Is an HO-8 Policy Right for Your Home?

An HO-8 policy may make sense if you own an older home, but this type of policy has drawbacks you need to consider.

Anna Baluch
Written byAnna Baluch
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Anna BaluchInsurance Writer
  • 4+ years writing insurance and personal finance content

  • MBA from Roosevelt University

Anna leverages her personal finance and insurance knowledge to create educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions.

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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 July 3, 2024

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If you live in an older or historic home, its market value may be lower than the cost to repair or rebuild it. That’s where HO-8 home insurance comes in. With an HO-8 policy, you can receive the unique coverage you need that isn’t available through a standard home insurance policy.[1] Also known as a modified coverage form, this type of home insurance policy is specifically designed for homes that are more than 40 years old.

Here’s a closer look at HO-8 insurance policies and how they work.

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When an HO-8 policy makes sense

You should consider an HO-8 policy if you live in an older home that was built more than 40 years ago. You may also consider such a policy if you live in an historical home, one that’s an historical landmark, or a home with outdated systems or rare materials, such as the roofing or electrical wiring. An HO-8 policy may also make sense if you can’t qualify for standard policies, such as an HO-3 or HO-5.[2]

Here’s a quick glance at the most notable benefits and drawbacks of HO-8 home insurance.

Pros
  • Specifically designed for older and historical value homes

  • Doesn’t require a four-point inspection

Cons
  • More expensive than standard home insurance

  • Pays out actual cash value rather than replacement cost value

Understanding the basics of an HO-8 policy

Just like standard home insurance, HO-8 insurance covers the following:

  • Dwelling: Dwelling coverage pays to rebuild your home if it gets damaged or destroyed.

  • Other structures: Other structures coverage protects detached structures on your property, such as sheds and fences.

  • Personal liability: Personal liability coverage covers property damage and bodily injury others may suffer on your property.

  • Personal property: Personal property coverage is designed to protect your belongings and contents.

  • Loss of use: Also known as additional living expenses (ALE), this coverage pays for accommodations and related costs if you’re unable to remain in your home during repairs.

  • Medical payments: Medical payments coverage covers medical bills after an injury on your property, no matter who’s at fault.

You should also know your HO-8 policy will only kick in and cover your expenses in the event your home sustains damage as a result of specific natural disasters and these 10 named perils:

  • Aircraft

  • Fire

  • Windstorms and hailstorms

  • Smoke

  • Vehicle damage

  • Explosion

  • Volcanic eruption

  • Vandalism and malicious theft

  • Riots or civil unrest

How an HO-8 policy compares to other home insurance policies

Compared to other types of homeowners insurance, such as HO-3 and HO-5 policies, HO-8 insurance offers less coverage. It covers only claims related to 10 named perils, whereas other policies have open-perils coverage that applies to all perils minus listed exclusions.

Also, this type of policy pays out claims based on actual cash value instead of replacement cost value, unlike HO-3 and HO-5 insurance. Actual cash value considers depreciation, meaning it may not provide enough compensation to rebuild your property as it originally was.

In addition, HO-8 policies don’t require a four-point inspection and aren’t as common as other types of home insurance.[3]

How much HO-8 coverage you need

Your unique home, budget, and risk tolerance will dictate the right policy and the ideal amount of HO-8 insurance coverage for you. Most insurers use a tool to determine the cost to rebuild your older or historic home, and if this figure exceeds the market value, you may only be able to purchase modified replacement coverage.

This means your insurance company will pay to repair or replace your losses to modern standards as well as using less expensive building materials and construction techniques.

Since an HO-8 policy only covers 10 named perils, you may want to invest in supplemental coverage to protect against floods and earthquakes, for example. Also, if you have a mortgage on your home, your mortgage lender may have specific coverage criteria you need to meet, so it’s a good idea to reach out to them and find out.

An independent insurance agent can help you find the right coverage and best option for your unique situation.

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How to apply for an HO-8 policy

You’ll have to shop around to find home insurance companies that offer HO-8 policies, as they’re not as common as other types of coverage. Once you decide on an insurer and policy, you may be able to apply online directly through the company or an insurance agent. In most cases, you’ll have to share details about your home, such as the year it was built, the square footage, and its features.

Note that unless your property is rare or historic, you may not get approved for an HO-8 policy, and you may be better off with standard home insurance coverage.

How to maximize your HO-8 policy

If you need an HO-8 policy, it’s a good idea to explore discounts that may lower your home insurance costs. Fortunately, many homeowners insurance companies offer lower rates to people who add certain safety upgrades to their home, bundle their home insurance with auto insurance, or sign up for auto pay.

Don’t forget to review your coverage at least once a year and update it as your circumstances and needs change. Otherwise, you may be stuck with higher out-of-pocket costs you didn’t expect.

How to file a claim with an HO-8 policy

The claims process for an HO-8 policy depends on your home insurance company, as every insurer has its own guidelines. But you’ll typically be able to file a claim online or through the insurer’s mobile app. You may also call the insurance company and go through the process on the phone.

Be sure to take photos and videos of the damage and file a police report if you suspect any criminal activity. Keep in mind that the sooner you file your claim, the more likely it’ll get approved and allow you to start the process of repairing or rebuilding your home.

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HO-8 policy FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about HO-8 home insurance policies for older homes and those of historical interest.

  • What exactly is an HO-8 policy, and how does it work?

    HO-8 insurance covers older and historic homes with rare features. It has a named-perils policy and pays out based on actual cash value, which considers depreciation. HO-8 insurance is also typically less comprehensive than a standard homeowners policy.

  • Who should consider getting an HO-8 policy and why?

    If you live in a home that’s more than 40 years old or is considered historic, HO-8 insurance may be worthwhile to protect your property and personal belongings. An HO-8 policy can also come in handy if your home was built with outdated or rare features.

  • In what scenarios can you make a claim under your HO-8 policy?

    You may file a claim under an HO-8 policy if your home sustains damage from one of the 10 named perils. These include aircraft, fires, wind and hail, smoke, vehicle damage, explosions, volcanic eruptions, vandalism and theft, and riots or civil unrest.

  • What significant differences exist between an HO-8 policy and other home insurance policies?

    While an HO-8 policy only covers 10 named perils, other types of home insurance, such as an HO-5 policy, pay for all perils except for some exclusions listed in the policy. Also, an HO-8 policy pays out claims based on actual cash value instead of replacement cost.

  • How can you efficiently file a claim on your HO-8 insurance policy in case of a loss?

    To file a claim under an HO-8 policy, contact your home insurance company or insurance agent right away. Provide documentation in the form of photos and videos that pertain to the covered loss, as well as any information they require. Be sure to answer their questions promptly and accurately to avoid delays.

Sources

  1. Insurance Information Institute. "Are there different types of policies?."
  2. Hippo. "What type of insurance is HO-8?."
  3. Allstate. "What are the different types of home insurance policy forms?."
Anna Baluch
Anna BaluchInsurance Writer

Anna Baluch is a Cleveland-based personal finance and insurance expert. With an MBA from Roosevelt University, she enjoys writing educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions. Her work can be seen across the internet on many publications, including Freedom Debt Relief, Credit Karma, RateGenius, and the Balance. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.

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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