Is an HO-4 Policy Right for You?

Renters insurance comes with numerous benefits, but is it worth the cost?

Kevin Payne
Written byKevin Payne
Kevin Payne
Kevin Payne
  • 5+ years writing insurance, travel, and personal finance content

  • Founder of FamilyMoney Adventure blog

Kevin is a seasoned writer who leverages his love of budgeting and all things personal finance to create informative, thoroughly researched insurance and money content.

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Chris Schafer
Edited byChris Schafer
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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Updated December 19, 2023

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If you’re a renter, your landlord is responsible for insuring the building, whether it’s an apartment, condominium, house, or other dwelling. Your landlord’s insurance coverage doesn’t extend to your possessions, though. If you want protection for yourself and your belongings, you’ll need an HO-4 insurance policy.

An HO-4 policy is also known as renters insurance or tenant insurance. It’s an insurance policy specifically for renters. HO-4 policies protect your personal belongings from theft, fire, and other covered perils.

Having an HO-4 policy isn’t a legal requirement, but some landlords require you to carry one.

Why are HO-4 policies important?

Renting is traditionally viewed as a precursor to owning a home, but a 2023 survey of renters by Avail, a company, found that only 30% were looking to purchase a home in the next 12 months.[1] This is down from 34.6% in July 2022. One of the primary reasons for the delay among renters is concerns about inflation and rising interest rates.

If you prefer to rent, having proper renters insurance coverage is essential.

Important Information

An HO-4 policy provides a wide-ranging protective net over your personal belongings in the event of covered hazards and incidents. Without it, you and your possessions could be left unprotected when disaster strikes. If there’s damage to the home or apartment, making it uninhabitable for a period, renters insurance can cover accommodations, meals, and other eligible expenses during that time.

Key benefits of an HO-4 policy

Having renters insurance not only protects you during covered events, but it can also provide peace of mind. Here are some of the key benefits of an HO-4 policy:

  • Protection for your belongings: An HO-4 policy covers the cost to repair or replace your possessions if they’re damaged, destroyed, or stolen.

  • Liability protection: Your policy protects you financially if someone is injured in your rental home or if you accidentally damage someone else’s property. This coverage can include protection for medical expenses and legal costs.

  • Loss of use: An HO-4 policy reimburses you for additional living expenses if you have to live somewhere else temporarily due to a covered peril.[2]

  • Peace of mind: Experiencing a disaster or other covered event is stressful enough without adding financial consequences. Knowing you’re covered through renters insurance can relieve some of that added stress.

  • Affordability: Renters insurance is typically very affordable, providing valuable coverage at a reasonable cost.

Components of an HO-4 policy

Most HO-4 policies include three types of insurance coverage:

  • illustration card

    Personal property coverage

    Renters insurance covers the cost of repair or replacement of personal belongings that a covered peril damages or destroys. Your belongings are also protected against theft. Often, you can choose between replacement cost or actual cash value coverage when you insure your personal items.

  • illustration card

    Personal liability coverage

    An HO-4 policy covers medical bills and legal fees related to bodily injury and property damage that occur within the rental property.

  • illustration card

    Loss of use coverage

    This coverage extends to additional living expenses, including hotel stays and meals, paid if your rental home is made unlivable due to a covered peril.

Some insurers may offer additional protection through extra add-on coverages.

What is covered under an HO-4 policy?

HO-4 insurance policies generally include coverage against the following perils:

What isn’t covered under an HO-4 policy?

As a renter, you’re protected for numerous common and not-so-common events and hazards.[3] Unfortunately, some perils typically aren’t covered under a standard HO-4 policy, including:

  • Floods

  • Earthquakes

  • Landslides

  • Mudslides

  • Sinkholes

  • Expensive belongings that exceed your coverage limits

  • Structural damage to the rental property

Policy exceptions can vary between insurers. Contact your insurance agent to determine what is and isn’t included in your HO-4 policy.

How do you apply for an HO-4 policy?

If you’re interested in an HO-4 policy, start by getting quotes from several insurance companies that offer renters insurance. Compare rates and coverages to find the best fit for your needs.

Once you’ve found the coverage you want, apply for the policy. You can typically apply for insurance coverage online through the insurer’s website, but some offer in-person or phone assistance.

The insurance company may ask you to provide personal and property information when getting a quote or applying. This information could include:

  • Your full name

  • Date of birth

  • Rental property address

  • Number of people living in the rental property

  • Safety features and other property details

Follow the insurer’s instructions to apply for a renters insurance policy.

The average cost of an HO-4 policy

The average cost of an HO-4 policy is $173 annually, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.[4] That’s roughly $14.42 per month.

Factors affecting the cost of an HO-4 policy

Where you live plays a role in how much you pay for renters insurance. For example, the average cost of an HO-4 policy in Georgia is $212 annually, while an HO-4 policy in Iowa is $136 on average.[4]

Other factors that affect HO-4 policy costs include:

  • The value of the belongings and assets you want to protect

  • Coverage types and limits

  • Deductibles

  • Claims history

Keep in Mind

The insurer you choose factors into the cost of your insurance policy. Renters insurance is usually cheaper than homeowners insurance, but it’s still a good idea to shop around to be sure you find the best rates.

How does an HO-4 differ from other policy options?

Other homeowners insurance policy types relate specifically to owners, not renters. If you don’t own the property where you reside, most other home insurance policy options don’t apply to you.

Another major difference between an HO-4 policy and other insurance policies is that renters insurance doesn’t include coverage for the rental property itself. This is the landlord’s responsibility.

An HO-6 policy, or condo insurance, also covers a single condo unit but is specifically for people who own the condo, not renters. Because condo insurance offers more protection, it typically costs more than renters insurance. If you rent a condo or other property, renters insurance is the best option.

HO-4 policy FAQs

If you’re looking for renters insurance, this additional information may help as you research your options.

  • What’s the difference between HO-4 and HO-6?

    An HO-6 policy, also known as condo insurance, provides more comprehensive coverage than rental insurance. It extends to the internal structure of an individual condo unit, including the walls, floors, and ceilings. It doesn’t include coverage of exterior walls or common areas.

  • What distinguishes an HO-4 policy from other types of homeowners insurance?

    An HO-4 policy applies specifically to people who are renting an apartment, home, condo, or other rental property. Coverage doesn’t include the structure itself — only the renter’s personal belongings, personal liability for the renter, and loss of use reimbursement for living expenses if the property is unlivable during repairs.

  • What does an HO-4 policy typically cover?

    An HO-4 insurance policy protects your possessions in the event of covered perils. It also provides personal liability and loss of use coverage.

  • Does an HO-4 policy cover personal liability?

    An HO-4 policy covers renters from personal liability for bodily injury or property damage that occurs within the rental property or that they cause through negligence. Rental insurance also helps pay third-party medical expenses and the policyholder’s legal fees stemming from any incidents covered by the policy.

  • How do you file a claim under your HO-4 policy?

    You can file a renters insurance claim through your insurer. Depending on the insurance company, you can file a claim by phone, online, or through your insurer’s mobile app. Follow the instructions given by your insurance company to file a claim, upload the necessary documentation, and track the status of your claim.


  1. Avail. "Avail Q1 Rental Report: Landlords Aim to Keep Rentals Occupied While Renters Grapple With Financial Challenges."
  2. Insurance Information Institute. "Renters Insurance."
  3. Insurance Information Institute. "Which disasters are covered by homeowners insurance?."
  4. NAIC. "Dwelling Fire, Homeowners Owner-Occupied, and Homeowners Tenant and Condominium/ Cooperative Unit Owner’s Insurance Report: Data for 2020."
Kevin Payne
Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is a freelance writer and family travel and budget enthusiast behind His work has been featured in Forbes Advisor,, Bankrate, SlickDeals, Finance Buzz, The Ascent, Student Loan Planner, and more. Kevin lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and four teenagers.

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris SchaferSenior Editor
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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