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What Is Replacement Cost Value in Homeowners Insurance?

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Updated: Oct 23, 2023
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Replacement cost value (RCV) in home insurance refers to the coverage that pays to replace or rebuild your damaged property with items of similar quality and functionality without regard for depreciation. Typically, dwelling coverage is repaid at RCV, while personal property coverage is paid at actual cash value (ACV), which accounts for depreciation. You may be able to get your personal property reimbursed in RCV by purchasing an endorsement, but this may result in a slight increase in your premiums.

Understanding the nuances of RCV, comparing it with actual cash value (ACV) and market value, comprehending methods to calculate your home's replacement cost and evaluating replacement cost endorsements can guide you towards a comprehensive insurance plan.

Key Takeaways

Replacement cost value (RCV) in home insurance provides coverage for replacing or rebuilding your property with similar quality materials without accounting for depreciation.

Extended and guaranteed replacement cost endorsements offer additional financial protection, albeit at a higher premium, to protect against inflation and unforeseen rebuilding costs.

RCV policies require insurance coverage worth 80% of the home's total replacement cost in order to be fully covered.

What Is Replacement Cost Value (RCV) In Home Insurance?

In homeowners insurance, replacement cost value (RCV) is a component in your dwelling and personal property coverage that pays to replace your property or belongings with items of similar quality and functionality without accounting for depreciation. Here’s a snapshot of how it applies to your policy:

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    Dwelling Coverage

    Under dwelling coverage, RCV helps cover the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home to its original state. In all home insurance policies, dwelling coverage is paid at replacement cost value by default. There is no actual cost value for dwelling coverage claims.

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    Other Structures

    If you insure other structures in your home insurance policy, like a garage or shed, RCV extends to cover these structures, ensuring they are restored without the financial burden of depreciation.

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    Personal Property Coverage

    If your belongings get damaged under a covered peril, RCV can also apply to your personal property coverage, paying for the cost to fully replace your furniture, electronics and clothing.

This means if a covered peril damages or destroys your possessions, replacement cost covers the total cost of getting new items, thus making your recovery smoother. This feature of higher payout makes RCV a preferred choice among homeowners, especially those with newer homes or valuable possessions. It's predominantly found in comprehensive insurance policies such as HO-3 and HO-5, known for providing extensive coverage against a wide range of perils.

Investing in a policy with RCV might mean higher premiums, but the peace of mind and financial security it offers, especially in the face of unforeseen calamities, often outweigh the cost.


Some providers impose an 80% rule in replacement cost value (RCV) policies, wherein to receive the full coverage, you must purchase replacement cost coverage worth at least 80% of your home's total replacement cost. For instance, if your home's replacement cost is $100,000, under the 80% rule, you'd need to have insurance coverage of at least $80,000 to get full coverage for any potential claim.

Replacement Cost Value (RCV) vs. Actual Cost Value (ACV)

Aside from RCV, the personal property coverage of your home insurance policies can also be paid out by actual cash value (ACV), which takes into account the depreciation of your property. In the event of a covered peril, your insurance payout will reflect the value your items have lost since their purchase. For instance, if you bought a top-of-the-line refrigerator for $2,000 five years ago, and it gets damaged in a covered incident. If the same refrigerator's current market value is $1,200 due to depreciation, an ACV policy will reimburse you this amount minus your deductible.

The table below shows a quick snapshot of the differences between RCV and ACV.

Actual Cash Value (ACV)
Replacement Cost Value (RCV)


Actual cash value (ACV) is calculated based on the present worth of your property or possessions, considering depreciation over time. In the event of a covered loss, your insurance payout will reflect the diminished value of your items since their original purchase.

Replacement cost value (RCV) assesses the expense of replacing your property or belongings with items of similar quality and functionality. RCV coverage grants you the amount it would cost to acquire new items, disregarding depreciation.

Claim Payout

The insurance payout is generally lower as it accounts for the depreciated value of your belongings.

The insurance payout is higher, covering the entire cost of replacing your items with new ones.

Policy Type

ACV is typically associated with basic policies, like HO-1.

RCV is frequently found in more comprehensive policies like HO-3 and HO-5.

Replacement Cost Value (RCV) vs. Market Value

While replacement cost and market value are often confused, RCV focuses on the cost to replace or rebuild your home with materials of similar quality, while market value is the amount a buyer would pay for your home, including the land, in its current state. It's influenced by various factors such as location, local housing market trends and the condition of your home.

Grasping the distinction between RCV and market value is essential to avoid under or overinsuring, allowing you to secure the right amount of coverage to financially protect your home without overspending on premiums.

Extended vs. Guaranteed Replacement Cost Endorsements

There are two replacement cost endorsements offered by insurers: extended and guaranteed. Throughout the year, inflation can impact the cost of materials and labor, potentially rendering your initial coverage limits insufficient. In such scenarios, having extended or guaranteed replacement cost coverage can be a financial lifesaver.

  • Guaranteed Replacement Cost: This endorsement assures the full cost of rebuilding your home is covered, without any cap, even if the expense exceeds your policy's limits. It provides the most comprehensive protection against inflation and other unforeseen cost increases. For instance, if your limits are only $100,000, but the cost to rebuild is $150,000, this endorsement ensures your home will be rebuilt at $150,000.
  • Extended Replacement Cost: This provision covers a specified percentage above your policy's dwelling coverage limit, usually 20% to 25%, to account for inflation or unexpected cost surges in rebuilding.

While providing an added layer of protection, these endorsements might slightly increase your policy's premium. However, considering the volatility of construction costs, investing in extended or guaranteed replacement cost endorsements could be a prudent decision for long-term financial security. This added protection could be invaluable in ensuring you have sufficient coverage to rebuild and recover in the aftermath of a significant loss.

Factors Influencing the Replacement Cost of Your Home

When determining dwelling coverage you need or the cost to replace your home, there are several factors to consider, such as the cost of building materials, labor rates and the size and location of your home. Here's a more detailed look at these factors:

  • Building Materials: The quality and cost of the building materials used will significantly impact the replacement cost. This includes the cost of flooring, roofing, windows and other materials required to rebuild your home to its original standard.
  • Labor Rates: Labor costs can vary widely depending on your location and the contractors you hire. Additionally, labor costs may surge if there's a sudden demand for contractors, for instance, after a natural disaster.
  • Size and Design of Home: The size of your home and the complexity of its design are crucial factors. A larger home or one with a complex design will cost more to replace.
  • Location: Your home's location can impact the replacement cost. For instance, homes in areas prone to severe weather may require additional structural enhancements or may have higher labor and material costs.
  • Inflation: Throughout the year, inflation can affect the cost of materials and labor, potentially increasing the replacement cost of your home.

Understanding these factors can help you determine the right amount of dwelling coverage you need, thus preventing over or under-insuring. It's essential to have a clear grasp of these elements to ensure you're adequately protected financially, should the unexpected occur.

How Do You Calculate Your Home’s Replacement Costs?

Calculating the replacement cost of your home may seem daunting, but numerous resources can assist you in this task. A great starting point could be obtaining an estimate from a local contractor or reviewing your property inspection report. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you determine your home’s replacement cost:


Determine Local Construction Costs

Discover the average per-square-foot construction cost in your area. This information can often be found online or through local contractors.


Calculate Basic Replacement Cost

Multiply your home's total square footage by the average local construction cost per square foot to get a basic replacement cost estimate.


Consider Upgraded Features

Account for upgraded features like high-end flooring, cabinets, fixtures, appliances, roofing and exterior features, as they can significantly impact the replacement cost.


Adjust for Local Factors

Adjust your calculations for local factors such as labor rates, material costs and any other regional variables that might affect the cost of rebuilding. You can ask a local contractor to help you find this number.


Consult a Professional

For a more precise estimate, consider consulting a professional appraiser or contractor who can provide a detailed assessment of your home’s replacement cost.

With this number, you can determine the amount of dwelling coverage you should aim for. This number will also influence other policy coverage options on your homeowners insurance. For instance, your other structures' coverage limit is 10% of your dwelling coverage amount, and your personal property limit is 50% to 75% of your dwelling coverage amount. However, if you need more limits for these other coverages, ask your provider for a well-rounded protection plan.

FAQ About Replacement Cost Value in Home Insurance

Understanding how replacement cost value (RCV) plays a role in your home insurance policy is essential to ensure you get what you need. Look through MoneyGeek’s commonly asked questions to better understand RCV and home insurance.

About Mark Fitzpatrick

Mark Fitzpatrick headshot

Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content director at MoneyGeek with over five years of experience analyzing the insurance market, conducting original research and creating content that can be personalized for every buyer. He has been quoted on insurance topics in several publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Mark earned a master’s degree in Economics and International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his economics and insurance knowledge to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.