What is Homeowners Insurance?

Massachusetts homeowners invest a great deal in the houses they own. Many have paid tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars (and sometimes more) for their residences, which doesn’t even take into account any improvements they’ve personally made. Without homeowners insurance, homeowners could lose everything they’ve poured into their house in a single catastrophe.

Homeowners insurance is a form of personal property insurance that’s specifically designed to meet homeowners’ insurance needs. Policies generally help homeowners protect their houses, their belongings, themselves and their families.

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What Coverages Do Home Insurance Policies Provide?

Because homeowners have many different insurance needs, the coverages included in home insurance policies can vary quite a bit. In general, most policies offer the following three main coverages:

  • Dwelling Coverage, which usually helps protect a house itself
  • Personal Property Coverage, which usually helps protect belongings kept inside a house
  • Personal Liability Coverage, which usually helps protect the policyholder and their family from certain kinds of liability lawsuits

Along with these three main coverages, there are many other coverages that a homeowners policy might also provide. Some of these other coverages include:

  • Secondary Structures Coverage, which homeowners might want to protect fences, detached garages and other secondary structures
  • Drain and Sewer Backup Coverage, which homeowners might want as a safeguard against damage caused by plumbing problems
  • Loss of Use Coverage, which homeowners might want in case they need to find alternative lodging after an incident
  • Vacant Property Coverage, which homeowners might need if they’ll be away from a house for an extended period of time

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Do Home Insurance Policies Cover Earthquakes and Floods?

Most home insurance policies don’t include coverage for earthquakes or floods. Homeowners who want either of these coverages usually have to purchase a peril-specific policy.

Earthquake policies are normally purchased from the private marketplace. Flood insurance policies usually can be purchased from the private marketplace as well, but homeowners in high-risk areas often also have access to flood policies through the National Flood Insurance Program.

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What Are the Different Types of Home Insurance Policies That Are Available?

Most homeowners policies are identified within the industry by “HO-” followed by a number. Most of the homeowners policies offered by insurance companies in Massachusetts have one of the following abbreviations:

  • HO-1, which is a “basic” policy that normally provides protection against 10 named perils
  • HO-2, which is a “broad form” policy that normally provides protection against a larger list of named perils
  • HO-3, which is a “special form” policy that’s normally written as an open-perils policy and usually provides more coverage than HO-2 policies
  • HO-5, which is a “comprehensive form” policy that’s normally written as an open-perils policy and usually provides more coverage than HO-3 policies
  • HO-8, which is an “older home” policy that’s similar to an HO-3 but adapted for an older house

(HO-4, HO-6 and HO-7 policies are respectively for renters, condo owners and mobile home owners.)

Some insurers also offer an HOB policy. These policies are typically similar to HO-3 policies but adapted for waterfront situations. They frequently provide more protection against water-related risks that coastal properties face.

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How Can Massachusetts Homeowners Get Quotes for Homeowners Insurance?

For help finding the right type of homeowners insurance, Massachusetts homeowners should talk with an independent insurance agent in the state. An independent agent is able to recommend one of the above types of homeowners policies based on a homeowner’s situation and desired coverages. Once a type of policy is selected, an independent agent can get quotes from various insurers in Massachusetts for that type of policy.

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