Inspect and Protect

Thanks to all who have e-mailed and called with their kind words regarding this latest book. It really is important reading, and I’m glad so many people feel the same.
If you haven’t taken a look, you can do so here: keithswift.com
Happy Holidays,
Keith

Keith,
I received my copy, thanks for the great information!!!

I do have a few questions for you in regards to your book…

Your book states that 25% of inspectors are sued on average, as for a breakdown in statistics, I wonder how many of these inspectors are not using professional programs, such as InspectVue, Homeguage, etc. etc. I wonder how many out of the 25% are inexperienced, not practicing due diligence, etc. And yes, I know that we are “all” targets to unsavory clients and their attorneys… that’s a given. I did see that about 70% of the claims are bogus, but most are settled by Insurance Companies.

Also, as for E and O Insurance…since you have had prior claims, did your rates increase or did any of your Insurance Carriers threaten to not renew your policy due to your claims? And even if the claims are “bogus”… what is the General response of the Insurance Companies…

I also saw that you met the “Inspector to the Stars”… And even he mentioned to you that he has been sued… Did this guy mention anything else, or how he tapped into inspections for the Rich and Famous?!?

I am really enjoying reading your Book… and I will strongly recommend it to other Inspectors.

Thanks for being here for all of us!

Justin.
www.americandreamhomeinspection.net

I’m not Keith, but…

My attorneys track appropriate court cases for me here in San Diego County. They report that (as of July 2006) fully 84% of lawsuits against home inspectors involve checklist and/or handwritten reports. Lawsuits against the inexperienced are just as prevalent as lawsuits against the most experienced. Lawsuits against home inspectors in my county form a perfect U-shaped curve. Apparently the inexperienced get sued because they miss things or state things poorly through the very nature of their inexperience. I think the most experienced get sued because they either become complacent or forgetful.

I have tapped into it by marketing differently to the Realtors who work with the rich and famous. I don’t include gift checks/discount coupons when marketing to them, I raise my prices when marketing to them, and I offer more than the typicaly home inspection when working with them. I call them my PREMIUM and TECH inspections.

Hey, Keith.

Got the two books. Thanks very much.

I plan on reading them during the holidays.

RR - thanks for the information… An attorney that I spoke to also mentioned that for most clients to sue… it will cost them a retainer up front, and most people do not want to cough up a $5,000 retainer to kick off the suit, unless they truly have the money, or have a shark that will work cases with little or no merit for a contigency…

An attorney called me this week regarding a case involving a child that drown in a pool, asking me information of whether or not a “pool maintenance” person (guy that cleans the pool) is responsible for installing safety devices (fencing, alarms, etc.). It seemed that the homeowners were trying to blame someone else for their child’s death…

I told the attorney, without knowing all of the details regarding the case, that the property owners are primarily responsible for installing the pool safety devices, and should ensure that they are installed…

The attorney thanked me for the information provided, and that ended the call… He didn’t like my opinion!

Just like Keith mentions in his book, people are always trying to “transfer” blame on to someone else… Make someone else “pay” for their losses…

Russell -

I wonder if its the area, but in the past 5 years I’ve been hired to review, rebut, attack or defend the work of 42 other inspectors that were being sued. Only 3 of them were checklists. The others were computerized or typed narrative reports.

Not necessarily. Those were the newbies who were still working out their reporting protocols, the oldies who had become complacent, and/or the oldies who were still not as computer savvy as might be desired.

Gentlemen:
This is a complicated subject. I hope to give a seminar at Inspection Universe where we can all share our experiences. All I know is what happened to me and NONE OF IT was nice, and, yes, my insurance was cancelled, and, yes, my rates were increased, and, yes, I was indisputably innocent of any wrongdoing, and this was when I’d been doing inspection for a long time, had been a hands-on builder, and really did not my “sh*t,” as Todd Allen once graciously observed. The system is easily corrupted, and we must do everything we can to “avoid litigation,” which is the thesis of Inspect and Protect. I don’t want to brag, but the book has been well recieved because it tells the truth and substantiates it with hard facts. Good luck, and happy holidays. You, gentlemen make me proud to be a part of NACHI.

I hadn’t really thought about it, but looking backwards the 3 checklist lawsuits were all newbies (under 4 years). The computerized report lawsuits were across the board, but mostly veterans using typed or computerized reporting systems. Bottom line they were about equally divided between those that said way too much & got in trouble by being too talky (very easy for a judge, jury, arbitrator, etc to see how confused the poor buyer was - the inspector just rambled on and on rather than just saying "its broke - fix it)) AND those inspectors that contradicted themselves in the report - making it easy to tear apart. For example doing something stupid like, stating the roof was not visible and therefore not inspected AND then turning around 2 paragraphs later, and stating it shows normal wear for its age ???

Probably 30% - 35% were past builders, contractors or engineers.

I guess there’s a “truth,” in all of this, and the truth is that it’s a numbers game. Do enough inspections, and you’ll be threatened with a lawsuit or sued. That’s why “avoiding litigation” is the ultimate answer. Use specilaized instruments, take pictures, disclaim not once but two and three times, go beyond the standards if it serves your purpose. But, having said that, don’t listen to me; do what you must do and do it well.

That’s what my attorneys and my insurance companies advised me back in July 2001. So I disclaim verbally when scheduling the inspection, verbally again at the inspection, in my inspection agreement, and in various places in my [Interactive Report System](abouthomes.info is available for purchase - Sedo.com for NACHI members.pdf). They’ve got to see the appropriate disclaimers at least once!

I think this post has been a great brainstorming session… I agree with everyone’s point… lawsuits are a lottery, you never know which client is going to sue you. It may not be the “picky” client, but the shy client that does not ask any questions… It may not be the wealthly client who is an attorney, but the poor client who has a brother that is an attorney that is a “specialist” in legal extortion, or “civil litigation”.

You may prepare the best report and had conducted the best inspection… and you can still get sued! All we can do is the best inspection possible…and use every “defense” possible, people skills, tools, equipment, etc. etc.

Its really just minimizing our risks… that’s all we can do.

Russel, is that you in a pile of leaves? I don’t like it at all; reminds me of grave site. I much prefer your former image. Try a new one, say something more in keeping with your illustrious reputation, something that reflects “the Right Honorable Russel Ray,” for instance. Now that does have a nice ring to it.

Hey, that was quite an honorable situation that resulted in me in the pile of leaves.

A few years ago we were doing an inspection for a couple with three children. It was after Thanksgiving but still a couple of weeks before Christmas. The couple came, signed the agreement, paid us, and we went about our work. About halfway through the inspection, we noticed that there were just three kids running around the house and outdoors playing. No parents to be found anywhere. “Where are your parents?” I asked the oldest one (I think his name was Jason). “They went Christmas shopping. They told us to stay here and play.” Well, we finished the inspection and mom and dad were not back yet, so we played with the kids, which resulted in them covering us with leaves. The next day, when I delivered the report (that was back in the printed-report/take-time-out-for-personal-delivery-and-use-lots-of-gas-paper-and-ink-days), there was an envelope waiting for me at the front desk. Inside the envelope was a check for $100 and a note thanking us for taking care of the kids–“They had a lot of fun.” I love children as long as someone comes and picks them up when I’m finished with them. This was such a situation.

A lovely Christmas tale, but without it the avatar does nothing to show you as the font of fairness and wisdom. Hence, my metaphorically dubbing you, NACHI’s The Right Honorable Russel Ray, Esq.