You’re the proud owner of a new home and once the celebrations are done with, you’re probably thinking of the technicalities that accompany such an event. If so, a home insurance policy is definitely on the list of top 5 priorities that you need to attend to! However, just as variety is the spice of life, it would seem that it is the spice of insurance as well! Out of HO-2, HO-3, HO-5, HO-6, and HO-8, which one is the right one for you? Which one do you really need?
Fear not. Before your swimming head gets the better of you, we’ll help you make sense of the most commonly purchased home insurance policy: HO-3! This policy is the minimum coverage that you, as a homeowner, require and, in all probability, the only one you’ll ever need.
As we said, the HO-3 home insurance policy is the most commonly purchased home insurance policy because the policy encompasses all the coverage that most homeowners need. Also known as the “Special Form Homeowner’s Policy”, it provides excellent coverage for your house as well as your personal property. The HO-3 policy is a hybrid policy, which means that it is a combination of two different policies: the “open perils” policy and the “named perils” policy, and yes, we are going to explain these two terms to you!
An “open perils” policy provides full coverage for your home and personal property whatever the cause or danger may be, unless your policy specifically names and excludes it. Therefore, the policy doesn’t list what perils it’s got you covered for; it does the opposite and lists the perils that you aren’t covered for. So if a particular peril isn’t on the list, it’s definitely covered. A “named perils” policy, on the other hand, only provides coverage for reasons that policy specifies.
In the case of a HO-3 policy, your house or dwelling is provided an “open perils” coverage while your personal property (contents of the house) is covered on a “named perils” basis.
So now that we’ve understood the basic concept behind an HO-3 policy, let’s take a look at the excluded and included perils for your house and personal property, respectively.
The following perils are excluded when it comes to coverage for your house or dwelling:
It should be noted that coverage for earthquakes, water damage (unless sudden or accidental damage in which case it is already included in your policy), and collapse can be added to your policy (also known as “endorsement”).
The following causes or perils are provided coverage for, with regard to your personal property, in an HO-3 policy:
The HO-3 policy is best suited for owner-occupied homes and 1-to-4 dwelling units (such as apartment complexes).
Though the HO-3 is the most commonly purchased policy, it falls short on two counts: water damage and an “open perils” coverage only on personal property. The policy doesn’t cover water damage relating to slow leaks, foundation or water backup, and requires an endorsement on the policy. There are similar policies such as the HO-5 and HOB policies that provide better coverage. Also, the HO-3 is more expensive than the HO-2 policy; however, this makes sense as the HO-3 provides more coverage than the HO-2 policy, which is a “named perils” policy though it provides coverage for your house and personal property, like the HO-3 policy.
However, once you look past the additional endorsement, the HO-3 is as good as any other policy to cover all your basic insurance needs. Just ensure that you know what those basic needs are and plan well for your coverage!