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Protecting Home Inspectors from Meritless Claims

Make Sure Your Clients Read the Inspection Report

Read Home Inspection ReportA home inspector’s friend was recently buying a home and had a home inspection completed. However, he never read the inspection report!

When he took ownership of the home, he discovered a huge crack in the kitchen’s granite countertop, a defect that was never disclosed on the seller’s disclosure, BUT was detailed in the unread home inspection report.

What recourse, if any, does the new homeowner have? I detail what happens next as well as the importance of reading a home inspection report in this week’s video blog.
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Don’t Just Rate It, State It in Home Inspection Report!

Don't Just Rate It, State It in Home Inspection ReportWhat home inspection report methodology works best – narratives or checklists? Many home inspectors have varying views on this issue, but I provide a logical assessment in support of one of these methods from a legal perspective.

What method keeps your business safe? What method is more likely to safeguard you from reckless clients and their meritless claims? I analyze each method and their pros and cons in this week’s ClaimsAcademy video blog below.
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Karma is Hell

“What goes around, comes around” is a popular expression where I come from. It is a celebration of comeuppance, the schadenfreude one feels when, every so often, some bad deeds do not go unpunished.

About fifteen months ago, one of my ClaimIntercept™ subscribers had gotten a demand letter from someone for whom he had performed a home inspection. The claim was prototypical of a home inspection claim in that it had no merit as to the home inspector and very likely none to either of the other targets, the seller of the home and the listing agent.

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Inspection Agreements: Is There Anything They Can’t Do?

When home inspectors contact me to squash a claim, there are three documents that I always ask for: All correspondence with the claimant, the Inspection Report and the Inspector’s Inspection Agreement. These documents essentially constitute the “claim file” and invariably provide a torrent of reasons why the claim will fail.

After having sucessfully dispatched over 300 home inspection claims since 2006, I never expect a claim to have any merit and my expectations are never dashed. Of course, claimants and their attorneys, by and large, do not regard the mere fact that a claim has no legitimate predicate as any obstacle to making it. Indeed, their most frequently and fervently expressed desire is that the inspector “turn [the claim] over to your insurance company.”

And who can blame them? After all, most insurance companies operating in the home inspector professional liability field do not regard the mere fact that a claim has no legitimate predicate as any obstacle to throwing money at it. As long as the amount does not exceed the insured’s deductible, that is.
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Why You MUST Follow Your SOP

SOP is Your Best FriendFollow your SOP. It’s a theme I ingrain in the minds of home inspectors who attend my Law and Disorder Seminar. It’s one of the 6 key strategies to diminish your chances of being successfully sued by an enraged, irrational client.

One thing that can NOT go unnoticed in the thousands of SOPs I’ve read across various states and professional organizations is this: “The home inspector is not required to:” followed by a litany of issues for which the home inspector is NOT responsible during a limited, non-invasive home inspection.

In this week’s video blog, I examine the SOP’s key elements and how to utilize your own SOP as a safeguard against clients who want to come after you for a result you did not cause and/or an issue you weren’t required to inspect.

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Spreading Home Inspector Education Nationwide

Joe Ferry Educating Home Inspectors NationwideI have traveled across this country, well the lower 48 anyway, educating home inspectors on ways they can minimize risk, maximize business reputation efforts and protect themselves from meritless claims.

I have met over 5,000 home inspectors in the last five years while presenting the Law and Disorder Seminar, and I enjoy providing these competent professionals with education they need to safeguard themselves in this litigious culture.

I also find learning about each inspector’s unique value proposition, business similarities and structural differences is a valuable exercise in better understanding the industry.

In this week’s video blog, I talk about my travels, my thoughts on the interactions I have with industry professionals and how you can see me at your chapter or association event in 2015.
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Paying Out Your Dollars in All The WRONG Places

Tip #28 - Paying Out Dollars in Wrong PlacesThe No. 1 compliant I receive from home inspectors is that some insurance companies cave like tents and pay claimants even when the inspector did nothing wrong!

An insurance company’s only interest is in settling the claim on its own terms, not ones that are necessarily favorable to the home inspector. Accordingly, many home inspectors don’t adequately protect themselves. They carry high deductibles to lower premiums.

Yet, as I always say, you do NOT have to conduct a negligent home inspection to be accused of doing so.

I examine why and detail the near horror story of one home inspector in this week’s ClaimsAcademy video blog.
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Home Inspectors: Competence Does Not Equal a Claim-Free Existence

Myth 1: Competence Equals Claim-Free ExistenceMany home inspectors believe that competence and experience guarantee a claim-free existence. They are stunned when they receive their first claim (likely a meritless one) after 20 years on the job.

As part of my home inspector training video tip series, ClaimsAcademy, the video below debunks the theory that competence equals a claim-free existence. Watch the video for further examination of the myth and how that false sense of security can hurt your business and professional reputation as a home inspector. Then make sure to sign up for my free video and case study library, which includes a robust collection of valuable information to help you, the competent home inspector, protect your business.
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Good News for Arizona Home Inspectors! Not!

“Good News for Arizona Home Inspectors!” was the headline on a blurb sent to members of Arizona ASHI. What was the “Good News”? The Arizona State Board of Technical Registration – the guys who impose preposterous punishments on home inspectors who have had the misfortune of being the subject of a complaint by their delusional clients – had been operating under the truly ludicrous notion that there should be no statute of limitations for home inspections. In other words, to the citrulls on the Board, you should be subject to suit for a claimed negligent inspection until the end of time. And beyond.

How professional licensing boards always manage to comprise a startlingly large number of knuckleheads would be, it seems to me, an interesting avenue of scholarly inquiry for some enterprising doctoral student.

So the “Good News” for Sun Devil inspectors is that the Arizona State Legislature has reduced the time within which a home inspection claim can be brought from whenever and forever to four years. While four years is a damn sight better than the incumbent standard, which remains in full force and effect until the legislative session mercifully ends, pardon me if I seem underwhelmed by this legislation.
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“The Home Inspector is Not Required to…”

Follow Your SOP - Tip 35I stress to home inspectors about the legal importance of religiously following their SOP. I know that some home inspectors exceed their SOPs to “stand out” from competitors, but these “stand-out” inspectors are also opening themselves up to more possible liability.

I have read 1000s of SOPs, and a common thread in all of them is this: many phrases that begin, “The home inspector is not required to…” followed by a host of things for which the home inspector is not responsible.

However, I still receive many questions during seminars about the figurative Pandora’s box of legal issues that could arise from exceeding the SOP. Is the SOP that strong? Does exceeding it really open the inspector up to increased possible liability?

I go deeper into the issue in this week’s video blog.

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