Americans buy insurance for a lot of things: homes, cars, their health care—even their lives. But what about firearms? Homeowner’s insurance can provide coverage but . . . it’s complicated. Our own S.E. Rakowski breaks it down for you:
As a firearm owner, there are special considerations that must be made when purchasing homeowner’s insurance. When determining the total coverage amount needed to protect your home and possessions, you should consider the value of your firearms separately. Additionally, attention must be paid as to whether or not your policy provides adequate coverage should someone be injured or killed by a gun.
Many insurers limit the amount of loss you can claim should your weapons be damaged or stolen. For example, a standard limit of $1,500 – $2,500 may be imposed per personal property claim. To determine your limits of coverage, read through the fine print of your policy. If your home is burglarized, would that amount cover the cost to replace your firearms? If you own multiple guns, customized firearms, shooting accessories, rare or antique weapons, the likely answer is “no”. To obtain additional coverage, your insurance company may offer a rider, also known as a scheduled personal property endorsement. A rider offers additional coverage for specific items of value, such as jewelry, antiques or firearms. The company will likely require a list of firearms and their appraised value to secure this coverage.
Owning firearms brings the added responsibility of making sure you are adequately covered in the event of a tragic accident. While I trust you take all necessary precautions to prevent an unintentional shooting, being a responsible gun owner means you must acknowledge accidents do happen. Most insurance policies cover injury or death due to accidental firearms discharge the same as any other accident. However, the standard liability limit for many policies is $100,000. Should the worst happen, the cost of medical bills and potential payouts for pain, suffering and attorney’s fees can easily top that. Many major insurances companies cap the amount of liability coverage available on a standard policy and some also have exclusions to firearm coverage. Check with your insurer to determine the scope of these limits.
Beyond the coverage offered through a traditional homeowner’s policy, you can purchase supplemental insurance especially for guns. Policies for firearms are available for upwards of $1,000,000. These policies cover repair or replacement of firearms and accessories as well as liability coverage for unintentional shootings at home, the range or while hunting. Supplemental coverage can also cover unexpected claims. For instance, if one of your guns is stolen and used to commit a crime, expanded liability protection would come in handy should a negligence lawsuit be filed against you for allegedly failing to properly secure your firearm.
A note of importance: homeowner’s policies exclude intentional shootings from coverage, even in cases of home or self-defense. For example, if you shoot an intruder and the criminal or their family then sues you, it is NOT covered. These policies cost more than standard insurance, but most cover bail bonding, legal defense, medical and counseling bills, and attorney referral. The peace of mind a personal liability insurance policy offers often outweighs the monetary cost. For a comparison of plans offered by several major personal liability carriers, check out this article by Luke McCoy.