By TE Cunningham
About 43% of US households have a gun or guns in the home, according to a recent Gallup poll.
As large as that number is, you might be surprised at how few gun owners have completely explored gun safety and the insurance and liability factors of gun ownership. Guns are not only expensive; they can be dangerous when not handled and cared for properly. Because of both the risk and the value of the item, insurance research and coverage is vital.
Firearms owners may have a gun to protect their family, but insurance plays an equally important role in that process.
First, start by purchasing a gun safe. Not only does this help ensure gun safety, especially in households with children, but it also helps protect the gun. Guns can be damaged by fire, water, wind and such the way most tools can. A safe can often survive the worst of catastrophic circumstances, even a tornado or a fire. Quick tip – you can also think about storing important documents such as wills and power of attorneys in a gun safe.
A safe becomes an excellent deterrent for would-be thieves during a break-in. So investing in a quality gun safe just makes sense.
As you secure your firearm and gun safe, you should likewise be obtaining the best possible insurance coverage to your family as well, whether you are a homeowner or a renter.
Just like jewelry, cash, coins and other small items that can be carried easily, guns tend to be magnets for thieves during home robberies. As such, many insurance companies limit coverage of these types of possessions. The limits will vary by company and category. For instance, cash theft may be limited to $250, and jewelry may be limited to $500. And so it goes with firearms. A standard range of coverage would be in the $2,000-$3,000 range on the loss of guns, whether from theft, fire, tornado, etc. This will probably work for the homeowner who has a single firearm, but if the individual has multiple guns in a collection, he/she needs to investigate coverage with an agent further.
Agent Travis Katzer states, “Owning firearms is a huge responsibility! You need to insure them for value and liability. Make sure to check your policy limit for firearms, as most carriers put a limit on firearms for theft only. If you have a lot of firearms, it’s probably a good idea to schedule them all individually on your policy,” he explains. “Your carrier will need to know the make, model, serial number & value of each. Make sure to talk to your agent about all the coverage options available to you.”
- Make a list of all firearms including make, model and serial number; remember to take photos or video of the guns as well.
- Have all firearms appraised regularly; these items tend to appreciate, so it is an important part of protecting your investment
- Don’t forget “add-ons” to your pieces
- Comparison shop on rates
So that’s covering your investment, but what about your liability?
Guns and Liability Insurance
Why do you need gun liability coverage? Think about these scenarios:
- How many times have we seen it on our favorite TV crime dramas? Someone breaks into your house, steals your gun and then commits a crime with it. You can be sued for negligence by the victims’ family for not securing your firearm
- Same scenario as above, but it’s a member of your family. They can sue you too.
- A family member may take the gun and give it to a friend, who then commits suicide with it; the family of the deceased can sue you for negligence.
- Perhaps a family member accidentally shoots their friend, after finding an unsecured gun in your home. Again, you can be sued.
Proper safety procedures and go a long way in preventing the above, but even the most careful of gun owners can find themselves in the above situation. Your homeowner’s insurance will have some amount of liability coverage for lawsuits, but the above situations would make additional coverage prudent.
In summary, to be as safe as possible, make sure you are prepared and well-informed on the above material.