As a home inspector, your job is to evaluate the overall safety and soundness of your clients’ homes. Completing best-in-class home inspector training transforms you into a reliable source of expertise, guidance, and peace of mind for your clients.
Along the way, you need peace of mind, too. This may take the form of benefits offered through your employer if you choose to work for an established inspection company. Or, as an independent home inspector, you have the freedom to research and select the policies that work best for you, without the limitations of what a company can offer.
Handling coverage yourself may feel daunting at first, but don’t stress. With a little research and a plan, you can secure the peace of mind you need for you and your family.
Read on to learn how to handle your benefits coverage as a new home inspector.
Consider the Benefits Coverage You Need
First and foremost, when you become a home inspector, decide if you’ll work for yourself or join an established inspection company. The answer to this question informs whether you’ll be 100% responsible for funding your own benefits, or if the company you work for might share the cost of the perks. We’ll dive into both options, so you know exactly what to expect, regardless of which path you take.
According to the Academy to Innovate HR, traditional employment benefits span these four categories:
- Insurance. Includes all types of health insurance policies – such as medical, dental, and vision – as well as life insurance and short- and long-term disability insurance.
- Retirement Plan. Includes 401K plans, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and pensions.
- Paid Time Off. Includes paid holidays, sick leave, vacation days, personal time off (PTO), family leave, bereavement leave, and even sabbaticals.
- Additional Compensation. Includes commissions, bonuses, performance awards, profit-sharing, and stock options.
If you’re leaving a 9-5 job, you probably have a good idea of the benefits you need to continue for you and your family. If you’re not sure, take some time and consider what you need and what you can live without for a short time while you launch your home inspection career. Knowing your goals ahead of time helps focus your research when it’s time to shop around.
Handling Benefits Coverage When You’re an Independent Home Inspector
Most home inspectors working in the U.S. are self-employed. Thus, they pay their own self-employment taxes and fund their own employment benefits.
If you’re in this group, there are a few strategies you can use to find the most affordable and best coverage for your needs. Plus, these rules of thumb aren’t limited to home inspectors either – they’re ideal for all entrepreneurs breaking out on their own.
Set Up ‘Must-Have’ Policies and Revisit ‘Nice-To-Haves’ As Your Business Grows
When you’re self-employed and just starting out, it’s important to separate your “must-have” needs from your “nice-to-have” needs and consider what you can live without for a little while. As your business grows and becomes more profitable, you’ll have more resources to invest in the benefits you’d like to have as a safety net.
For example, you may choose to buy healthcare and disability coverage initially. And you might suspend any contributions you’re making to a retirement plan while your business gets off the ground. It’s all up to you and your preferences.
Plan for the Cost of Benefits
If possible, set aside a small nest egg you can use to fund your health insurance plans and cover any time off before you begin working as a home inspector. Doing this helps cover your needs while you’re launching your business and building it into a thriving one. Deposit these savings in an account that’s separate from your business expense account for security.
Shop Around Insurers
There are three approaches you can use to shop for all the types of health insurance you may need as an independent home inspector.
Shop the Health Insurance Marketplace
First, you can check Healthcare.gov, the U.S. government’s health insurance marketplace. Here, you can browse the plans you’re eligible for, estimate pricing, and see if you qualify for discounted premiums and tax credits.
Shop a Private Insurer
You always have the choice of buying individual healthcare coverage through a private insurer. In the U.S., there are nearly 1,000 health insurance companies operating. Some are especially ideal providers for self-employed workers and are worth checking out.
Shop a Health Insurance Brokerage
A health insurance broker offers insurance plans from multiple insurers. Often, brokers can provide guidance on the insurance policy buying process and make recommendations based on your budget, needs, and preferences.
Leverage Professional Memberships
As you shop, it’s a good idea to check into your professional memberships to see if they offer discounted benefits plans as a perk.
For example, both the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI®) and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) offer member-only discounts with specific insurers for medical, dental, vision, life, accident, disability insurance, and more.
Both organizations also offer discounts on Errors and Omissions (E&O) and General Liability (GL) insurance, which are both must-haves for home inspectors. AHIT does too. Be sure to check out our discounted home inspector insurance with OREP.
You might also consider looking into the membership benefits available through the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE). It may be worth joining to qualify for discounted insurance rates.
Handling Benefits Coverage When You Work for a Home Inspection Company
As an employee of a multi-inspector company – or a franchisee of a home inspection franchise – your options for benefits coverage may resemble those of traditional employment. Your company may offer you discounted healthcare coverage, a retirement plan, paid time off, discounted E&O insurance, and other perks.
When you begin working for a multi-inspector firm, be sure to evaluate your employment agreement and consider the employee-sponsored benefits offered to you. In some cases, you may still need to shop for benefits as if you’re an independent home inspector. What’s important is that you make the best choice in coverage for you, your family, and your finances.
Don’t Forget – You Need Business Insurance
As a new home inspector, it’s important to carry business insurance to protect your home inspection business (and any small business for that matter).
For home inspectors, E&O insurance and GL coverage protect you against potential claims that involve your professional work, accidents, property damage, and bodily injury on the job. You might also consider commercial auto insurance and a general business owner’s policy. Business owner’s policies cover equipment (like home inspection tools, drones, or inspection bots), your place of business (if you’re renting an office), and lost income due to business interruption.
Invest in Best-In Class Home Inspection Training for the Most Peace of Mind
Before you consider benefits coverage as a working home inspector, consider your training. AHIT’s home inspector training course, home inspection certification programs, and professional development courses teach you the fundamentals of inspection and keep you current, wherever you are in your career. Find your state course and get started today.