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Guns in the home: How insurance works

Your insurer may not ask if you have firearms in your house, but it's a good idea to bring it up yourself.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 4, 2013 5:20PM

This post comes from Mark Chalon Smith at partner site logoWhile gun control legislation may remain a divisive issue with uncertain outcomes, there are guidelines pertaining to firearms when it comes to homeowners insurance.


Revolver in open dresser drawer (© David McGlynn/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images)Most standard homeowners policies cover rifles and pistols if they're stolen or damaged in a fire, but usually up to a maximum of $2,500, according to Pete Moraga, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California. If you have a large collection of guns or ones that are particularly valuable -- perhaps a group of antique side arms -- then you may have to buy a policy rider to ensure they'll be replaced or that you'll be reimbursed, he says.


It's much the same process as with other big-money items, such as jewelry and fine art, where you discuss the pieces with an agent and come to a reasonable coverage figure.


Safety always an issue for gun insurance

To keep premiums for the standard policy from soaring, the owner may have to show that the rifles and pistols are properly secured in locked gun cases, have trigger locks, and, of course, are out of the reach of children, says Michael Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute.


"It's all about proving to an insurer just how responsible you are when it comes to firearms. It's clear that insurers are more likely to look favorably on the gun owner if they take special precautions to store the weapon and have a gun lock on the gun," Moraga says.


Moraga adds that insurers usually don't bring up firearms when writing a policy. But it's a good idea to tell them upfront if you have any.

"Although insurers may not specifically ask about weapons on their policy questionnaire, because of the higher liability risk of a gun, homeowners should make sure to let their agent or insurance company know," he says. "If an insurer does not know that a homeowner owns a gun and the homeowner files a later claim, the claim may be denied."


What happens if you accidentally shoot someone or yourself while in the home? The Insurance Information Institute says your standard policy will cover some or all of the damages, including medical bills, property damage and liability claims, depending on the amount of coverage you have.


But the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants says on its 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website that you may need to buy additional coverage -- such as "sporting firearm insurance," "collector's firearm insurance" or "gun club liability insurance" -- to guarantee you're fully protected.


More on and MSN Money:

Jan 7, 2013 4:05PM
Auto's are a deadly weapon when uses incorrectly by the owner or user of the vehicle. The fuel is highly taxed, the owner of the vehicle is required to maintain liability insurance incase of misuse or accident , every owner needs a license to operate the vehicle and every vehicle needs to be registered with the state and is accessible on a national data base.  . Fire arm deaths and vehicle deaths are almost equal in the U.S., 30 some thousand each. It would make sense to treat fire arms the same as vehicles. Require a minimum of $300,000 liability insurance for each harmed victim with uninsured user coverage, require a use license, require registration of each fire arm and provide proof of insurance for registration, tax the bullets to offset the cost of the police to deal with weapon misuse. and accident. Like a car, if your using a  vehicle or gun, you would need registration, license and proof on insurance with you incase you are checked for reckless or suspicious use. Age limit should also be imposed.
Jan 7, 2013 4:03PM

Pete Moraga is flat wrong!  With over 30 years in the insurance industry, I can tell you that there are no exclusions in a standard liability policy or homeowner's policy for accidents involving firearms. If someone is accidentally injured or killed by your firearm (not intentionally shot), your liability insurance will pay up to the policy limits, without exception. However, with that said, we should pass a law to make stand-alone firearm liability insurance mandatory. You have a right to own a firearm, but you you also have a responsibility to bear the risk that guns pose to the community. The amount of risk can be controlled or reduced by responsible gun ownership, like training, trigger locks, gun safes, etc.  But gun owners should primarily bear the risk associated with gun ownership.  Mandatory licensing with insurance could establish a fund to compensate victims of gun violence.  The greater the the risk, the higher the premiums. Want to own an assault-style weapon? OK, then you should pay relatively a very high premium to insure it.  Owning the gun without the required insurance would be a Felony.  

Jan 7, 2013 4:02PM
Hey stupid--no such thing as a 'rider' for a policy. Where do you supposed 'experts' come up with this misinformation? Why are you trying to purposely mislead homeowners? Every homeowner should know everything about their policy and what is covered. Any smart homeowner knows that if you own ANYTHING, that is worth more than the limits of the standard coverage, then you have to ENDORSE or change the policy to increase the coverage of what you own (usually with an appraisal)--be it a piece of jewelry, a fur, the family silver, or a gun, and there will be an increase in premium for the coverage. One of the best companies out there has a particular endorsement on their your choice homeowners policy that raises the coverage to 10,000 (in some states) without an appraisal. And yes, if you do not tell your company that you own a gun or anything else that is worth more than your coverage, they will only cover it up to the limit on the policy. A company will not deny a theft claim on a gun simply because it is a gun. That is purposely and intentionally misleading, and simply not true. A gun is property or a belonging  just like any other property in your home and is covered in your homeowner's policy
Jan 7, 2013 4:02PM

Can one of you liberals answer this question?  Who or what gave you and I the right to practice our freedom of religion and who pr what can alter or take that right away from us?

Most, if not all insurance companies, allow $1500 coverage for "sporting equipment" including guns, fishing, hunting, trapping equipment so if you have guns, by all means get them appraised and valued then add a rider to your home owners' policies' about 6 extra bucks a month- if you don't and your guns are stolen you are generally only reimbursed 1500 bucks so go out and get those guns insured and buy more, buy as many as you can and while you're at it, buy ammo because they may not be able to stop gun sales but they can seriously reduce the availability of ammo.  "They" in this case refers to the US Gov't.  Please, buy and keep guns at all cost, you never know when you'll need one and you should not be without at least one!

PS:  US Hunters combined, comprise the largest standing army in the world, so when the crap hits the fan, be happy if your neighbors are hunters because I guarantee they're families will be protected and these liberal anti-gun knuckleheads will be the first to go - it used to survival of the fittest now it's survival of the best shot.  
Jan 7, 2013 3:42PM
Yea, sure...and then when Feinstein and her crew get their way...the feds start combing through insurance company records and find out who has guns. I'll take my chances.
Jan 7, 2013 3:41PM

Leave it to the hacks who call themselves journalists that work for MSNBC - totally not true - by the way the piece about gun laws in England - they forgot to mentiona bout the guy who shot a burglar IN HIS HOUSE with a shotgun that wasn't registered  they charged him with murder, if he pleaded down to manslaughter he would only get 10-12 years and be out in 7 - is that where we are headed?

This is not journalism - this is clearly biased anti-gun agenda by Obama's favorite "news" organization - these guys couldn't get jobs at the Enquirer with their resume - I only hope that someday this will come back to haunt them - I don;t watch anything on thier network - thats the best i can do right now to avoid giving them $$ - how they sleep at night amazes me - maybe someday someone will have the guts to come forward and expose them for what they are - emails, directives, etc. saying how this is how they should report news - that person would get a job with any credible news organization in a heartbeat and paid a lot more than MSNBC is paying them

Jan 7, 2013 3:41PM

REGARDLESS..Of How You feel...

ABOUT tHE iSSUE..Of  INFORMING Your Insurance Compnay about Your Firearms..


in Child proof...THEFT just Common sense ..and a Respect...for Family ,self. and Neighbors...

Can't afford a Good Safe..? Buy Individual Locks.....Better Than Nothing

Jan 7, 2013 3:40PM

More crap from a lib. rag...What about the gun and homeowner that shoots the armed robber before he gets away with your wife's diamond rings and necklaces, thus preventing a hefty claim for the insurer?  None of those stories get published.


Also, gun control is focusing on your front sight as you obtain your sight picture and target; then pull the trigger straight back and firmly thus eliminating the target!

Jan 7, 2013 3:39PM

Be careful, this is the beginning.


Read what Thomas Jefferson has said, what I just said is not all that paranoid.

Jan 7, 2013 3:37PM
Everything about MSN, CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN and the rest have a bad smell about them.   It seems like the "new world order" folks just don't want us to have our guns.  Does anyone even know WHY we have the 2nd amendment,.....just to help you out, it is for us citizens to protect ourselves from a tyrannical government.  As things are shaping up,....we're going to need our guns. 
Jan 7, 2013 3:35PM
Jan 7, 2013 3:29PM
At a family gathering in Mona, Utah, a 4-year grandson went into his grandmother's bedroom, opened her dresser drawer, pulled out her loaded pistol and shot his 5-year old cousin dead.  His grandmother returned the loaded pistol to the drawer (where it would be readily accessible in case an intruder came in and threatened her).
When asked where the blame lay for the death of her grandson, she said, "The blame lies with the grandson who shot his cousin.  He knew he was not allowed to snoop in his grandmother's dresser."
Is the protection against an intruder more important than the threat of injury or death of a family member?
My neighbor in Los Angeles had a burglar quietly enter his home at night by picking the lock on his back door.  The burglar opened kitchen drawers until he found a large butcher knife.  He carried the knife with him when he went into John's bedroom and lifted john's trousers from the bedpost.  The burglar went out the way he had come in (he had left the kitchen door open).  As he went through the kitchen he left the butcher knife on the kitchen table (no finger prints and this happened before DNA).  As the burglar walked through the back yard to the alley he took all of the cash he found in John's wallet (approximately $700), dropped the wallet and trousers and looked for the next home that was easy pickings---several homes that same night.
The police explained to John that since John was in bed and the burglar was watching him, had John stirred the burglar would probably have run out the open back door.  If John looked like he was reaching for a weapon and the burglar felt trapped, the burglar would plunge the butcher knife through John's throat.
This is only one example of an intruder, I  admit.
Unless you live alone, keep trigger locks on all weapons.  The risk of accidental injury or death from loaded fire arms far exceeds the risk of injury or death from an intruder.

Jan 7, 2013 3:28PM
"Safety always an issue for gun insurance"......Really? When did the insurance company start asking about gun safety on your homeowners policy?  I've never heard of such a thing, and I'll bet you haven't either. This is the anti-gun loby trying to stir up trouble where none exists! Pay no attention to the pea brain who wrote this article!
Jan 7, 2013 3:23PM

The husseins minions say that it is a good idea to tell your insurance company that you have firearms, when they can't find all the registered guns your insurance company will give them another list to go after.



Jan 7, 2013 3:20PM
Just another way to know who has the weapons in this country.  Don't believe what you read at the top. 
Jan 7, 2013 3:16PM

This site is so leftist it makes me sick....<<< moving along now

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