Are my Damages Covered? An Introduction to the Massachusetts Homeowner Three (HO-3)  Insurance Policy

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If you have ever purchased a house, you may have been required to obtain a homeowners insurance policy to protect that house. While this post cannot go into detail as to what exactly may be contained in your exact insurance policy, this informational post will broadly introduce you to the typical Massachusetts homeowner insurance policy to help give you a better understanding of your homeowner insurance.

Most homeowners obtain a homeowner insurance policy when they first purchase their home. A homeowner insurance policy is generally a requirement of most lenders to make sure that the homeowner is protected in the event that a fire or other catastrophe causes damage to the home. In many cases, the homeowner obtains a homeowner insurance policy through an agent or insurance broker who may assist them in completing the insurance application.

In applying for home insurance, the homeowner need to be aware that you are ultimately responsible for the information that is put on the insurance application. If the information is incorrect or inaccurate, it may have an effect on any claim that may be submitted at a later date. If you learn that there was an error in the application for insurance coverage, you should take immediate steps to correct that information and obtain verification of the correction.

Once you receive your insurance policy, you become what is know as the “insured”. You, as the insured, should take care to make sure that you have a physical copy of the policy along with any of its attachments in the event that you need to file an insurance claim.

The standard Massachusetts homeowner insurance policy generally breaks down its coverage into four major categories. The primary categories applicable to the homeowner insurance coverage is:


  1. Coverage A- Building Dwelling
  2. Coverage B- Other Structures
  3. Coverage C- Personal Property
  4. Coverage D- Loss of Use and Additional Living Expenses


The declaration page of the policy generally sets forth the limit of the insurance company’s coverage for each of the above referenced categories. In order for you, the homeowner, to determine what your insurance coverage is, the first place you should look is on the declaration page of the insurance policy.

The declaration page of your insurance policy provides a wealth of information. Among the information that is generally contained on the declaration page of the policy is:


  1. The name of the insured,
  2. The location of the property that is being insured,
  3. The policy term (or the length of time of the policy which is generally expressed as the start date and end date for which insurance coverage is being provided),
  4. The insurance policy number,
  5. The name of any insurance agent,
  6. The name of any lien holder, mortgage company, or bank which would have rights under the insurance policy,
  7. A listing of any insurance forms or endorsements, which may amend or modify the insurance coverage, which is being provided by the basic homeowner insurance policy.


This list is not an exhaustive or all inclusive list, however, most declaration pages generally have some of this information referenced on the declaration page.

In addition, coverage under the standard homeowner insurance policy is generally broken down to two separate sections.

The first section concerns first-party coverage. First-party coverage provides insurance coverage for the homeowner, the home, and its contents. The second section typically provides liability coverage to protect the homeowner from claims of other people.

While the above reference sections make up the majority of your policy, your policy also contains other important sections, including a section which provides definitions that relate to how certain words are to be interpreted under the policy and a section which outlines the duties and obligations of the insured in the event of an insurance claim.

As a homeowner, you should at least familiarize yourself with these sections to better prepare yourself in the event that you suffer damage to your home and you need to file a homeowner insurance claim.

While we have been generally and broadly referencing some items which may be contained in a homeowners insurance policy, your homeowner insurance policy may be broken down further into one of several types of homeowner policies which fall under what is typically referred to as “the homeowner series”. The homeowners series of insurance policies are insurance policies for those homes in which the homeowner resides or occupies. The most common type of homeowner policy is the homeowner three policy, which is usually identified with the initials HO-3.

Generally, the standard homeowner insurance three policy provides coverage for any sudden and fortuitous event or peril that causes a physical loss to the building, unless the event is otherwise excluded or limited. Common day sudden fortuitous events would include damage that is a result of the fire, smoke, wind storm, hail, and other similar weather-related events. This type of homeowner policy is sometimes called an all-risk policy unless otherwise excluded or limited.

If you suffer a loss, generally most Massachusetts homeowner insurance policies provide for replacement costs coverage. In general terms, replacement cost coverage means that the insurance company will generally provide payment for the replacement cost of the covered damage provided that you have paid the appropriate premium for the coverage.

Most often, the policy provides that the insurance company will settle your covered claim and provide you with the actual cash value of your damage until such time that you have proven to the insurance company that the repairs have been accomplished. At that point, they will generally pay the difference between the replacement cost coverage and the actual cash value coverage.

While the above sections generally discuss the terms surrounding an insurance company making payment pursuant to your policy, please note that not all losses that you suffer are covered under the homeowner insurance policy. The standard homeowner insurance policy contains exclusions and limitations as to what your insurance company will provide coverage for.

The list of exclusions and limitations can be confusing and complicated. Please consult with an attorney who is familiar and experienced with homeowner insurance policies and claims to advise you on your legal rights and offer you alternatives to protect those rights.


DISCLAIMER: This and other segments posted on this website are offered for informational and discussion purposes only and is not offered as legal advice. This office only represents homeowners and property owners. We do not represent insurance companies. The information contained in this segment should not be considered to be legal advice.