Question from an IIABNY member: I have a client that is upset that his insurance company completed an inspection of his property without his consent. He feels that this may be considered trespassing. I spoke with the carrier and they state: "In insurance, there is implied consent to inspect property based on our contractual, insurable interest in the home." Just wondering if you have any research on implied consent to complete a property inspection. I did some internet research and didn’t see anything official but did see several times that the insurance company should have permission to complete an inspection.
Answer: Some policies give the carrier the right to inspect. For example, AAIS form HO 0003 01 06 states in the policy conditions:
“6. Inspections -- ‘We’ have the right, but are not obligated, to inspect ‘your’ property and operations. This inspection may be made by ‘us’ or may be made on ‘our’ behalf. An inspection or its resulting advice or report does not warrant that ‘your’ property or operations are safe, healthful, or in compliance with laws, rules, or regulations. Inspections or reports are for ‘our’ benefit only.”
The ISO Homeowners 3 policy form does not contain a similar condition, though it does require the named insured, after a loss, to show the damaged property as often as the insurer reasonably requires. Some proprietary company forms may contain a condition similar to the AAIS condition.
I did a quick search for court cases about inspection of homes by insurers and did not find anything. It seems more than a bit discourteous of the insurer to drop in and inspect the home without contacting the insured first, but I don’t know that an inspection rises to the level of trespassing. Law.com gives this legal definition of trespass:
“n. entering another person's property without permission of the owner or his/her agent and without lawful authority (like that given to a health inspector) and causing any damage, no matter how slight. Any interference with the owner's (or a legal tenant's) use of the property is a sufficient showing of damage and is a civil wrong (tort) sufficient to form the basis for a lawsuit against the trespasser by the owner or a tenant using the property. Trespass includes erecting a fence on another's property or a roof which overhangs a neighbor's property, swinging the boom of a crane with loads of building materials over another's property, or dumping debris on another's real estate. In addition to damages, a court may grant an injunction prohibiting any further continuing, repeated or permanent trespass. Trespass for an illegal purpose is a crime.”
I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me that, if the insurer’s inspector didn’t damage anything, then this doesn’t meet the legal definition of trespass. Regardless, the customer is upset, and that’s not the best way to earn customer loyalty.