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Protecting Home Inspectors from Meritless Claims

Joe Ferry’s Home Inspector Training Blog

Join Joe Ferry at ASHI/MAHI Seminar in Levittown, NY

 

ASHI/MAHI Seminar Long IslandIf you are a frequent visitor of JoeFerry.com, you may already know about the upcoming ASHI/MAHI seminar on Long Island this February.

The video above details the benefits of attending this meeting full of valuable home inspector training. You can click within the video for registration information as well. I will be presenting the Law and Disorder Seminar on the workshop’s first day, and other valuable instruction will be provided on storm damage, crawl spaces and more.

Join me and a large contingent of your colleagues in Levittown, PA on Thursday, February 27 and Friday, February 28.
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E&O Insurance Does NOT Paint a Target On Your Back

E&O Insurance No Target on BackMany home inspectors believe that if they tell a client and his/her lawyers that they don’t carry professional liability insurance, the claim will just disappear.

However, there are no shortage of clients making meritless claims. I see them every day. Would no insurance from which to collect on a judgment make the claim just go away? If claimants aren’t deterred by no rational basis for their case, how likely is it that they will stop in their tracks when they realize you don’t have insurance?
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Thermal Imaging’s Liability Factor

Tip 41 - Thermal Imaging's Liability FactorA California home inspector recently sent me an email inquiring about thermal imaging’s place in the industry, but more importantly, my legal perspective on whether the new “x-ray vision” opened up another dimension of legal liability for the inspector.

Thermal imaging has become more commonplace as another add-on in an inspector’s menu of services, increasing an inspector’s per-inspection revenue as the residential real estate marketplace finally starts to awaken from its nearly decade-long slumber.

This brings up an important skill I preach to home inspectors during my Law and Disorder Seminar. An inspector must align his or her client’s expectations with the reality of a limited, non-invasive, visual home inspection. To that end, thermal imaging can be an important tool in conducting an inspection and increasing revenue, but I also see where it could open an inspector up to increased liability exposure – yet, perhaps not in the area you may think.
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Transferring Assets to Your Spouse Does NOT Protect You From Creditors

Transferring Assets to Spouse - No Protection From CreditorsHome inspectors often observe that putting everything in their spouse’s name would make them financially insolvent and protect them against greedy, reckless clients searching for financial blood.

In these instances, inspectors consider themselves judgment-proof and find no need to carry professional liability insurance.

However, not everything is as rosy as it looks on the surface. There are potential side effects to this scheme. I go into some of those side effects in this installment of my ClaimsAcademy video training series.
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Limitation of Liability is NOT a Home Inspector’s Best Friend

Myth 2: Limitation of Liability Not Home Inspector's Best FriendHome inspectors love Limitation of Liability clauses because, in most U.S. jurisdictions, they put a cap on a home inspector’s potential liability for negligence. However, these same clauses also stifle a home inspector’s earning potential.

How?

I describe in the video below how Limitation of Liability clauses are completely unnecessary and don’t prevent clients and co-defendants from suing home inspectors.

Make sure you click the second button below to subscribe to Joe Ferry’s ClaimsAcademy and get immediate access to my complete home inspector training video library. If you are already a member, click the first button and sign in. (more…)

No Country For Old Inspectors

There is nothing like a road trip for restoring your faith in the future of this country and reminding you that, despite our manifold problems, the present is pretty awesome, too.

As I write this, I am sitting at the departure gate for my flight home to Philadelphia after having spent a few extra days in New Hampshire and Maine following the presentation of the Law and Disorder Seminar to about 25 home inspectors at the ASHI Northern New England Chapter’s Spring Conference in Eliot, Maine.

The inspectors who came to this seminar were all seasoned veterans and virtually all of them had had one or more bad experiences with an unreasonable client, a cowardly insurance company, an unprofessional real estate agent or a vindictive seller that had caused them considerable agita and cost them lots of money. In other words, this was a sampling with a margin of error of zero.

This, of course, is not exactly terra incognita to me. I am accustomed to inspectors being shocked, shocked that their insurance company would pay a bogus claim, or would immediately offer their deductible to the complaining former client, or would assign them an attorney “who didn’t seem to know anything about home inspections” and who would churn the file, running up legal fees for years, before eventually caving in and settling the case for “nuisance value.”

And I am completely inured to the astonished reaction from veteran inspectors who are hearing for the very first time in their inspection careers that there is no longer any reason for them to stand for this nonsense. That there is a new sheriff in town! That their days of routinely refunding inspection fees are over!
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Accept No Substitutes

The other day, I got a call from an old friend and a long-time ClaimIntercept™ subscriber. He had been contacted by an E & O insurance monger retailing a product with a price that he found attractive and he wanted to talk to me about it.

I had never heard of the company but that is certainly not a disqualifying factor. After all, there was a time in my life when I had never heard of The Travelers. That’s another way of saying that there are lots of insurance companies that I have never heard of — and that you have never heard of — that are good quality, financially sound companies that serve niche markets and do so very professionally. It’s a big competitive world. What a country!

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Only 1% of All Home Inspection Claims Have Merit

Only 1% of Home Inspection Claims Have MeritA home inspector who serves on his state’s licensing board told me that 6% of the licensed inspectors in that state had claims brought against them and that 90% (yes, 90%) of those claims had merit.

Those numbers were completely at odds with my experience where less than 1% of home inspection claims have merit, so it made me wonder if the insurers on those claims were doing any investigation whatsoever or perhaps they just don’t know what constitutes a meritorious claim.

Let me tell them (and you) in this week’s ClaimsAcademy video blog. This is a valuable piece of home inspector training.
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The Cozy World of Litigation: “I Like to Give Business to People I Like”

Tip 40 - The Cozy World of LitigationA home inspector I’ve known for several years came up to me at an industry workshop with an issue: he had received a demand letter from a past client for failing to detect mold.

Shocking, the underlying facts of this claim were ridiculous. Leaving aside that mold detection is excluded from any extant standard of practice, and was not part of this inspection, the mold was only discovered after destructive probing.

The “I’ll fix this” home inspection industry cycle ensued. The inspector tried to (unsuccessfully) explain to the claimant’s attorney that the claim had no merit then subsequently turned it over to his insurance company, which appointed expert local counsel.

And that’s the worst of all possible worlds for the home inspector.

I explain the cozy world of litigation – a world that benefits the suits, not the home inspector – in this week’s video blog.

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Returning Your Faith in the Legal System

Returning Home Inspector's Faith in Legal SystemMany home inspectors have little faith in the legal system, and as an attorney in this professional space, I can see why. They believe (nearly 100% of the time rightfully so) that they are being wrongfully sued, poorly defended and thrown under the bus to the tune of an expensive deductible and a professional black mark.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Attorneys actually appreciate being told that their recently-sent demand letter is hogwash (that’s a legal term) and that the claim has no legal standing for a litany of reasons. Instead of getting a check back in the mail, when a claimant’s attorney hears from me, he or she knows that pursuing the claim wouldn’t be beneficial to their client, and in turn their OWN professional reputation.

How can I return your faith in the legal system? Watch this week’s video blog for more details on an approach that makes the legal system work like it should.
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