What is HO-4 Insurance?

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HO-4 insurance, commonly referred to simply as renter’s insurance, is an insurance policy that covers tenants from loss of personal property. It does not cover the actual house or apartment that is being rented; that property is covered by the landlord’s insurance policy. It is a comparatively inexpensive policy that provides beneficial coverage and security in times of crisis. Once the value of personal property, such as televisions, jewelry, computers and antiques, begin to be accounted for, a person realizes the amount is normally higher than they first believed.

Disasters Covered

HO-4 insurance covers renters from loss of personal effects from 17 different disasters. Floods and earthquakes are generally not covered under this policy. The following is a list of a few of the disasters that are covered under HO-4 insurance:

  • Fire & smoke damage
  • Wind, hail & lightening
  • Explosions
  • Falling objects
  • Riots & civil commotions
  • Damage by vehicles & aircrafts
  • Theft
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Weight of ice, snow & sleet
  • Water damage from utilities
  • Electrical surges
  • Vandalism & malicious mischief

Unlivable Conditions

If your rental home becomes uninhabitable due to any reason covered by your HO-4 policy, your renter’s insurance will normally cover your additional living expenses. Usually, this means that they will pay for you to live somewhere else until your home returns to livable conditions.


Most renter’s insurance policies offer liability protection. This coverage protects you if someone in your home slips and falls and requires medical attention. You would be covered for any related costs, up to your liability limit. Also, if you are sued by this person, you are covered for the court judgment they win and related legal expenses up to your policy’s limit.

Actual Cash Value or Replacement Cost

You should be aware of whether the insurance company offers actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cost coverage for your property. ACV coverage will pay for only what the property was worth at the time that it was damaged or stolen. Replacement cost coverage will pay the amount it costs to replace the items in the current market, minus the deductible of course. Replacement cost coverage will cost more in premiums, but since it will also pay more if you ever have to file a claim, it can be worth the extra monthly expense.

Filing a Claim

Filing a claim under a HO-4 insurance policy is not particularly difficult. However, the task can become simplified if a few documents are in hand. First, copies of receipts for personal items that are kept in the home are very helpful. Also, an inventory of all these items in the home, along with the date and cost of purchase, can be invaluable when trying to file a claim. Another helpful idea is to take a videotape of the home and each personal item of value. This electronic tally can be an asset to the insurance adjuster assigned to your case. These records should be kept in a secure, fire-proof safe or in a safe deposit box at a bank. Thinking ahead and having these items will make the claim a smoother process and will allow you to reclaim your money as quickly as possible.


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