Myth # 1: Only Incompetent Inspectors Ever Have Claims

In these next series of posts, I am going to be debunking several myths that home inspectors should stop believing about their profession and the law. One such belief is that only incompetent inspectors ever have professional liability claims. So if you’re a good inspector you have little to worry about.

Now that I am nearly five years into my total immersion in the trials and tribulations of home inspectors, I can state with complete confidence that the overwhelming majority of home inspectors never ever expect to have a claim made against them for a home inspection that they conducted. I know this because when they contact me after they have received some ugly correspondence from a client or a client’s lawyer, they invariably tell me “Joe, I’ve inspected over X thousand houses and this is the first time I’ve ever had an issue with any inspection.”

And the thing of it is the guys are very competent inspectors but they mistakenly thought that being competent is the key to a claim-free existence. If only that were true. It should be true. But it isn’t.

What generates claims are bad results. The roof has a leak but you couldn’t inspect the roof because it was covered with snow and the attic was inaccessible. So you disclaimed responsibility for the roof. The first rainstorm after your client moves in, expect a call. You did everything right. But it won’t matter to your client.

The water heater, whose age and general appearance you noted on your report, was performing properly on the date of the inspection but a few months after your clients took possession, it burst secondary to advanced internal corrosion that, according to the plumber called in to diagnose and rectify the problem, “the home inspector should have caught.”

There are several home inspectors on whose behalf I have squashed these sorts of claims multiple times. All of them are vastly experienced and well-regarded by their peers.

Mere professional competence, however, will not prevent your client from making a claim against you if there’s a bad result. Especially, if some other professional gratuitously places the blame on you. You have to be lucky, as well.

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