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What is Homeowner's Insurance?

In the 18th century , most who suffered fire damage to their homes suffered an enormous and unrecoverable loss. In 1752, Benjamin Franklin and other citizens established the first American fire insurance company.

Until the 1950s, a homeowner would have to purchase separate policies covering fire losses, theft, personal property, liability, etc. But at that time comprehensive policies covering all those events started to be sold.

The following is from Wikipedia:

The need for standardization grew so great that a private company based in Jersey City, New Jersey, Insurance Services Office or ISO, was formed in 1971 to provide risk information and issued a simplified homeowners policy for resell to insurance companies. These policies have been amended over the years until currently, the ISO has seven standardized homeowners insurance forms in general and consistent use. Of these HO-3 is the most common policy followed by HO-4 and HO-6. Others that are less used, though still significant, are HO-1, HO-2, HO-5, and HO-8.

A limited policy that offers varying degrees of coverage but only for items specifically outlined in the policy. These might be used to cover a valuable object found in the home, such as a painting.
Similar to HO-1, HO-2 is a limited policy in that it covers specific portions of a house against damage. The coverage is usually a "named perils" policy, which lists the events that would be covered. As above, these factors must be spelled out in the policy.
This policy is the most common written for a homeowner and is designed to cover all aspects of the home, structure and it contents as well as any liability that may arise from daily use as well as any visitors who may encounter accident or injury on the premises. Covered aspects as well as limits of liability must be clearly spelled out in the policy to insure proper coverage. The coverage is usually called "all risk". Also called an "open perils" policy.
This is commonly referred to as renters insurance or renter's coverage. Similar to HO-6, this policy covers those aspects of the apartment and its contents not specifically covered in the blanket policy written for the complex. This policy can also cover liabilities arising from accidents and intentional injuries for guests as well as passers-by up to 150' of the domicile. Common coverage areas are events such as lightning, riot, aircraft, explosion, vandalism, smoke, theft, windstorm or hail, falling objects, volcanic eruption, snow, sleet, and weight of ice.
This policy, similar to HO-3, covers a home (not a condo or apartment), the homeowner and its possessions as well as any liability that might arise from visitors or passers-by. This coverage is differentiated in that it covers a wider breadth and depth of incidents and losses than an HO-3.
As a form of supplemental homeowner's insurance, HO-6, also known as a Condominium Coverage, is designed especially for the owners of condos. It includes coverage for the part of the building owned by the insured and for the property housed therein of the insured. Designed to span the gap between what the homeowner's association might cover in a blanket policy written for an entire neighborhood and those items of importance to the insured, typically the HO-6 covers liability for residents and guests of the insured in addition to personal property. The liability coverage, depending on the underwriter, premium paid, and other factors of the policy, can cover incidents up to 150' from the insured property, all valuables within the home from theft, fire or water damage or other forms of loss. It is important to read the Associations By-laws to determine the total amount of insurance needed on your dwelling.
It is usually called "older home" insurance. It lets house owners with higher replacement cost than the market value insure them at the lower market value rate.

A homeowner's policy covers loss not only to the dwelling, but other structures, personal property, and liability to other parties who come onto the property. At its simplest, a dwelling policy covers only the structure itself. Dwelling policies are used in to insure seasonal homes that are unoccupied for part of the year.

A Dwelling Fire policy is available for owners of rented houses, covering damage to the structure, and perhaps to the owner's personal property such as appliances and furnishings.

The most common homeowner's policy is the HO-3, which covers all aspects of the home, including the structure and its contents, and liability for events causing damage or or injury.

Condo Owners usually obtain an HO-6 policy which includes coverage for the part of the building owned by the insured (i.e. the interior), personal property, as well as liability coverage. It bridges the gap between what the HOA covers through the master policy for the complex. The HOA bylaws and the master policy determines ultimately responsibility for coverage.

Additional coverage options can be made through endorsements.

See Our Homeowner's Insurance Glossary

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