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Insurance

Does Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Firearms?

By March 17, 2022July 19th, 2024No Comments
Does Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Firearms? - Group of FireArms Lined Up

Your homeowners insurance policy offers crucial protection for incidents involving your firearms, covering both property and liability aspects. This also applies to renters and condo owners insurance. Here’s what you need to know:

Understanding Sublimits

One key restriction on your property coverage is called a “sublimit.” This clause sets a payout threshold, often lower than the value of your firearms. Typical sublimits range from $2,500 to $5,000, but these amounts vary by insurer, so check your policy details.

If you have a large or valuable gun collection, ask your insurance agent about increasing these limits. You can often add coverage to your regular policy or obtain an “endorsement” specifically for your firearms. This is especially important for collectors and antique firearms. Your agent might refer to it as a “personal articles floater” or an “inland marine” policy. These addendums detail protection for your firearms’ value.

Details and Storage

Your insurance company will require detailed information about your guns and accessories, such as scopes, magazines, and specialty parts. Note any special characteristics to make identification easier if they are stolen or lost.

Storage matters, too. While most gun owners keep their firearms at home, some use public storage facilities to protect children or save space. Coverage for possessions kept off your insured premises may be limited, so ensure your policy accurately reflects your storage situation. If you add a firearms rider to your policy, confirm it covers the same perils as your main homeowners insurance, typically including fire, theft, vandalism, windstorm, and water damage.

Your guns are usually covered while you travel or are in the field. However, if you exhibit your firearms (even at informal club shows), speak to your agent about coverage for these events, particularly regarding security and custody during transit and exhibition.

Possible Coverage Exclusions

Ask your agent about exclusions such as:

  • Loss due to earthquakes, flooding, or confiscation

  • Theft from an unlocked vehicle

  • Loss while on loan to someone

  • Loss while at a shop for repairs

  • Damage from use

  • Illegal firearms (e.g., operational automatic military guns)

Keeping an Inventory

Even if not required, create an inventory of your firearms, including make, model, submodel, gauge or caliber, serial number, and certificate of authenticity for collectors’ items or antiques. Store a copy in the cloud or a safe deposit box away from home in case of a disaster.

Valuing Your Collection

Although your insurer may not require receipts, it’s wise to have a professional third-party assessment of your firearms’ worth. This could be a purchase receipt or an expert appraisal, especially for antiques or collectors’ items. Pictures can help document the condition and any improvements made.

Consider provisions for automatic increases in value or at least an annual revaluation, as some firearms appreciate significantly over time. Some insurers offer an automatic monthly increase as an add-on feature, beneficial if your collection grows regularly.

Liability Limitations

Check your homeowners, renters, or condo owners policy for firearms liability coverage and any limitations. Confirm whether it covers all family members or just the named owner, and if there are location-based restrictions. If you hunt or engage in shooting sports, a specialty firearms liability policy may be more suitable.

Legal Liability and Settlements

You need comprehensive liability insurance for incidents like accidental discharges, misfires, or mistaken shootings. Ask your agent about:

  • Liability insurance for legal defense costs and settlements

  • The insurer’s claims process

  • How legal defense payments are made (some insurers reimburse after you pay)

  • Added liability coverage for property damage and injury caused by others using your firearms

  • Sublimits on liability and defense costs

A personal umbrella policy can extend your coverage, providing additional resources if your underlying insurance is insufficient. Review its wording for exclusions or sublimits regarding firearms liability.

Concealed Carry and Self-Defense

Some specialty insurance covers lawsuits resulting from the legal use of a firearm in self-defense, often on a reimbursement basis. This coverage varies by state and usually requires charges to be dropped or a not guilty verdict before reimbursement. Ask your insurance agent about coverage for:

  • Bail bonds

  • Criminal defense (if found innocent or charges are dropped)

  • Civil defense and damages

  • Personal hardship (e.g., cleanup fees, psychological help)

  • Income loss during court appearances

  • Expert witnesses

Determine if you can choose your attorney or must use the insurer’s, and if they offer emergency hotlines for immediate advice after an incident.

Conclusion

Understanding your homeowners insurance policy’s coverage and exclusions for firearms is essential. Consult with an experienced insurance professional to ensure your policy meets your needs and provides comprehensive protection for your firearms. V.F. McNeil Insurance, a Trusted Choice® independent insurance agency in Branford, Connecticut, can help you navigate these details (203) 481-2684.

 

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