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Serving West Central Florida | Pinellas/Pasco: 727-550-2074 | Hillsborough: 813-406-4904 | Fax: 727-498-7512 | Inspectordanz@FirstQualityInspections.Com

For all the Agents and Agencies not yet aware, in the recent months there has been a few major changes brewing behind the scenes concerning Wind Mitigation Inspections and some 4-Point Inspections. There has been an escalating amount of Fraudulent Inspections being provided to the insurance companies. "Inspectors"  knowingly working under licenses that either expired or do not exist, and "Inspectors" licensed, but providing Intentionally Faulty Reports are submitting reports and the insurance companies are finding through follow up inspections and basic on-line license checks that the problem is growing. Some insurance companies serving this region such as Universal, United, Florida Peninsula, Gulfstream and Citizens have begun cracking down on inspection firms and recently, agencies that recommend them. It is recommended that you review this information with any companies you write for to see if they are having similar problems, and how you may prevent it from effecting your agency. We compiled a detailed review based on our collective experience in the insurance and inspection fields in Florida, and our constant yearning to perfect our Standards of Practice.

Much of this article was inspired from actual review of various dwellings. We have reviewed dozens of these very instances with photographical evidence! Many times it is unbeknownst to the homeowner who would have fixed the problems had the Inspector informed them. An Inspector should always honor the ethics of his/her respective field and assist in every way afforded them to secure the safety of every occupant that resides in the dwelling. Their reporting should never be compromised for any reason, especially financial purposes. Morely, the Inspector should always be one who is actually knowledgeable of the circumstances within a dwelling.
  • Newly unemployed contractors and home inspectors are picking up the title of "insurance inspector" at an all time high due to their respective fields lying waste in the economic slump. These individuals enjoyed lavish growth and financial prosperity until there bridge burned beneath them, now there trying to diversify into a market and industry that does not offer those same rewards. But demands more than some are willing and able to offer.
  • Individual 4-Point inspections fees do not come close to the amount a home inspector or contractor would make in their respective fields, so some tried to drive up the prices, that failed miserably! Now they are trying the opposite and undercutting the industries bare minimums especially within our region. While that sounds great on the surface for the insurance agents and their clients, it is important to note the undeniable about conducting business, "overhead". Believe it or not, a credible inspection firm has a lot of it and without the proper allocation of funds to support the escalating cost of gas, vehicle ware and maintenance, licensing, wages, office supplies, licensing and company dues, a credible and efficient inspection firm becomes the very opposite. 
  • Our prices have not changed for eight years despite the escalating onslaught of financial burdens from the aforementioned. Although we strive to keep our rates as low as possible while providing progressive quality to our forms, field service and office staff, others have been providing "inspections" at "Walmart type special" prices and in doing so, are providing Walmart type quality inspections i.e. unqualified inspectors signing off on in some cases, potentially life threatening situations within the dwellings "inspected".
  • Inspectors and contractors alike are pushing below minimum pricing and in extension, below minimum standards! The amount of inspections needed to stay "financially afloat" are doubled or tripled. Certified inspectors are not willing to work under these individuals because that would mean they would receive even less, thereby plunging into near poverty standards, so many of these "inspectors" are hiring on often young individuals having ill knowledge to the ISO standards and ill informed to the inspection and construction criteria.
  • "Inspectors" are more recently being caught conducting business under fraudulent licensing. As we all know contractors come and go, and so do there respective licenses. The problem is that many of these inspectors are aware that there licenses were revoked or expired and have not done anything to resolve the matter and in addition, continue to conduct business under these licenses after realizing the fraudulent circumstances.
  • These "inspectors" often do not inspect beyond an exterior look at the dwelling and in many cases deliberately pass homes that are in dire need of updates that are essential to maintain the human occupancy standard, let alone the minimum insurance requirements. This is done to attract business alot like the business conducted with appraisers in the real estate market in the not so distant past, by passing homes that are potentially unsafe to live in, let alone pass insurance requirements, these "inspectors" gained a liking by investors looking for ways to get around there landlord obligations and insurance agents looking to collect on a premium rather than concern themselves with the safety of their client and well being of both their clients and the companies they write for. And this is where our industry is primarily in danger of a similar collapse much like the lending industry.
  • Based on insider testamonials from agents we work with, Universal Property and Casualty has previously released a memo to all the agencies writing with them stating in essence, the very same frustrations we have with the accruing state of the 4-point Arena. They have stated receiving mitigation inspections utilizing fraudulent licensing i.e. expired or non-existent, and/or reports of errors that go beyond your general E&O's into questionable reporting practices. Keep in mind this information is down wind, and is not exact. As stated above it is recommended that you call your company(ies) and inquire further. Florida Peninsula, one of the up and comer companies here in Florida, have also installed harsher checks on these fly by nights.
  • A recent find of an 1802 form being filled out with a MSFH number attached to it, was found to be inactive a month before the inspection took place (not retroactive revocation) and morely, the signature didn’t add up to the one on file! Though the Company is in the process of pursuing prosecution in this case, it is all to common of a practice and will undoubtedly harm alot of innocent and unknowing individuals in the wake.
  • Citizens, Gulfstream, Florida Peninsula etc. are all beefing up their follow up inspections. It seems that they are pushing this for the reasons stated above and if they come across as many "problem" houses as I have seen with faulty reporting, that thorough investigation, license revocations for inspectors etc. and fingers pointed at others will be ever more common.    
      How To Prevent It:
  •  Make sure you check the license or certification of your Inspectors.
  • Cross Reference your knowledge and experience dealing with your inspector with the company(ies) you write for to ensure there is no unresolved instances with him/her and the company.
  • Don't go for the cheapest, but the most reliable. It is a known fact, times are tough and your clients are already mad as hell, the last thing they want to do is pay out more money. But if the inspectors practices are questionable do to financial constraints as stated before, chances are they will be paying again. We personally had to go back and do re-inspections for individuals holding a worthless or fraudulent report numerous times in the past few months and the numbers are growing.
  • You get what you pay for. Most of you know the general rate of the 4-point market ranges from $70 -$150 depending on our area. This particular region employs a basic rate of $70 -$100. If you do the math, the average credibleinspector gets is a basic living wage after all the overhead and taxes. So if you have an inspection firm doing your 4-points for under the basic rates and it isn't a limited promotional advertisement of services, then we implore you to review their practices to ensure he/she will not compromise your agency.
  • Credible, hospitable practices rub off. We find many frustrated clients that we inspect for are directing agitation toward the agent and there agency. You can be surprised how different an individual’s attitude can be turned around just by treating them like human beings. Most inspectors lack the care to listen or answer any questions they may have simply because they have heard it so much they can care less. We firmly believe quality sells itself, we employ that in every form, including our representation of ourselves on site. Because even though we don't represent you or make claim of such, like it or not your client sees us that way and if we don't do our job in the way we treat them and the service we provide, it may mean you losing your client. With many agencies loosing there clients because the companies they were with dropping them, or a sudden price hike and their client directing the blame at the agent, you know how important it is to preserve good representation. Good representation doesn't come from being dirt cheap, though some may think so, it comes from informed, hospitable, ethical and professional human beings that do there best to make their customers smile, despite the times and all while thoroughly inspecting there dwelling and sighting any problems.

*This article as referenced above, is solely to help agencies review and better protect themselves from accruing problems within this field.
The opinions are based on reviewed reports from agents informed in this situation and by actual experiences in dealing with re-inspecting "improperly" inspected dwellings. It is merely to aid any whom read this to further investigate and help assist their respective insurance companies to fight it before it becomes more rampant and hinders them personally. For any additional input, or questions in the matter, please contact us here, or click the link above.

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Serving West Central Florida | Pinellas/Pasco: 727-550-2074 | Hillsborough: 813-406-4904 | Fax: 727-498-7512 | Inspectordanz@FirstQualityInspections.Com