The Critical Role of Electrical Panels on Insurance

Navigating the Good, the Bad, and the Risky

Electrical panels, the conductor of a home’s electrical system, serve as the central hub where electricity from the utility company is distributed into various circuits to supply power throughout your property. These panels ensure the safety and efficiency of your electrical system, guarding against potential electrical fires by managing the flow of electrical current. However, not all electrical panels are created equal. The distinction between good and bad types of electrical panels not only affects the safety and functionality of your home but also plays a significant role in insurance considerations.

Claims Involvement: The Importance of Electrical Panel Types to Insurance Companies

Insurance companies pay close attention to the type of electrical panel in a home during the insurance inspection process, more commonly called the 4-Point Inspection. The concern over certain types of panels—such as those manufactured by Federal Pacific Electric, Zinsco Sylvania, and Challenger—stems from their historical performance and the associated risks they pose. These panels have been known to fail to trip in the case of an overload or short-circuit, significantly increasing the risk of electrical fires or overheating breakers in the case of Challenger.

Problematic Electrical Panels: Identifying Risk Factors

Specific electrical panels have been identified as problematic due to their high failure rates and the potential danger they present. For example, Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Stab-Lok panels installed between the 1950s and 1980s are notorious for their failure to trip under overload conditions. Similarly, Zinsco panels, identifiable by their unique colored breakers, can fail to operate properly due to the design and age of the equipment, leaving homeowners at risk for electrical fires.

Moreover, aluminum wiring, used extensively in homes built or renovated during the 1970s, presents its own set of challenges, including a greater chance for loose connections and overheating, thereby increasing fire risk. To mitigate these hazards, specific connectors were made to avoid the conditions presented when aluminum meats a dissimilar metal. This is called Aluminum Mitigation.

Historical Perspective: Ages of Panels and Wiring Materials

Understanding the era during which certain electrical panels and wiring materials were prevalent provides insight into potential risks. For example, the use of aluminum wiring peaked when copper prices were high, and similarly, the popularity of certain panels aligns with historical construction booms. Recognizing the age of your home’s electrical panel and wiring can signal the need for an inspection and potential upgrade to ensure compliance with current safety standards and 4-Point Inspection underwriting requirements.

Financial Aspects: The Costs of Replacement or Mitigation

Replacing an outdated or unsafe electrical panel or addressing issues with aluminum wiring can be a significant investment. However, the costs must be weighed against the potential risks of maintaining hazardous electrical components and the cost of your insurance policy. On average, panel replacement can vary widely in price depending on the complexity of the installation and local labor rates. A ball park could be between $1,000-2,500 per panel. Additionally, mitigation strategies for homes with aluminum wiring, such as the use of Alum-icon or Cop-alum connectors, can provide a safer, less costly alternative to complete rewiring. These vary between $100-$300 per outlet/light.


The type of electrical panel in your home is more than a matter of technicality—it’s a critical component affecting safety as well as financial and insurance outcomes. Recognizing the differences between good and bad panels, along with the financial implications of upgrades or mitigation, empowers homeowners to make informed decisions. Whether you’re getting a 4-Point or adding the Wind Mitigation too Orlando Inspex invites every homeowner to engage with us, ask questions, and use our expertise to get a hands on look into your homes electrical system.Let us turn your concerns into confidence as we inspect and advise on the best course of action for your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does an electrical panel impact home insurance?

Insurance companies evaluate the type of electrical panel during home inspections to assess the risk of electrical fires. Certain panels known for their failure rates can lead to higher insurance premiums or even difficulty obtaining coverage.

What are the signs that my electrical panel needs replacement?

Signs include frequent circuit breaker tripping, signs of electrical fires (like scorch marks), outdated panels (like Federal Pacific Electric or Zinsco), and any use of aluminum wiring which increases the risk of fire.

What is a 4-Point Inspection?

A 4-Point Inspection focuses on four main areas of a home: the HVAC system, electrical wiring and panels, plumbing connections and fixtures, and the roof. It’s often required by insurance companies for older homes to assess their condition and insurability.

Can aluminum wiring be made safe, or does it need to be completely replaced?

Aluminum wiring can be made safer through the use of copper pigtails, a process that involves connecting a short piece of copper wire to the aluminum wire before attaching it to the electrical device. This method can significantly reduce the risk of overheating and fire.

For further reading on electrical panels and wiring during home inspections, visit: