What is the best coverage for your older or hard-to-replace home?
Why you can trust The Zebra
If your home is older or made from hard-to-find materials, you may want to consider an HO-8 homeowners policy. This coverage is most often used if your home was built 40 years ago or longer, is a historic landmark, or is otherwise architecturally important. As a general rule, if it costs more to repair your damaged home than the home’s current market value, an HO-8 policy will likely be your best — and most affordable — option.
If the home was originally constructed using materials no longer commonly used — like plaster walls — replacing and repairing these elements to the home's original standard would be prohibitively expensive. An HO-8 insurance policy is designed to cover these specific circumstances.
Standard homeowners policies include HO-2, HO-3, and HO-5 policies. The HO-8 form is a modified version that provides coverage for homeowners unable to attain an HO-3 policy for their older home — typically more than 40 years old.
Under an HO-8 policy, the insured's dwelling, personal property, liability, and loss of use are covered. However, it should be noted this insurance policy will not go as far in covering your home and personal belongings as an HO-3 or HO-5 policy. An HO-8 will at least provide certain key coverages against the most common perils (causes of loss).
Property Covered Against
Contents Covered Against
HO 8 - Modified Form
Named Peril: HO-8 is known as a named-peril policy in that it only covers what is explicitly listed. HO-8 coverage is much like the HO-1 policy in this regard. It provides coverage against basic perils:
Actual cash value: This term takes depreciation into account, meaning that any payout for damages will not be enough to cover full replacement costs. This is how your insurance company is able to keep insurance on such a home affordable.
Replacement cost: This term covers losses at the full value of their worth. Because of the nature of most older homes, this isn’t a viable coverage option and is not included in HO-8 policies.
Common construction: Basically, your insurance will cover your losses with modern — or common — building materials and practices. For instance, they may replace up to the same square footage damaged in your home, but possibly not with original, more expensive materials.
An HO-8 policy covers your home as well as other structures (detached garage and fencing) up to the actual cash value.
This coverage is similar to auto liability insurance. Homeowners liability insurance can protect you in the event that you are at fault for someone's bodily injury or damages to their property.
This includes your personal possessions such as furniture, electronics, and clothing. It's important to note that there are sub-limits for valuable belongings like as musical equipment or jewelry. Because of the item's high value, an insurance provider will likely limit the amount of coverage available. Below are common sub-limits.
For personal belongings exceeding state monetary sub-limits, consider adding an endorsement to your policy. An endorsement increases coverage levels for that category. For instance, adding a jewelry endorsement would raise the coverage level for all the jewelry you own. If, on the other hand, you have an individual piece of jewelry that is very valuable, such as a wedding or engagement ring, you might want to consider a scheduled endorsement.
Scheduled endorsements are specific to one item only. An appraisal is needed beforehand to ensure you have appropriate coverage.
This coverage is also known as loss of use. It covers additional living expenses should you be required to live elsewhere in the event that your home is made unliveable due to a covered loss.
As HO-8 policies only provide basic coverage, there are many potentially damaging perils that are not covered.
These may include:
The following are other common exclusions to HO-8 policies.
Note: some of the above perils can be insured by certain additional policies.
If your home is historic or would otherwise be exceedingly costly to replace, the modified HO-8 insurance policy could be a great option for you. Unique features—such as craftsman-created carvings, plaster moldings, or antique doors—can give your home tremendous amounts of character, but they are hard to insure. Most insurance companies simply won’t pay to replace these features to the previous standard, as these repairs would be far too costly.
It pays to look around when shopping for insurance, especially if your home is older. If you are a homeowner searching for an HO-8 policy quote, call (888) 444-2833.
The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.