse. Some believe these are a result of a soil issue, earth movement, nearby development, erosion, or running water such as a broken pipe underground. There are several things that can cause a sinkhole to open up and unfortunately, they can happen rather quickly and unexpectedly. Because there are not always indications or warnings, sinkholes can be very dangerous.

When there are symptoms of sinkhole activity, they typically include the following:

  • cracks in interior joint areas, windows or doors
  • cracks in exterior block or stucco
  • windows and doors become harder to close properly
  • depressions in your yard, other yards near you or the street
  • deep cracks and separation of paved concrete walks and drives
  • circular patches of wilting plants
  • sediment in your water
  • neighbors with confirmed sinkhole activity
  • observation of an actual cavity beginning to open

In order for a claim to be covered as a sinkhole loss, there must be “actual physical damage to the property covered arising out of or caused by sudden settlement or collapse of the earth supporting such property only when such settlements or collapse results from subterranean voids created by the action of water on a limestone or similar rock formation.” More simply stated, not all direct collapses from settlement problems fall within sinkhole coverage.

At this time, most home insurance companies in Florida do not provide sinkhole coverage unless you have an underwriting approved sinkhole inspection.

It is important to note that a sinkhole differs from catastrophic ground cover collapse. This coverage is almost always on home insurance policies in Florida. There are a few things to consider as somewhat of a rule-of-thumb when it comes to catastrophic ground cover collapse such as:

  • the abrupt collapse of the ground cover
  • a depression clearly visible to the naked eye
  • structural damage to the building including foundation
  • the structure being condemned or vacated by government authority or official

Because sinkhole activity has grown to be just about as common as hurricanes and water damage in Florida, it is very important for all home owners to understand what coverage their policy has and pursue endorsements and inspections as they see fit to protect their property and belongings from damage. If you ever suspect sinkhole activity, it is advised to secure the location from people and pets and then contact local authority and your insurance agent.

“What flood zone is my home in?”

This is such a common question we hear from home owners as well as realtors and mortgage lenders when it comes to property in Florida. Although it’s been proven that the majority of flood claims come from “low risk” flood zones (determined by FEMA), it’s still extremely important to know what level of risk you have for your home to potentially sustain flood damage.

There is a new tool called Flood Factor from First Street Foundation that can help determine the flood risk of a property just by entering the physical address. This tool can tell you approximately what percentage the chances are of your property being damaged by flood and what amount of flooding might occur. There are also projections up to 30 years into the future of how that could change over time. And if you’re interested, you can see some further statistics on your zip code, county and state within this tool as well.

This is beneficial in many ways but mostly to bring awareness to home owners of what their own situation is with regards to flooding and also what threats the surrounding areas may face. This also brings to light some gaps in the current FEMA mapping system, especially in smaller communities and rural areas. FEMA has reportedly only mapped one third of the nation’s riverine and coastal floodplains. That’s not nearly enough! But without an appropriate level of funding from Congress, that won’t be completed. This tool also helps with planning, identification of hazard mitigation opportunities, and conducting emergency response action plans.

One thing to note is that this tool is limited on how many details it knows about the property so it will not take into account things like community action, manual drainage systems put in place, etc.
It has been discovered that even just one inch of flooding can cause up to $27,000 of damage to your home so this isn’t something to take lightly. Most standard home owners and renters insurance policies do NOT cover flooding so it’s worth checking this out and seeing if you need a separate flood insurance policy. For more information on flood insurance or to obtain a quote, please contact us at (352) 371-7977 or info@mcgriffwilliams.com.

What exactly is Other Structures coverage?

Many people question the Other Structures coverage on their homeowner’s policy and don’t fully understand exactly what it is. It’s also referred to as Coverage B since it’s built into the core coverages on a standard HO-3 policy.

Other Structures applies to anything on the property that is not attached to the home itself. Examples of this would be:

• Fences
• Sheds
• Detached garages
• Gazebos
• Chicken coops
• Pump houses
• Pole barns
• Swimming pools (if not attached to the home)

However, there are often times exclusions for hurricane loss to the following if not attached to the dwelling (unless they are constructed with the same material as the main home):

• Awnings
• Aluminum framed screen enclosures/carports
• Solar panels
• Solar water heaters

A popular other structure in Florida, especially after everyone has stayed home more during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a swimming pool. If the pool is attached to the home (even by a connecting patio or screen enclosure), it would be covered under the Dwelling. Otherwise, it’s under Other Structures.

Typically, Other Structures coverage is 2% of the dwelling amount but it can be increased by endorsement with most companies to be sure you have enough. If you don’t have any detached structures on your property, you may question why you have this coverage at all. It is included as part of the policy without additional premium and cannot be fully excluded.

Be sure to evaluate these things on your property as sometimes they can be overlooked but also the things that commonly sustain damage in storms. If you have questions regarding what should be covered, at what value or under which coverage on your homeowner’s policy, we’d be happy to discuss it with you.