Homeowners insurance is something we don’t want to think about, even though we know we need it to protect our house, our belongings, and ultimately, our family. In Florida, where hurricanes and lightning strikes are a constant threat, it’s essential to have the right amount of coverage so that when we need to make a claim, our coverage will meet our needs. Make sure you know the value of your home and everything it contains, including furniture, electronics, artwork, equipment, tools, and appliances. Moreover, reevaluate on a regular basis to ensure that the insurance you have is neither too much nor too little.
Homeowners policy basic form HO1
“Basic” is a fair description of this policy. This covers specific “named perils” (a peril is the hazard or event that causes damage or loss). If you have a mortgage, chances are that your lender will want or require you to have a higher degree of protection. Also, this generally covers only the dwelling (house) and does not provide coverage for personal belongings, living expenses, or, perhaps more importantly, liability. This generally covers damage to your home caused by the following named perils:
- Windstorms and hail
- Riots/civil commotion
- Damages from vehicles or aircraft
- Volcanic eruption
Homeowners policy broad form HO2
In addition to covering all the named perils in basic form HO1, this policy also includes the following named perils and covers damage from:
- Falling objects
- The weight of snow, ice or sleet
- Frozen systems, such as HVAC
- Accidental and sudden tearing, cracking, burning, or bulging of pipes or other household systems
- Accidental and sudden discharge of artificially generated electrical current (for instance, a power surge not caused by lightning)
- Accidental overflow/discharge of steam or water
An HO2 policy typically covers your personal belongings and may also cover liability. If you’re not certain, read your policy thoroughly and don’t be afraid to ask your agent for a thorough explanation.
Homeowners policy special form HO3
This is perhaps the most popular policy for owner-occupied single-family homes, duplexes, and townhouses because it covers all the named perils in HO1 and HO2, as well damage to structures not attached to your home (such as a garage, shed, or swimming pool). Unless a peril is specifically excluded, dwelling damage is covered and also typically extends to:
- Personal liability protection
- Reasonable Additional Living Expenses (ALEs) for lodging, restaurant meals, and storage fees while your home is uninhabitable
- Theft of items whether in or away from your home (if, for instance, your laptop was stolen in a coffee shop. However, a stolen car would be covered under your auto, not your homeowners, insurance)
Check to make sure whether your policy covers losses at a Replacement Cost Value (RVC) or an Actual Cost Value (AVC). An RVC will only cover the cost of the item less depreciation, or will figure out the cost of the item lost at today’s market rate. Under AVC, your 12-year-old refrigerator would be replaced with a new one at its current worth. Jewelry, antiques, musical instruments and fine artwork, however, will have a limit placed on their reimbursement unless you purchase a rider to cover their value.
Homeowners policy tenant form HO4
If you rent an apartment or house, the owner’s or landlord’s policy covers the structure, but not your personal belongings and furnishings. That’s where an HO4, commonly known as tenant’s insurance, comes in. In addition to covering your clothing, electronics and furniture, it also typically covers the cost of anything you may have added, such as new cabinetry or appliances. If your rented dwelling becomes uninhabitable because of covered perils, your HO4 policy covers additional living expenses, including lodging, meal and storage facility expenses. Tenant’s insurance does not, however, offer liability protection.
Homeowners policy comprehensive form HO5
This is a premium policy that offers broader protection and higher coverage than HO3, but also at a greater cost. Its most important feature is that damage to personal property (not just your dwelling and other structures on the property) are considered as “open perils” and are covered by this policy, unless specifically excluded, with expanded limits on jewelry and other valuables. Moreover, damages are covered at an Actual Cost Value. If you have expensive items that you want covered and can afford the protection, you may want to consider the HO5 comprehensive policy.
Homeowners policy condominium form H06
There are more than 1.5 million condominium units in the Sunshine State, and if you own one, it’s essential that you have and understand HO6 policies. Many condominium associations (HOAs) require it. Whether yours does or not, this is what it generally covers:
- Dwelling damage, including anything attached to the dwelling, that is not covered by the association’s policy
- Personal property, including theft of items stolen on or off your property
Loss assessment, meaning damage to common areas that are partly your responsibility as a condominium owner. Typically, your policy should include at least $2,000 in loss assessment coverage
- Personal liability is usually covered, but check to make sure when you’re getting a quote
- Additional living expenses are also typically included, so that if your condo is uninhabitable for a period of time you may be covered for lodging, restaurant bills and storage during that time. Again, check to make sure
Homeowners policy mobile home form HO7
This policy generally covers the same “open perils” that are found in an HO3 policy but is designed for single- and double-wide mobile homes; manufactured, modular and sectional homes; RVs and trailers, including loss of use and liability. It also covers loss of personal property, such as clothing and furniture, but only if they are specified in your policy. Excluded perils (those perils not covered) generally include damage from wear and tear, damage caused by pets, vandalism to vacant dwellings, and intentional acts or neglects, among others. Like most other homeowner’s policies, flood damage is not covered and needs to be purchased separately.
Homeowners modified form HO8
This policy allows you to insure against catastrophic losses and is also often used for older homes where a better policy is not available because of the condition of the property. It typically covers the ten perils named in an HO1 policy but is more often the choice for houses that are older, are registered landmarks, or are historically or architecturally significant; especially those constructed with or containing hard-to-replace materials.
Our Florida insurance dispute attorneys are here to address your concerns
Homeowners insurance is necessary, but it can be confusing. To learn more about how our insurance dispute lawyers can help you with your questions or issues, please contact us online or call Johnson & Williams, P.A. at (407) 245-1268 to schedule a consultation.