As you’re purchasing home insurance you’re probably running into a lot of terms and acronyms you don’t use in your everyday life One of the most common questions we get is: what do those HO numbers mean on my insurance form? HO stands for homeowner, and those “HO-numbers” refer to the different kinds of home insurance policies that insurance companies offer.

In this article, we’ll provide information to help you decide which kind of homeowners insurance policy you should consider for your house, so you can feel confident in your insurance decision.


HO-3: Homeowners Insurance Policy

Many homeowners will have an HO-3 policy, this is the most common home insurance policy, accounting for nearly 80% of owner-occupied homes. An HO-3 policy offers dwelling, property, and liability coverage.

HO-3 policies usually cover dwelling, personal property, liability, and loss of use coverage.

  • Dwelling coverage can protect the physical structure of your house and the limit is usually based on the cost to rebuild your home. In the case of a covered loss, you would be reimbursed the cost to replace or repair the home.
  • Personal property (aka contents coverage) can cover your belongings at your home, like furniture, electronics, and clothing.  This coverage is typically paid out at actual cash value, meaning you will receive the value of any particular item at the time of a covered loss. Some companies will let you add a replacement cost endorsement for your personal property coverage for an additional cost. Replacement cost coverage reimburses you for the amount to replace an item for current market value up to the policy limit.
  • Liability coverage can help cover damages such as medical expenses, and related legal costs if you are found legally responsible for someone else’s injury while they are on your property. It may also cover some liability off your property. Learn more about liability coverage here.
  • Loss of use can cover additional living expenses if you temporarily need to live elsewhere while your home is being repaired after a covered loss. 

The dwelling portion of HO-3 policies is typically “open peril,” meaning that perils are covered unless specifically excluded. The personal property portion of HO-3 policies may be open peril or named peril. Named peril coverage means only those situations specifically included in the policy are covered.

Common exclusions in open peril policies are typically: earthquakes, floods, power failure, neglect, war, nuclear hazard, government action, intentional loss, vandalism if the home is vacant for  a certain period of time, mold or fungus (unless related to a covered peril), wear and tear, mechanical breakdown, smog or rust, smoke from industrial operations, discharge or seepage of pollutants, animal damage, or damage caused by settling, shrinking, bulging, or expanding.

Make sure to check the exclusions on your policy. You may want to purchase additional endorsements or policies, like flood insurance and earthquake insurance, if your home is at risk for these perils.

Note: Have any other structures on your property, like a shed or detached garage? That’s typically covered under ‘Other Structures’ (also called Coverage B). for more information on this coverage click here!


HO-8: Modified Coverage Form[1]

The HO-8 form is usually reserved for older homes that are at higher risk of loss due to the age of the wiring, plumbing, or structure.

HO-8 coverage generally only covers certain named perils, and it reimburses damages from a covered loss with actual cash value as opposed to replacement cost, meaning it takes depreciation into account. This option may be considered by people who have an older home. However, keep in mind that an HO-8 policy generally provides less protection than an HO-3 policy.  


HO-6: Condo Insurance

If you own a condo or live in a co-op, you’ll likely have an HO-6 policy. This is sometimes called a “walls-in” policy because it can provide protection within the walls of your condo for certain items like the floors, ceilings, light fixtures, inside structures, and personal belongings. This functions like an HO-3 policy with regards to personal property, liability, and loss of use coverage. It does not include the external structure or building common areas, which would usually be covered by your condo association’s policy.

Learn more about whether you have enough condo insurance here and check out these other common exclusions from condo insurance.


HO-4: Contents Broad Form (Renters Insurance)

The HO-4 policy is referred to as the “contents broad” form because it only covers personal belongings, not dwelling. This insurance is primarily used by renters, rather than homeowners. In the event of a covered loss, the HO-4 policy protects a renter’s personal belongings against named perils such as things like fire, hail, and vandalism covered at replacement cost value up to the policy limit.

HO-4 does not include dwelling coverage, so it will not cover damage to the structure of the unit. That is typically the landlord’s responsibility (under their landlord insurance).

This coverage can cover your personal property, whether the item is currently in the rental unit or elsewhere when it is damaged or stolen. So, if your purse is stolen while traveling or your laptop is snatched from a coffee shop, these items could still be covered under your renter’s insurance.

Learn how much personal property coverage you need for renters insurance here. Not sure if you have enough coverage? Learn what renters insurance covers and what kinds of optional policies you might want to consider to supplement your renters insurance.


HO-7: Mobile Home Insurance[2]

If you own a mobile home, you will want an HO-7 policy. This is like an HO-3 policy but specifically designed to suit the unique needs of mobile homes. An HO-7 form can protect the physical structure of your mobile home as well as your belongings. It is typically a named peril policy, although some policies are open peril with exclusions.

This policy is only for use if you live in your mobile or manufactured home, and it is not in transit. If you only use your mobile home for recreational purposes, you will instead want RV insurance (which is a hybrid of home and auto coverage).


So, which kind of home insurance policy do I need?

For single-family dwellings, the HO-3 is typically the option that works for most people. If you own a condo, you’ll want an HO-6 policy. If you rent, you’ll likely want an HO-4 policy. If you own a mobile home, you’ll want an HO-7 policy.

Still not sure what kind of home insurance policy you need? Reach out to one of our Licensed Advisors to get advice and find a policy that works for your home.