Just like there are different types of homes, there are also different types of home insurance policies. The type that works best for you depends on the type of home you live in and the coverage you need. There are eight different kinds of homeowners insurance policies to choose from. Knowing more about each policy type and how they differ from one another might help you choose the policy that best fits your insurance coverage needs.

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Key takeaways
  • The most common type of homeowners insurance policy is the standard HO-3 Special Form policy.
  • HO-5 policies offer the broadest coverage of all policy types.
  • Open peril coverage means losses are covered unless specifically excluded, while named peril coverage means only named loss types are covered.

HO–1

An HO-1 policy is the most basic of all the types of homeowners insurance policies. It only provides coverage for the structure of your home, attached structures like garages, and appliances and home features like carpeting. It does not include coverage for personal property, liability or additional living expenses. Because of those limitations, it is not a popular choice for home insurance.

HO-1 insurance is a named perils policy, meaning it only covers your home in specific situations, which typically include:

  • Damage from aircrafts or vehicles
  • Explosions
  • Fire and lightning
  • Hail and windstorms
  • Riots
  • Smoke
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Volcanic eruption

Learn more: HO-1 insurance

HO–2

An HO-2 insurance policy is also known as a broad form and covers your home and your personal belongings. Most home insurance companies will cover your personal belongings up to a specified level no matter where they are at home, in your car or somewhere else. HO-2 policies may include liability coverage in some circumstances. To determine if your HO-2 policy includes liability coverage, contact your insurance carrier directly.

Like an HO-1 policy, HO-2 insurance is a named perils policy that covers your home and your personal items from the same circumstances covered by an HO-1 policy. This policy type covers the same perils that the HO-1 covers, but also adds a few additional perils:

  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam within the home
  • A falling object
  • Freezing of pipes and heating and air conditioning systems
  • Sudden and accidental damage from certain electrical currents
  • Tearing apart, burning, cracking from some household systems
  • Weight from ice, snow or sleet

Learn more: HO-2 insurance

HO-3

The most common type of homeowners insurance is the HO-3 Special Form policy, which covers your home, your personal property, liability, additional living expenses and medical payments.

Personal finance and insurance expert Laura Adams says, “An HO-3 is considered the standard coverage. It gives you ‘open perils’ coverage for your home structure, which protects you from all disasters unless the policy lists exceptions. However, you receive ‘named perils’ coverage for personal possessions, which applies to disasters named in the policy.”

Your home and other structures typically have the following perils excluded:

  • Any animals owned by the insured
  • Birds, rodents, varmint
  • Defective construction or maintenance
  • Earth movement
  • Flood
  • Foundation issues
  • Government actions
  • Intentional loss
  • Mechanical breakdown
  • Mold, fungus, wet rot
  • Neglect
  • Nuclear hazard
  • Ordinance or law
  • Pet or animal damage
  • Pollution and corrosion
  • Power failure
  • Smog, rust, or corrosion
  • Theft, vandalism and frozen pipes in vacant houses
  • Wear and tear
  • War

Since your personal property is covered under named perils, your personal items are usually covered under the following circumstances:

  • Damage from aircrafts or vehicles
  • Damage from the weight of snow or ice
  • Damages caused by an electrical current
  • Explosions
  • Falling objects
  • Fire and lightning
  • Hail and windstorms
  • Pipes freezing
  • Riots
  • Smoke
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Water damage from plumbing or HVAC overflow
  • Water heater damage

Learn more: HO-3 insurance

HO–4

An HO-4 policy, also known as renters insurance, is intended for renters who want to insure their personal belongings and get additional coverage, like liability and additional living expenses. An HO-4 is not technically a “homeowners” policy, as renters don’t own their homes, which is why this policy type excludes coverage for the building’s structure.

Renters insurance policies are usually named perils policies that cover the following events:

  • Damage from aircrafts or vehicles
  • Damage from the weight of snow or ice
  • Damages caused by an electrical current
  • Explosions
  • Falling objects
  • Fire and lightning
  • Hail and windstorms
  • Pipes freezing
  • Riots
  • Smoke
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Water damage from plumbing or HVAC overflow
  • Water heater damage

Learn more: HO-4 insurance

HO–5

An HO-5 policy is the most robust option available, covering your home, your personal belongings, liability, additional living expenses and medical payments for others. These policies may also have higher available limits for things like jewelry compared to the more common HO-3 policy. However, not all home insurers offer HO-5 policies and not all homeowners will qualify for an HO-5 policy due to the more particular guidelines.

Adams discusses how an HO-5 policy could be beneficial for individuals with high-value items. She says, “It typically costs more and may not be offered by every insurer but could be worth it if you have many valuable possessions.”

With an HO-5 policy, your home and your personal items are both covered under an open perils policy, which means that it will protect you from anything not specifically excluded in your policy. Some common exclusions include:

  • Earth movement
  • Government actions or laws
  • Infestation of birds, rodents or insects
  • Intentional loss
  • Mechanical breakdown
  • Mold
  • Nuclear hazard
  • Pets
  • Vandalism if the property is vacant more than two months
  • War
  • Water damages from floods or sewer backup

Because an HO-5 policy is written on an open perils basis rather than on a named perils basis, it covers more circumstances and can make it easier to file a claim because you do not have to prove that a covered peril caused the damage.

Learn more: HO-5 insurance

HO–6

HO-6 insurance is specifically for condo owners. It covers everything inside your unit, as well as personal liability and additional living expenses. Condo policies also typically include some dwelling coverage, as condo owners may be responsible for the interior walls of their units. Because condo residents only own their unit, and not the whole building, the condo association typically has its own insurance policy that protects common areas, grounds and external parts of the building. Condo owners generally help pay for the association’s insurance in the form of condo or HOA fees.

HO-6 policies are named perils policies which generally protect coverage for:

  • Damage from aircrafts or vehicles
  • Damage from the weight of snow or ice
  • Damages caused by an electrical current
  • Explosions
  • Falling objects
  • Fire and lightning
  • Hail and windstorms
  • Pipes freezing
  • Riots
  • Smoke
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Water damage from plumbing or HVAC overflow
  • Water heater damage

Learn more: HO-6 insurance

HO–7

An HO-7 insurance policy covers mobile or manufactured homes, including trailers, sectional homes, RVs and modular homes. This type of policy provides coverage for your home’s structure, your personal belongings, liability, additional living expenses and medical payments.

The exterior of your home is covered under an open perils policy, which covers any situation that is not explicitly stated in your insurance policy.

However, HO-7 policies cover your personal belongings under a named perils policy. That means your personal items are only covered under a specific list of circumstances, including:

  • Damage from aircrafts or vehicles
  • Explosions
  • Fire and lightning
  • Hail and windstorms
  • Riots
  • Smoke
  • Theft
  • Vandalism

HO–8

The last type of homeowners insurance is the HO-8 policy, which is likely ideal for homeowners who have older homes or homes that would be difficult to replace. This includes architecturally significant houses, historic landmark homes or homes built with materials and methods that are not common today. If it would cost more to repair your damaged home than its current value, an HO-8 policy may be a suitable option.

HO-8 policies include the standard coverage for dwelling, personal property, liability, additional living expenses and medical payments. Both your home’s structure and your personal property are covered under a named perils policy. This includes events such as:

  • Damage from aircraft or vehicles
  • Explosions
  • Fire and lightning
  • Hail and windstorms
  • Riots
  • Smoke
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Volcanic eruption

Frequently asked questions

    • While Bankrate has identified some of the cheapest home insurance companies in the nation, the best way to identify the cheapest insurance carrier for you is to reach out for a quote. Your home insurance premiums could vary depending on your coverage selections, risk factors in your area, deductible amount and more.
    • Homeowners insurance costs vary significantly between people. However, the average cost of home insurance in the United States is $1,383 per year for $250,000 in dwelling coverage. You should get an idea of how much homeowners insurance costs in your area by doing research and getting several quotes.
    • There are eight types of home insurance. They are classified as HO-1 through HO-8. Each category is designed for a different type of home with its own coverages.
    • Each type of homeowners insurance is geared towards a different homeowner, and each has limitations. According to Adams, “No matter which type of home insurance you have, the peril must be accidental and sudden. If you have damage caused by negligence on your part, it won’t be covered.” Additionally, some natural disasters, like flood and earthquakes, are generally excluded from homeowners policies and will usually require a separate earthquake or flood insurance policy for coverage.
    • Whether your homeowners insurance is named peril or open peril depends on the policy you are purchasing and whether your insurance company offers that type of coverage. As a policyholder, you are generally not able to amend the policy terms unless it is to turn down specific coverage options in writing. As such, it may be beneficial to speak with a knowledgeable licensed agent in your area.
    • Home insurance might not be legally required like car insurance is, but it can be a requirement from your financial institution if you have a mortgage loan or lien on your home. Even if you owe no money on your home, a homeowners insurance policy could still be useful in protecting your finances. In the event of a total or significant covered loss, you wouldn’t need to pay the full cost of repairs out-of-pocket.