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Electrical Panels and Insurance Coverage

Welcome to the latest edition of NBI’s Home Inspection Newsletter! In this issue, we will delve into the types of electrical panels that insurance carriers may be hesitant to insure, and what steps homeowners can take to secure the coverage they need.

 

Understanding Electrical Panels

 

Electrical panels are the heart of your home's electrical system, distributing electricity to different circuits throughout your house. While most electrical panels are perfectly safe, there are certain older models that have raised concerns among insurance carriers. Understanding the types of panels that may pose insurance challenges is crucial for homeowners.

 

Problematic Electrical Panel Types:

 

1. Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Panels: FPE panels, manufactured from the 1950s to the 1980s, have a history of safety issues, including circuit breakers that may not trip when overloaded. Insurance carriers often view homes with FPE panels as higher risks.

 

2. Zinsco or Zinsco-Sylvania: Zinsco or Zinsco-Sylvania panels, also produced in the mid-20th century, have been associated wit problems like circuit breakers not functioning correctly. Many insurance companies are cautious about homes with these panels.

3. Pushmatic Panels: Pushmatic panels, commonly installed in homes built between the 1950s and 1980s, are known for thei obsolescence and limited availability of replacement parts. Insurance carriers may be concerned about the lack of readily available components.

Securing Insurance for Homes with Problematic Panels

 

If your home has one of these problematic electrical panels and you're struggling to secure insurance coverage, here are some steps to consider:

 

1. Upgrade Your Electrical Panel: Replacing your problematic electrical panel with a modern, safer option is the most effective way to address insurance concerns. Consult a licensed electrician to ensure the replacement is done correctly and up to current code.

 

2. Document the Upgrade: After upgrading your electrical panel, document the process with photographs, invoices, and any necessary permits. These documents will serve as proof of the improvement to share with your insurance carrier.

 

3. Obtain an Inspection: Consider hiring a professional home inspection company such as NBI to evaluate your electrical system and provide an inspection report. This can help assure insurance carriers of the safety of your electrical system.

 

4. Shop Around for Insurance: Not all insurance carriers have the same policies and guidelines regarding problematic panels. It's worth shopping around to find a company that is more willing to insure your home after the necessary upgrades.

 

5. Consider an Insurance Broker: An insurance broker can help you navigate the complexities of finding coverage for your home, especially if you have a problematic electrical panel. They have access to multiple insurance companies and can find the best solution for your unique situation.

 

The Cost to Replace an Electrical Subpanel

 

The cost to replace an electrical subpanel in the San Francisco Bay Area can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the complexity of the job, the size of the subpanel, the existing electrical system, and local labor and material costs. As of October 2023, here are some approximate cost ranges to consider:

 

Basic Replacement: For a straightforward subpanel replacement without the need for extensive rewiring or significant upgrades, you might be looking at a cost of $1,000 to $2,500. This typically includes labor, materials, and the new subpanel itself.

 

Upgrades and Rewiring: If your electrical system needs upgrades, including a new main disconnect panel or if rewiring is required to accommodate the new subpanel, costs can escalate. This might range from $4,500 to $25,000 or more, depending on the extent of the work.

 

Permit Costs: Don't forget to factor in permit costs, which can vary from city to city. You'll need to obtain the necessary permits for electrical work, and the cost will depend on local regulations.

 

Labor Costs: Labor costs can vary, but electricians in the Bay Area generally charge higher rates compared to many other regions. Hourly rates for licensed electricians may range from $80 to $150 or more.

 

Material Costs: The cost of the subpanel, circuit breakers, wiring, and other materials can vary depending on the brand and specifications you choose.

 

Additional Considerations: If your home has unique challenges, such as difficult access to the electrical panel location, the need for trenching or conduit installation, or if your project requires additional electrical work beyond the subpanel replacement, these factors can significantly impact the total cost.

 

Keep in mind that these are approximate cost ranges, and prices are constantly changing. To get an accurate estimate for your specific situation, it's essential to contact local electricians or electrical contractors in the Bay Area. They can assess your needs, inspect your existing electrical system, and provide you with a detailed quote based on your specific requirements and local conditions. Additionally, be sure to obtain multiple quotes to compare prices and services to make an informed decision.

 

Conclusion

 

Homeowners with problematic electrical panels do have options to secure insurance coverage. Taking proactive steps to upgrade and document the safety of your electrical system, as well as seeking out the right insurance provider, can help ease the process. Remember, the safety of your home is paramount, and addressing these electrical panel issues not only secures insurance but also ensures your family's well-being.

 

 

NBI (National Building Inspectors) is one of California's largest known privately owned
Residential and Commercial Property Inspection companies.

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