What should I look for in a self-inspection?

A home self-inspection formally documents your home’s current condition.

Serious young woman in checkered shirt inspecting the faucet in her kitchen

What is a home self-inspection?

A home self-inspection is a free and convenient way to provide your insurance company with information it needs about your property’s condition. Instead of scheduling an appointment with an inspector, you can use your smartphone or tablet to take photos of your home’s major systems and other key features to send to your insurer.

Homeowners who join Kin may be asked to do a self-inspection after their home insurance policies bind. We’ll notify you by email whether or not you need one. If we do ask for a self-inspection, you’ll need to complete it within 7 days of the policy’s effective date for new home purchases and within 7 days of signing up for a policy if you already live in the property.

For more details on our process, please see our Help Center article What is a self-inspection and how long do I have to complete it?

Self-inspections checklist

Your insurer will likely let you know if you need a home inspection. We do this first with an email from our team. Then, you’ll get an email and text with a link to our home self-inspection provider.

Once you start, the system will guide you through each step of the process with easy multiple-choice questions. You'll be prompted to take photos inside and outside of the home with your mobile device. These images will automatically (and securely) go directly to us.

To complete your inspection, you’ll need to take photos of the following.

All four sides of the home to show the roof and ground

This documents your home’s exterior, including its roof shape, gutters, and foundation. You always hear a picture is worth a thousand words, and it’s true.

Note: Never, ever, ever get on the roof to take an inspection picture!


A furnace usually has a life of 16 to 20 years. If yours is past its prime, it might need to be updated to ensure your home’s safety.

HVAC system

There are a lot of things to know about your HVAC system, but lifespan is one of the more important ones. For example, an air conditioning unit typically has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, and its serial number will show how many years of use it may have left.

All plumbing, including under all sinks and toilet shut-off valves

This will help document the type of piping you have.

Electrical panel and the manufacturer label

Older electrical systems can be a big fire risk, which is why we check both the panel and the manufacturer. Knob and tube wiring, for example, is usually ungrounded and can cause electric shocks. Learn more in Replace these recalled electrical panels ASAP.

Water heater and the manufacturer label

Tank-style water heaters usually have a lifespan of 10 to 14 years, whereas tankless water heaters may last about 19 years. This photo will give us an idea about how much life your system might have left.

Pool, if applicable

Because pools increase the risk of an injury happening on your property, we always want to check that they are properly secured and not standing empty. If you do have a swimming pool, it might be smart to increase your personal liability coverage.

Sheds and outbuildings, if applicable

Your home insurance policy includes coverage for other structures on your property. We usually recommend insuring your other structures at about 10% of your dwelling coverage. So if your house is insured for $200,000, you'll typically have $20,000 in protection for your detached garage, fence, shed, and other unattached structures.

Self-inspection tips

  • Take exterior photos in daylight.

  • Take a clear photo of the manufacturer's label on the electrical panel.

  • Don’t climb anything to get a photo of the roof! From the ground, take a few steps back to make sure your roof is visible in your shot.

  • If you can’t access parts of the property (e.g., the attic) or the photo isn’t applicable, take a blank picture.

  • If you aren’t currently at the property, forward the inspection link to a trusted friend, family member, or tenant.

Please be careful when taking photos of your home. Happy inspecting!

Why do home insurance companies require home inspections?

Most providers require home inspections for insurance either before or after issuing a policy, especially those in catastrophe-prone states like Florida. This is to make sure the home meets underwriting requirements. The inspection may also reveal some repairs that need to be made in order for your home to be eligible for insurance. 

Another plus to home inspections for your insurer? They document current issues, which can help limit the chance of accidental claims for damage that already existed.

Remember, not every homeowner is required to get a home inspection, but there are times when your insurance company asks for one. Read about other examples in Do you need an inspection for home insurance?


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