Gun ownership is a topic that is often controversial. Regardless your opinion on the subject, it is beyond dispute that many millions of households include guns and other firearms. The existence of so many guns creates special considerations with regard to insurance coverage.
Most personal property coverage is provided under homeowners, condominium and tenants insurance policies. Such coverage is quite standard. Property policies typically offers only minimal coverage for certain types of property that is particularly vulnerable to loss by theft and guns are among those with limited protection. It is likely that, without purchasing extra coverage, a policy may only provide a few hundred dollars' worth of protection. If a household includes more than a single firearm, it's quite likely that the available coverage is insufficient.
Often the insurer that provides property coverage can offer more protection by either endorsing (modifying) coverage to increase the available limit or by writing separate coverage that offers a higher amount of coverage as well as offer protection against more sources of loss. Guns and firearms often represent an investment of thousands of dollars. Guns are also among the type of property (such as jewelry, furs, photographic equipment and fine art) that are targeted by thieves. It makes sense to purchase additional coverage to adequately protect against losses that are likely to occur.
Guns create a huge issue on the liability side. Most laws deem them as having fatal instrumentality, meaning that, by nature, the use of guns can result in serious bodily harm and death. Losses involving guns are problematic because of this classification. For instance: Jim is sued after his five-year-old son picked up a baseball bat and hit a visiting neighbor's child. The bat was just lying around in the playroom in Jim's home. This is not likely to be a problem as an insurance company would probably view this as an accident and would handle any lawsuit. But change the item from a baseball bat to a gun and Jim is sued after his son picked up a gun from a table and fired, severely injuring a neighbor's child. In the latter example, the incident would be scrutinized far more closely and a denial of coverage could occur if, for instance, the insurer investigates and discovers that the policyholder/gun owner was negligent by not having the gun in a secure spot or by having it in the open, but loaded. The high hazard represented by firearms severely restricts available insurance protection. Even claims that involve incidents of self-defense, a situation that is usually covered under homeowner policies, would still be subject to detailed examination.
In order to increase the chances of getting appropriate property as well as liability coverage for losses involving guns, it is helpful if the owner practices and documents safe handling and storage of firearms. It may also be prudent to demonstrate the ability to proper handle firearms by taking a certified safety or training course.
Source: ©The Rough Notes Company, Inc.