As a homeowner, insurance is one of the most important means of protecting your investment. In order to obtain or be reissued an insurance policy, however, you're often required to pass an inspection, which can be a nerve-racking hassle. You may have little or even no notice at all about an inspection, depending on your insurance company! That's why you should always be able to prove you're a responsible, safety-conscious homeowner.

If you have an inspection scheduled, start getting ready now; if you never know when your insurer may come knocking, stay on top of all the issues that are most important to the company which will pay out any future claims pertaining to your property.

The following information will not only help you to prepare for your inspection, it should help you to pass it with flying colors.

1. Look for Liabilities

Approach your property the way an insurance agent will: look for ways in which people can be hurt and by looking for ways in which property can easily be damaged. For example, an unsecured pool area is a major red flag, as is a gigantic, untied Rottweiler on the front lawn. Trees that are overgrown could be threatening to smash nearby windows or power lines, leading to untold disasters. Walk your property and imagine you're hapless, clumsy and prone to filing personal injury lawsuits and that should give you a good idea of the view your inspector will have.

2. Write Out a Maintenance Report

If you don't already keep a maintenance schedule for your home, noting when different elements were repaired or otherwise modified or updated, write one out now. Keep adding things to the report until you have a good idea of everything that's been going on throughout the property, pertaining to keeping it in good shape. This report should cover everything involved in regular home maintenance and follow-up for any major complications. Keep this paperwork handy for when the inspector visits.

3. Check the Home's Wiring & Electrical Aspects

If you have the know-how yourself, it's important to ensure that no electrical mishaps are likely to occur in your house. Loose wires, over-crowded or broken outlets, lights that spark when turned on or switches going nowhere are just a few examples of what inspectors will be on the lookout for. If your knowledge of electrical matters isn't too extensive, you may wish to consult with an electrician prior to the inspection, most especially if there seem to be any issues, even small.

4. Make Like a Plumber & Inspect All Pipes

Water damage is a major factor of your home's health; thus, the company insuring it wants to be sure the pipes are sealed and secure. You don't want to leave faucets dripping and you don't want to have water stains glaring at the inspector from the ceiling. Such issues could raise your insurance rates, require immediate repairs be made or be the cause of denial of coverage. Not to mention the fact that you really don't want water problems creeping up around your home.

5. Add Fresh Batteries to Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

For inspection reasons and for the safety of all occupants, have all the safety alarms needed for the size of the home and function of each room installed and see that they work properly. If you can't recall the last time you added fresh batteries, just do it now, while you're thinking of it. While these devices are necessary to satisfy the rules of the home inspection, as well as a fire-safety inspection, they could also save lives.

6. Hang a Fire Extinguisher Up in Your Kitchen

Being safety-conscious enough to have fire extinguishers at your fingertips near stoves and fireplaces is going to make you look really smart to the inspectors, but they could also come in really handy, as seven people are killed by house fires every day in America. The presence of extinguishers that are maintained may lower your insurance costs, too.

7. Be Sure You're Living on a Solid Foundation

Damage can occur to a home in many forms, from contracting in freezing temps to shuddering during an earthquake and if your foundation is compromised in any way, that could easily compound the damage or cause catastrophic failure. An insurer looks at the likelihood of a claim being filed from your position; thus, any existing damage is a strike or more against you.

8. Have a Look at Your Roof

Since a leaking roof can result in all kinds of indoor damage to the home itself and everything in it, that's another area open to scrutiny during an inspection. So long as there aren't numerous missing tiles or areas where rain can enter, you shouldn't have an issue, but while you're up there, check for sagging, too, especially if you reside in an area where heavy amounts of snow can sit on the roof for extended periods.

9. Clean Out Your Garage, Attic & Basement

If you've been putting off cleaning out these alternative spaces in your home, now is a good time to take care of them. The garage should not be over-crowded with hanging items and other obstacles and if you have an automatic door, see that it's functioning properly. Up in your attic and down in your basement, check for structural issues, dangling wires, leaking, weak floor boards and any other issues that could complicate your inspection.

10. Prowl Like a Burglar

If you can't completely close and shut all your windows, an insurance inspector may be inclined to believe the home is vulnerable to break-ins. Although having burglar alarms would very likely lower the amount you pay for insurance, they're not required; however, the home should be secured in every way possible. If someone could get into your garage, could they easily manage their way into the main house? Would it be easy to jimmy-up your old windows? Ask yourself how a criminal could violate your house, then fix any possible weaknesses.

While going through a home inspection may not be at the top of your list of favorite activities, it really can help you provide the best coverage needed to protect your home, as well as to protect you financially in other ways, such as if someone is injured on your property. Make sure you're prepared for the inspection and that you've set yourself up to pass with flying colors. Thereafter, you can go back to the business of enjoying your home, with the peace of mind that comes with knowing all your bases are covered.

For more information, contact services like Gateway Insurance.