4-Point Inspection in South Florida
Consult Our Certified Home Inspector in Palm Beach County, Florida
The 4-Point Inspection is often a required inspection to obtain (or maintain) insurance coverage. The inspection requirements were designed by insurance companies to get a better understanding of the structure they are insuring.
This is especially pertinent when insuring an older home. Older homes, usually 30 years or older, have had more time in which to have systems repaired or replaced or for things to potentially fall in to disrepair. Older homes also may have used construction techniques or materials that were normal at the time but were subsequently phased out in favor of more modern practices. These are all things that are interesting and important for the insurance company to be aware of, since it helps them determine if the home is eligible for coverage under their underwriting policies.
The 4-point inspection is what lets the carrier know what it is they are insuring. Since they don’t know until they get the inspection, the 4-point is often required when a home is of a certain age (usually 30 years or older), so the carrier can be sure about some of the important features of the home that it is insuring.
4-Points can also be requested in a wide variety of other situations not directly related to the age of the home. Some insurance companies perform one on all or virtually all the policies they insure.
OK, so what are the four points?
The reason for the inspection’s name relates to the fact that the inspector is going to look at four of the most important systems in your home that historically are the most likely areas to cause an insurance claim. For each of the 4 items, the inspection is limited to the visible parts of each system. These systems are:
- The Visible HVAC System (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)
- Visible Roof System
- Visible Plumbing System
- Visible Electrical System
When these items are being inspected there are two particular things the insurance company is looking for:
- First, they will want to know the condition of each system: are they new, used, and are they in relatively good shape? Is there any evidence of repairs that have been made? If so, do the repairs look like they were professionally done? If any damage or deficiencies are noted, it’s possible you will have to correct them to obtain or maintain your insurance policy.
- The second thing that they are going to be looking at is the age of the components. If you are purchasing an older home there is a chance that the age of one feature or another will be beyond the maximum age allowed by a carrier’s underwriting rules, even if the condition of the component in question appears to be fine.
If the 4-Point Inspection reports a possible deficiency, don't panic!
The inspection company should always be happy to walk you through their findings, but it’s your trusted insurance agent that can take those findings and make sure you’re in the right policy with the right coverage, insured by the right carrier.
A word of caution
Notice that everything about the 4-point inspection is related to obtaining or retaining homeowner’s insurance, period. It’s a limited scope inspection that takes less than an hour in most cases. It’s focused on insurance and has nothing to do with the type of home inspection one should get if they are deciding whether to buy a home. For that, you would need a Comprehensive (or Real Estate) Home Inspection. That type of inspection often takes 3-4 hours and takes an in-depth look at (and documents) hundreds of features throughout a home. Exclusively or primarily using a 4-point inspection to decide whether to buy a home would be completely inappropriate.
You can provide your insurance company the full home inspection in lieu of a 4-point inspection. However, we strongly recommend that you don't do this. Many insurance agents will ask clients to provide only a 4-point inspection rather than the entire inspection. Often, a home inspection will also list other minor and/or cosmetic damages. We don't recommend sending all the minor issues to your prospective insurance company (unless you have been asked to do this).
A 4-Point Inspection must be performed by either a Florida licensed general or building contractor, a building inspector, architect or engineer, OR a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the Florida Association of Building Inspectors (FABI), or the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI).