Certain items you own come with inherent risk. A pool for instance. If you have a pool, you are responsible for the safety of your guests, as well as keeping unexpected users (the neighbor kid) safe by preventing entry. Similarly, owning firearms comes with risk. Now we’re not getting into the politics of guns here. The purpose of this blog is to discuss how your homeowners insurance will respond to both property and liability claims.
Let’s lay some groundwork.
The Small Arms Survey, an independent research project, estimated in 2018 that there are approximately 393 million guns in civilian hands in the United States. And according to a study by the Pew Research Center conducted in 2017, approximately 42% of households in the United States reported owning firearms. Both of these numbers are probably low. There are likely millions of unreported firearms owned. It’s also estimated that US citizens comprise 46% of the world’s private firearms owners.
All this is to say, this is an important topic because of the sheer volume of guns owned by American Citizens.
Property losses refer to damage or loss of your firearms due to incidents such as theft or fire. Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for property losses related to guns. However, the coverage may be limited.
For instance, in Pennsylvania a standard home insurance policy will cap theft coverage for firearms at $2500. That $2500 figure is the total for all firearms stolen and accessories (cases, optics, magazines, ammunition, etc..), not just for any one item.
Better Ways to Insure Your Guns
There are 2 ways to increase the coverage on your firearms.
First, you can increase your coverage for guns from $2500. This is recommended for standard items that are easily valued and replaced. Assuming you have a replacement cost endorsement on your policy (which you should!), then your stolen guns will be replaced with like kind and quality.
The second option is to schedule your firearms individually. That means you’d provide a list of all the guns you want covered with descriptions and values. This is recommended for items that are harder to value or replace. If you get agreed value, then you and the underwriter are agreeing on the value up front to avoid issues if there’s a claim. This way, your heirloom rifle won’t be replaced by modern cheap knock-off.
As always, it’s important to review your policy to understand the specific terms and conditions.
First, let’s define a liability claim. Liability claims arise when a third party is injured or their property is damaged because of your negligent act or omission.
So would a homeowners policy respond to a gun-related liability claim? Yes. Well, yes, but..
There’s one key issue with firearms liability. It must be accidental for your homeowners insurance to apply. Intentional acts are always excluded from coverage. For comparison, think about your car insurance. If you were to accidentally hit a pedestrian, your auto insurance would defend you and pay your claim. However, if you intentionally mowed down your ex in a crosswalk, then coverage would be excluded. Homeowner’s insurance liability works the same way. For coverage to apply, the claim must be accidental.
The problem here is, if you use your weapon as a tool to defend your family, then your insurance won’t respond. To put it plainly, if you shoot someone on purpose, your insurance won’t apply. Full stop. What about an intruder? I refer you to the sentence above.
Bridging the Liability Coverage Gap
So how do you cover claims for self-defense use of a firearm? There are companies that sell policies specifically for this purpose such as USCCA and US Law Shield. There are several other programs as well. I’m not advocating for these or any others. But if you want defense coverage for legal use of your firearm, don’t look to your homeowners policy.
In conclusion, a homeowners policy can provide coverage for both liability and property losses related to firearms. However, it’s important to review your policy and discuss any concerns with your insurance agent to ensure you have adequate coverage. Additionally, there are steps you can take to prevent gun-related accidents and incidents. Remember, part of being a good gun owner is being a responsible gun owner.
If you want to talk to a home insurance specialist, please call us today, or you can complete this form to get a quote on home insurance in Pennsylvania today!