An HO-5 policy, also known as a comprehensive form policy, is a superior type of homeowners insurance, offering more protection for both your home and personal property than any residential policy on the market.
What sets an HO-5 policy apart from standard homeowners insurance is the level of protection for personal belongings like furniture, clothes, and appliances. In an HO-5 policy, your personal property is covered on an “all-risks” basis. Also known as open perils, this means you’re covered against everything except the perils exempt from the policy, such as earthquakes, flooding, and intentional acts. When you file an HO-5 claim involving your belongings, you don’t need to prove if the loss is covered or not — the burden of proof is on your insurance company.
What is HO-5 insurance?
An HO-5 policy is the most comprehensive form of homeowners insurance on the residential market, providing open perils coverage and replacement cost claim settlements for your home and personal property.
The biggest difference between the HO-5 and the other policy forms is the scope and quality of personal property coverage.
Here’s a look at the different coverages in an HO-5 policy:
What does this coverage do?
Section I - Property Coverages
Covers the structure of your home and built-in appliances
Covers detached structures on your property
Covers your personal belongings both inside and outside the home
Pays for additional living expenses while your home is being repaired
Explains all the additional coverages in a standard policy—like debris removal, loss assessment and ordinance or law—and the insured limits of each
Section II - Liability Coverages
Pays for legal and medical bills if you're held liable for injury or personal property damage to someone else
If a guest is injured in your home, it pays for their medical bills, regardless of who is at fault
HO-3 vs. HO-5: What’s the difference?
An HO-3 policy is the most common form of homeowners insurance. Here is how an HO-5 policy differs from it.
Personal property coverage
Dwelling claim reimbursements
Personal property claim reimbursements
Actual cash value
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with an HO-3 or HO-5 — both are light-years ahead of the basic form policies (dwelling fire, HO-1, and HO-2) in terms of coverage quality and availability. But if it’s between the two and you happen to own a lot of stuff, an HO-5 policy is your best bet for providing maximum protection for your personal belongings.
What does an HO-5 policy cover?
An HO-5 covers the structure of your home, any other structures on the property, and your personal belongings against everything except the specific perils listed in the policy.
Here are some common perils covered by an HO-5 policy:
Fire or lightning
Windstorm or hail
Riot or civil commotion
Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
Accidental discharge or overflow of water or stream
Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of a built-in appliance like a water heater or centralized air conditioner or heating system
Sudden and accidental damage from an artificially generated electrical current
What does an HO-5 policy not cover?
Although an HO-5 policy offers more protection than standard homeowners insurance, there are still a number of exclusions to be aware of. Here’s a look at what your HO-5 policy will not cover:
Ordinance or law
Water damage from flooding, sewer backups, or water that seeps up from the ground
Theft to a dwelling under construction
Vandalism or malicious mischief (if vacant more than 60 days)
Mold, fungus, or wet rot (except if it resulted from an accidental discharge or overflow of water)
Wear and tear
Smog, rust or other corrosion
Smoke from agricultural smudging and industrial operations
Discharge, dispersal, seepage of pollutants
Settling, shrinking, bulging, or expanding of parts of the structure like your foundation or walls
Birds, vermin, rodents, insects
Damage caused by animals owned by insured
How much does an HO-5 homeowners insurance policy cost?
The average annual premium for an HO-5 policy in the U.S. in 2019 was $1,186 per year or $99 a month, according to the NAIC.  And estates with an insurable value of $500,000 or more paid an average of $2,824 per year or $235 per month for an HO-5 policy.