What Is an HO-4 Form?
The HO-4 form is one of six different forms used for homeowners policies. Form HO-4 applies only to tenants who rent their dwellings. It does not cover the dwelling and other structures because tenants do not own their dwellings or other structures on the premises. Although liability coverage offered through Form HO-4 (Coverages E and F) is similar to the liability coverage that appears in the other five forms, it's the property insurance coverage (specifically Coverage C) that makes HO-4 different. The form number of your particular policy will usually be shown on the bottom right corner of every page. Use this resource as a learning tool, but always read your policy carefully to familiarize yourself with the details of your coverage.
Dwelling and Other Structures
Form HO-4 is sometimes called contents insurance because, as a rule, it insures just your personal property. There is one exception, however: Form HO-4 covers you for damage to building improvements or additions made at your expense. That way, if you install built-in cabinets or carpeting, you are covered for damage to the cabinets or carpet even though they're not your personal property. For damage to an improvement to be covered, the damage must be caused by a named peril (see the following list).
Caution: Form HO-4 covers improvements and additions only up to 10 percent of your personal property coverage amount. If you wish to insure an improvement or addition for more than that 10 percent figure, you may purchase an endorsement to increase the limit for building additions and alterations.
The HO-4 form provides coverage for 17 named perils:
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorm or hail
- Riot or civil disturbance
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Broken glass
- Volcanic eruption
- Falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
- Accidental discharge or overflow of water
- Sudden and accidental tearing apart
- Artificially generated electrical damage
Like the other forms that cover you on a named perils basis (HO-2, HO-6, and the personal property subsection of HO-3), an HO-4 policy compensates you only for losses caused by any of these 17 named perils.
If your homeowners policy is written on Form HO-4, your possessions are not covered by property insurance for damage or destruction caused by:
- Enforcement of building codes and similar laws
- Power failures
- Neglect (meaning your failure to take reasonable steps to protect your property)
- Nuclear hazard
- Intentional acts
The impact of these exclusions on your coverage can be easily seen:
Coverage under Form HO-4
Column A You're Covered for Damage Caused By
Column B You're Not Covered for Damage Caused By
Fire or lightning Windstorm or hail Explosion Riot or civil disturbance Aircraft Vehicles Smoke Vandalism or malicious mischief Theft Broken glass Volcanic eruption
Enforcement of building codes and similar laws Earthquakes Flooding Power failures Neglect War Nuclear hazard Intentional acts Any peril or cause not included in Column A
One of the Conditions in Section I of Form HO-4 describes the amount you will receive for any loss covered by property insurance. Form HO-4 does not cover you for losses to the dwelling or other structures, but you are entitled to receive the actual cash value of any damaged personal property as long as it's no greater than the repair or replacement cost of the personal property.
Tip: Loss settlement is always subject to the coverage limits described on the Declarations Page of your policy. This means you are never entitled to receive more than the coverage limit, even in cases where the actual cash value is a greater amount, unless you have increased your coverage limit by endorsement.
Caution: To qualify for payment from your insurance company, you must meet the conditions that are spelled out in your homeowners policy. Some conditions dictate your responsibilities before a loss occurs, and some dictate the actions you must take after the loss to remain eligible for coverage. Read your policy carefully to familiarize yourself with your responsibilities under the policy.
This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.
The Retirement Group is not affiliated with nor endorsed by fidelity.com, netbenefits.fidelity.com, hewitt.com, resources.hewitt.com, access.att.com, ING Retirement, AT&T, Qwest, Chevron, Hughes, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, Glaxosmithkline, Merck, Pfizer, Verizon, Bank of America, Alcatel-Lucent or by your employer. We are an independent financial advisory group that specializes in transition planning and lump sum distribution. Please call our office at 800-900-5867 if you have additional questions or need help in the retirement planning process.
The Retirement Group is a Registered Investment Advisor not affiliated with FSC Securities and may be reached at www.theretirementgroup.com.