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What Is an HO-8 Insurance Policy? Modified Coverage Explained

An HO-8 policy is a form of homeowners insurance for older and historic buildings. If your home's rebuild value exceeds its current market value, then standard homeowners insurance can be too costly or difficult to qualify. This is where HO-8 insurance comes in, providing coverage specifically for these older and riskier types of domiciles.

An HO-8 policy is a form of homeowners insurance for older and historic buildings.

Unfortunately, HO-8 insurance doesn't extend the same level of coverage as standard homeowners insurance. Understanding where you're protected and vulnerable is essential when choosing an insurance policy for your older home.

Table of Contents:

What Is HO-8 Insurance Coverage?

Also called modified coverage form 8, an HO-8 policy is a type of home insurance for historic buildings and owner-occupied older homes that were constructed decades ago. HO-8 insurance provides several types of coverage, including dwelling, personal liability, additional living expenses and more. However, coverage is quite limited compared to standard homeowners insurance, as you are protected against only 10 out of 16 named perils.

With an HO-8 policy, you are protected against 10 out of 16 common perils.

Since older homes are more likely to use hard-to-find building materials and complicated building techniques (e.g., hand-carved crown moldings), insurance carriers will typically pay for repairs and damages at functional replacement cost. For example, damaged hardwood floors would likely be replaced with still functional but cheaper plywood.

HO-8 insurance is one among eight types of insurance policies. Check below if an HO-8 or another policy is right for you.

Policy 

Description

HO-1

Named-peril policy with most limited coverage (protects against 10 out of 16 perils, no liability, no personal property).

HO-2

Named-peril policy with slightly more coverage than an HO-1 policy (16 named perils plus personal property and personal liability coverage).

HO-3

Standard homeowners insurance with an open-peril policy that offers more coverage than an HO-2 policy. 

HO-4

Insurance policy for renters.

HO-5

Highest level of homeowners insurance with most coverage. Includes open-peril policy and replacement cost coverage for personal property. 

HO-6

Insurance policy for condo owners.

HO-7

Insurance policy for mobile homeowners.

HO-8

Insurance policy for older properties. Doesn't cover as many perils as standard home insurance policy (HO-3). Typically, 10 perils are covered.

What Does an HO-8 Policy Cover?

The scope of coverage for an HO-8 policy is limited compared to standard homeowners insurance. Since you're protected against only select perils, you're vulnerable to multiple other types of risks.

Perils

HO-8 insurance coverage operates on a named-peril basis — you're covered for ONLY the specific perils named in your policy. You can find more details about your coverage on the declaration page.

Out of the 16 most common perils, you are protected against only 10. While you have coverage for several external perils, you're at risk for falling objects and damages related to your home systems and appliances, such as freezing, accidental tears and power surges.

Perils Covered

Perils NOT Covered

Fire or lightning

Falling objects (e.g., tree branch)

Windstorm or hail

Weight of ice, sleet, snow

Explosion

Sudden/accidental discharge or overflow of water/steam from appliances, heating or air conditioning systems

Riot or civil commotion

Sudden/accidental tears, bulges, cracks and burns of  HVAC or hot water systems or water heating appliances

Damage by aircraft

Freezing of plumbing, heating, air conditioning and fire sprinkler systems

Damage by vehicles

Sudden/accidental damage from power surges

Smoke


Vandalism or malicious mischief


Theft


Volcanic eruption


Dwelling and other structures

With dwelling coverage, the structure of your home is protected against the ten named perils listed in your policy. Unlike standard homeowners insurance coverage, your insurance provider may pay for repairs and replacements at functional replacement cost. Replacement costs for less modern building materials and designs, such stained glass and hand-carved moldings, can be costly. Repairs at functional replacement cost typically involve using cheaper or common construction materials and methods.

Liability coverage

Your personal liability coverage will pay for legal costs if you're financially responsible for the property damages or injuries of somebody else who is on your property.

Personal property 

HO-8 insurance will cover your personal belongings for damages or loss due to one of the named perils listed in your policy. Typically, your insurer will replace them at actual cash value (the value of the item, minus depreciation).

Typically, your insurer will replace belongings at actual cash value (the value of the item, minus depreciation).

Additional living expenses 

Also called loss of use coverage, HO-8 insurance will pay for your daily living costs if you need to stay elsewhere because your home is uninhabitable. For example, you may receive compensation to stay in a hotel if your home is being repaired after a fire.

Find Affordable Insurance for Older Homes

What does an HO-8 policy not cover?

As mentioned, HO-8 policies don't have coverage for all 16 common perils. To recap, insurance companies don't provide coverage for freezing of falling objects; weight of ice, sleet and snow; discharge or overflow from appliances and home systems; tearing and bulging of home systems; freezing household systems; and damages from power surges.

Like many standard home insurance policies, the following events would not be considered a covered loss on HO-8 policies either:

  • Earthquakes

  • Flood

  • Government acts

  • Hurricane

  • Infestation of animals and pests

  • Mold

  • War

  • Wear and tear

  • Pet damages

With so many holes in your coverage, you may want to further protect your home and belongings. While older homes are riskier, some insurance providers may sell you a separate policy to cover earthquakes, flood damage or another type of risk. You can also see if your issuing insurance carrier would allow you to add coverage via an insurance rider (this will raise your premium).

HO-8 Policy vs HO-3 Policy


HO-8

HO-3 (Standard)

Coverage Level

Limited

Basic

Dwelling

Named peril

Open peril

Personal Property

Named peril

Named peril

Payout

ACV or RCV

ACV or RCV

Best For

Older or historic homes that can make it difficult to qualify for standard homeowners insurance.

Standard homeowners insurance that provides most common coverage needs.

HO-8 Policy FAQs

What perils does an HO-8 policy cover?

Insurance companies typically extend coverage for 10 out of 16 named perils on HO-8 policies. An HO-8 policy covers aircraft, fire and lightning, explosion, riots and civil commotion, smoke, theft, vandalism and malicious mischief, vehicles, volcanic eruptions, windstorm and hail.

What is the difference between HO-3 and HO-8 policies?

An HO-8 policy is homeowners insurance for older or historic homes, while an HO-3 policy is considered standard homeowners insurance. HO-8 insurance is much more limited in coverage and doesn't rise to the same levels of protection as HO-3 insurance.

Why are older homes more expensive to insure?

Older homes are often considered higher risk because they may have outdated electric and plumbing systems that could fail and be difficult to repair or place. Also, repairing original designs on crown moldings and carvings, stained glass or some other feature can be quite costly.

Do HO-8 policies pay at replacement cost?

Typically no. HO-8 policies typically pay for personal property claims at actual cash value and dwelling-related claims at functional replacement cost value, as the cost to replace fixtures and upgrade household systems for older homes is often expensive.

Does an HO-8 policy cover fire?

Yes, an HO-8 policy pays for fire damage to your dwelling and other structures.

How much does an HO-8 policy cost?

An HO-8 insurance policy costs, on average $1,003 annually according to a 2018 report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Insuring Your Older Home with an HO-8 Policy

Older homes have unique features and history but often need more TLC. However, the high-risk nature of your home can result in lower coverage and higher premiums. Finding the best homeowners insurance policy that meets your coverage needs and budget is essential. SmartFinancial can help. With our tools, you can compare rates and coverage from 200+ insurance carriers at the click of the button. Just enter your zip code below to grab your free quotes.

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