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Kristine Lee

Insurance Analyst

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty
  • 4+ years of Experience in the Insurance Industry

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer. Before joining The Zebra, she was a…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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What's covered by the different types of homeowners insurance?

Homeowners insurance protects you, your personal property and your home from covered losses. What counts as a covered loss depends on the type of homeowners policy you choose.

Below are the most popular home insurance policy options. The majority of insured homes in the US are covered by HO-3 policies. Learn more about named and open perils.

Home Insurance Type Property Covered Against Contents Covered Against
HO-2 - Broad Form Named perils Named perils
HO-3 - Special Form Open perils Named perils
HO-5 - Comprehensive Form Open perils Open perils

Home insurance covers both your property and your liability — an important distinction. Explore the standard coverages that come with a homeowners insurance policy, what it covers and additional coverage options for fortifying your policy below.

What does homeowner's insurance cover? — table of contents:
  1. Your property: what is and isn’t covered
  2. Your liability: what is and isn’t covered
  3. What perils or losses are covered?
  4. Homeowners insurance exclusions
  5. Additional coverage options and endorsements
  6. How much coverage do you need?


Homeowners insurance: property coverage

Home property coverage consists of four primary categories. Each of these home insurance categories carries different coverage limits:

Property Coverages Amount of Coverage
Coverage A - Dwelling Replacement cost of your home
Coverage B - Other Structures 10% of Coverage A
Coverage C - Personal Property 50-70% of Coverage A
Coverage D - Additional Living Expenses Actual Loss Sustained/Maximum Days or Amount

Coverage A: Dwelling Coverage

This coverage works to replace the structure of your home if it is destroyed as a result of a covered loss. The value of your home is not factored into this amount. Because the value of your land does not change the cost of building a dwelling, the market value of a home and the amount of coverage provided by Coverage A may differ. The cost of your dwelling coverage may depend on the age of your home, among other factors (brand new homes can be relatively affordable to insure).

Dwelling insurance coverage is subject to a deductible, i.e, what you pay before an insurance company steps in to handle the losses.

Coverage B: Other Structures

If Coverage A amounts to $250,000, the policy's other structures coverage would be $25,000 — 10% of Coverage A. Coverage B is subject to a deductible. This coverage applies to the following types of other structures:

  • Driveways
  • Sheds
  • Swimming pools
  • Gazebos
  • Fences
  • Sheds
  • Detached garages

This 10% is a general percentage used by insurance companies. Depending on the value of the other structures, you can increase this coverage level amount.

Coverage C: Personal Property

This coverage applies to the insured party's personal belongings. If a policy has a replacement cost of $250,000, the maximum personal property coverage would be $187,500 — 75% of $250,000. The policy could extend 50% personal property coverage, providing a max claims payout of $125,000. Each of these payouts would be subject to a deductible.

Personal property coverage extends to cover covered losses occurring away from the home, but usually at a decreased coverage level and not always for the same threats. For the exact limitation on your worldwide coverage personal property coverage, refer to your policy details.

Coverage C may come with sub-limits on certain items. Most insurance companies will cap the amount of coverage on valuable items, creating sub-limits. Below are some common sub-limits for personal property home insurance.

Sub-limit Property Limitations
$200 Money, Gold, Coins  
$1,500 Jewelry, watches, furs Theft-only
$1,500 Watercraft, trailers Theft-only
$2,500 Firearms  
$2,500 Silverware  
$2,500 Business property On-premises
$500 Business property Off-premises
Varies Electronics  

You can increase personal property sub-limits by adding an endorsement — a rider or floater — to your policy. An endorsement raises the sub-limit to a certain amount for a general collection of items. For example, a jewelry endorsement raises the level of coverage for all jewelry owned by the insured party.

If you have one particularly valuable item for which you want individual coverage, consider a scheduled endorsement. This requires an appraisal and that the item is explicitly listed on the policy. This is a common practice for engagement or wedding rings.

Coverage D: Additional Living Expenses

If your home were to be destroyed or unlivable because of a covered loss, your additional living expenses would provide coverage for you to live elsewhere — up to the limits listed in your policy. Usually, your policy will give you a set amount of money or duration they will compensate for. Unlike Coverages A, B, and C, additional living expenses — also known as loss of use — are usually not subject to a deductible.


What else is covered by home insurance?


Liability coverage in homeowners insurance

Homeowners insurance liability protection includes the following types of coverage:

Liability Coverages Amount of Coverage
Coverage E - Your Personal Liability Varies
Coverage F - Your Medical Payments to Others Varies
Coverage E: Personal Liability

Home insurance personal liability provides coverage for bodily injury or property damage suffered by others for which you are deemed legally responsible. If your child throws a ball through a neighbor’s window and breaks their TV, you could be held liable for the damage to the window and the TV. Your personal liability coverage would provide settlement to the not-at-fault party as well as provide you with legal services if you are sued.

There are no state requirements for personal liability insurance. Typically, liability coverage is a fairly inexpensive part of homeowners insurance. High personal liability limits are recommended — greater than Coverage A level is a good place to start. A common measurement for personal liability coverage is it should be equal to or greater than your net income. If your personal liability limits are exhausted, you could be sued and be forced to forfeit your assets.

Coverage F: Medical Payments to Others

If someone injures themselves on your property (and they do not live at the residence), med pay coverage can cover their medical care.

While it can vary, the following medical expenses are typically covered:

  • Medical bills and payments
  • Surgical costs
  • Cost of x-rays
  • Dental procedures
  • Ambulance and hospital fees
  • Nursing care
  • Prosthetic devices
  • Funeral services

This coverage is based on a limit you can set and is not subject to a deductible.



What is and isn't covered by home insurance?

It's important to remember that home insurance doesn't cover every source of damage. Learn more about whether or not a standard policy covers the following losses or perils:

Natural Disasters Other Perils
Flood damage Water damage
Windstorms Animal damage
Wildfires Roof leaks
Earthquakes Theft
Hurricanes Termites
Lightning strikes Fallen trees
  Asbestos removal
  Hail damage
  Fire damage

Continue reading to learn more about what's not covered by home insurance.


Homeowners policy exclusions

Many exclusions on a standard homeowners insurance policy can be added via endorsements. Below are major exclusions worth keeping in mind when buying a homeowners policy.

  • Freezing pipes and systems in vacant dwellings
  • Damage to foundations or pavements from ice, sleet and water weight
  • Theft from a dwelling under construction
  • Vandalism to vacant dwellings
  • Latent defects, corrosion, industrial smoke, pollution
  • Settling, wear and tear
  • Pets, other animals, and pests
  • Weather conditions that aggravate other excluded causes of loss
  • Government and association actions
  • Defective construction, design, and maintenance

There are perils that are never covered by a homeowners policy, regardless of whether the policy is a named peril or open peril policy.

  • Enforcement of building codes and similar laws
  • Earthquakes*
  • Flooding*
  • Power failures
  • Neglect (failure to take reasonable steps to protect your property)
  • War
  • Nuclear hazard
  • Intentional acts

* Coverage for these perils can be bought as a separate policy. See more information on this below.



Additional coverage options

Owning a home is a major investment — you should make sure it is properly protected. Below are some common additional coverage options.

Personal property endorsements

There are many caveats to covering personal property via homeowners insurance. If you have any valuable items from the list above, consider increasing your coverage level with an endorsement.

An endorsement for artwork, for example, will increase the coverage level for your entire art collection. If you have one particular piece that you’d like to cover at a higher amount, consider a scheduled homeowners insurance endorsement. This ensures your item is individually appraised and insured at its exact value.

Replacement cost coverage

For a small additional fee, you can usually upgrade your reimbursement on your personal property from Actual Cash Value (ACV) to Replacement Cost Coverage. With an ACV reimbursement policy, your claims check would factor into depreciation. With a replacement cost policy, you would get the value to replace your belongings at its current value.

Learn more about the differences between replacement cost coverage and actual cash value.

Earthquake coverage

Damage caused by earthquakes is excluded from every insurance policy. But depending on your location and company, you can add it back or add a complementary policy. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you should definitely consider this coverage. If your current provider does not provide it, you can use outside providers. In California, the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) is a major provider of homeowners earthquake coverage.

Flood insurance

Because of the risk and cost of claim payouts, most standard insurance providers will not provide flood insurance coverage. If you live in a flood plain, you should acquire flood insurance via the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private flood insurance policy. This will be separate from your homeowners insurance but can turn out to be equally important in the event of a flood.

Get a flood insurance quote from Neptune Flood Insurance.


Other endorsements and additional homeowners coverages

Explore how these additional coverage add-ons and endorsements work to protect your property.

Home Insurance Endorsements  
Mold Identity theft
Sewer backup Builders risk
Service line Airbnb hosts
Fallen tree damage Home daycare
Equipment breakdown Home business
Ordinance or law Scheduled personal property
Jewelry Musical instruments


How much home insurance do you need?

What is covered by home insurance varies based on what type of home insurance policy you have. HO-2 offers the least coverage. HO-3 is a middle point between HO-2 and HO-5.

Below are The Zebra's top recommendations to make sure your home is properly insured:

  • Consider HO-5 home insurance if your personal property values are high.
  • Any valuable items should have an endorsement or scheduled endorsement.
  • Take a home inventory of all of your belongings to understand how much personal property coverage you might need.
  • Make sure your personal liability insurance is high — greater than or equal to your net income.
  • Review your policy with an insurance agent. Homeowners insurance can be confusing. Make sure you understand what is and isn't covered.

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About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.