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Insurance companies' home inspections affecting your policy?

9:53 PM, Sep 22, 2011   |    comments
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Homeowners all across Northeast Ohio are getting letters from their insurance companies letting them know inspectors will be assessing the exterior of their homes.

If home improvements aren't made, they risk getting dropped from their policy.

"We had our home built 23 years ago and we've been with them ever since we've had our home," says Vera Barile. Not once has she filed a claim with Allstate, her insurance company.

So, imagine her surprise when she got a letter.

"We may not be able to renew your homeowner policy if they find unacceptable conditions or hazards."

They are going to send an inspector to make sure her home is in tip-top shape.

"And I don't remember such a thorough inspection when we became policy holders 20 years ago."

Vera suspects the company is trying to cover losses from earlier this summer.

This year, Ohio's had the most disaster-related claims ever. The Ohio Insurance Institute says the number of 2011 disaster-related claims for Ohio have surpassed all other years that they've tracked them.

So, is it a coincidence that all of the major insurance companies we've contacted said they're sending letters and inspectors out? When asked, they all denied any connection.

"If we haven't seen the house for years, we have to make sure we still have the correct value on the home," says Ellen Scheer, with American Family Insurance.

She describes the inspections as a pre-emptive critical eye, that is meant to save both families and companies money.

"It will eventually cut down on claims. And when there are fewer claims, there are fewer raises in premiums."

But your premiums could also rise if you don't make the recommended improvements.

Allstate, Vera's company, says homeowners have 5 months.

"If customers do not repair the conditions that are outlined, then they will not be offered a renewal of their homeowner policy," says Jeff Ormond, with Allstate's regional office.

For Vera, no matter how she reads it, this letter means money out of her pocket.

"And again, people are struggling these days to pay their mortgage, their rent, their policy, let alone repairs."

Homeowners should call their insurance agents if they get a letter.

The agent will likely tell them the inspectors will be looking at roof conditions, making sure safety rails are on decks and pools and small details, like fresh paint.

WKYC-TV

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