Firearms and Coverage on the Home Insurance Policy

iStock_000024011506XSmallIf you own a firearm or are contemplating purchasing one, you might be curious to know what kind of coverage is available under the standard home insurance policy. When considering the coverage, you’ll definitely want to think about it from both the personal property and liability perspectives. The former will dictate what kind of insurance is available if your firearms are stolen or destroyed whereas the latter will potentially cover you if someone is injured. Owning a firearm is a big responsibility and it’s important to make sure that you have the proper insurance in place.

On the standard home insurance policy, any firearms you own will be covered as personal property. However, like many items that are often small, valuable, and easily transportable, firearms are subject to a sublimit. Sublimits are usually a limit on the policy for a specific type of item that is lower than the overall property insurance limit. In many cases, the firearms sublimit is $2,500 and it’s only for loss by theft. This is important to recognize because most personal property not subject to a sublimit isn’t restricted to coverage only when stolen. Instead, the property can be covered either for theft or just general loss or destruction.

If you need more coverage than is normally available on the home insurance, you’ll have to look for more specialized coverage. The two most likely options are to ask for a rider to your existing home insurance policy or buy a separate, stand-alone policy. A rider is a policy that covers small, valuable items and is often issued by the same insurance company as the one providing your home insurance policy. Riders are pretty common for items such as jewelry and antiques. In the case of firearms, you’ll need to ask your insurance company if they offer riders. If a rider is available, you’ll find that the terms are likely to be more generous than the standard home insurance policy. For example, you might be able to secure coverage for loss due to more causes than just theft.

If a rider is not available, there are still insurance companies out there that offer specialized, stand-alone policies just to cover your firearms. Because these policies are tailored specifically to the needs of firearms owners, they can often offer very specific coverage. If you do purchase such a policy, you’ll definitely want to ask for a copy of the policy form to read before signing on the dotted line. Often these policies can be found through gun groups or organizations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA). Instead of marketing a product on a widespread basis to only a segment of the population, these companies will focus on their likely audience through affinity groups.

Once you have insured your firearms for loss or theft, you will want to consider the liability implications of owning a firearm. Whether or not you can be held liable for damage or injury caused by owning or using a gun is not always a black-or-white decision. However, to the extent that you can or may be found liable should be enough reason to make sure that you have sufficient liability insurance. Instead of solely relying on the basic home insurance policy’s $100,000 personal liability limit, you should consider purchasing a personal umbrella policy that will provide additional liability protection. If you think it’s a rare instance, you should do a Google search online for the word “homeowner” in the “news” section. Without any other search terms, the search results return multiple stories of homeowners shooting intruders in their own home. These cases can be quite messy to sort out, which is why having sufficient liability insurance is a must.

Owning a firearm is a major responsibility and requires significant insurance to go along with the responsibility.

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