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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 5, 2013 2:00AM
Sure does smell like an anti gun article. Shame on you for putting out misinformation. It is a scare tactic and unfortunately, a lot of you reading this will agree.
Jan 5, 2013 1:31AM
My insurance company never ask I told them how many and how much and I wanted replacement value no problem no extra cost because we have replacement value on everything.
Jan 5, 2013 1:22AM
Please send me about $30,000 and I'll gladly move out of this country to one that is more sane--to one that has some reasonable gun control--and, contrary to the idiot author, Australia is on my list.
Jan 5, 2013 1:11AM
Whenever there are guns around, someone will get shot--by accident or on purpose.  We have never, ever, in this country really addressed the issue of mental illness.  We will not ever provide enough money or regulation/s or compulsory hospitalization-institutionalization.  We are a very screwed up society with excessive violence, proven by the murder rate in our major cities (and minor ones, too).  The other day I walked into a furniture store to check out beds.  The guy who walked in ahead of me was packing.  Was he a nut? Probably not, but if he didn't have a gun, I wouldn't have had to even think about it.  Yes, he could have had a knife.  How many knife attacks do you read about? Virtually NONE. 

I have guns at home, but I rarely take them out.  I do know how to use them and I hunted with my father from about 12 to 24 (He was a medal-winning pistol marksman). 

If someone broke into my home, I'd have no problem shooting them--and my aim is still pretty good, but allowing all kinds of people to run around loose with guns is just plain nuts--and so is Larry Kudlow.  He's one of the last people I'd trust with a gun or, for that matter, Rick Santelli or Marisa Cabrera.

The second amendment to the Constitution does NOT permit the unlimited ownership of weapons, no matter what a warped Supreme Court says.

Jan 5, 2013 1:09AM

Gun control? It is using 2 hands! And by that I mean it is not the gun, it is who is behind/firing the weapon period! Why do we not have a ban on knives? They are all over. You can go to the corner grug store and buy one. Ever seen what a mentally unstable person can do to a few people with a 5' blade?

I understand that the laws should be enforced, but to completely ban, come on. And this article,full of b.s. Personal property people, add it to your policy and keep the serial #s to yourself in a safe place.

Hell, my insurance agent has 2 ar 15s. he does use them for hunting to, with the appropriate magazines, 5 rounds I believe is what is required. It just boils down to responsibilities of the owners.

Jan 5, 2013 1:08AM
I have a gun safe. It weighs about 900lbs. Steal it if you can. I have a lot of guns in it. I have another with many thousands of rounds of various ammunition in it. I have a conceal carry permit. I will not stop at your home to defend you. If the criminal comes and breaks into my home I will be happy to call for a 1st responder and a body bag. No offense. I will protect my home. My insurance is up to date and accurate.
Jan 5, 2013 12:07AM

I take issue with the third to the last paragraph of this article! Unless firearms are specifically excluded in the policy, they are covered. I have always been asked by agents writing homeowners if I have firearms that are valued higher than the standard $2,500.00; but only to sell me an additional rider. I have never been asked about firearms when completing the application that is attached to and made part of the policy!


I have been in the insurance business for over 30 yrs!

Jan 4, 2013 11:39PM
Worst, most misinformed insurance article I've ever seen on MSN. Usually, it's ignorant commenters who get me going. This time, it's a writer with a gun related agenda, who's trying to pretend it's an Insurance issue.
I have 25 years in claims and agency for the nation's largest insurer. Most of what's written here is wrong at best, made up at worst.  Most of these "facts" did not come from anyone with actual knowledge of how insurance works. Very disappointing.
Jan 4, 2013 11:33PM
Chicago yesterday ---run run have no gun--run run call cops---run run have no gun was shot in the back by two punk asses there to rob him---chicago has the strictist gun control in the country and more murders than any toher city/state---this happened yesterday in chicago the muffler shop owner was shot in the back running for the phone when they were robbing him----
Jan 4, 2013 11:16PM

I to was in army 1969 yes V.nam. I was trained on how to use a weapon (m 14) yes it was able to be used as full auto. on the range we were limited to semi auto. in sighting in we were single shot. a person that has a gun and knows how to use it only needs 1 shot. as so many people have said more laws wont fix the problem. making the laws that we already have work will help. helping the people that have mental problems will also help.

people think about this.

we did not have these kind of problem when we (age 65) were growing up. ask your selves why that is, and lets try as a nation to get back to that way of life

Jan 4, 2013 11:07PM
I think a law should be passed that makes the gun owner criminally liable if someone steals , or borrowers his gun and uses it to commit a crime (murder they face murder charge, robbery they face robbery charges, and having a gun in a house where a mentality unsound person lives also) This would make sure that responsible owners will secure guns where they cannot be accessed by Kids, thieves, or any one not registered.
Jan 4, 2013 10:22PM

Look People, I see statments on gun control. What I do not see is any one willing to give good advice. We have a growing problem with gun in the hands of People that should not have them to start with. Here is one other thing to think about. Put a band on any GUNS that hold more then 5 rounds. Then a box a years is all any house hold can have in there home. For those that want to target practice. Go to a shooting range were they can practice in a safe area. were they can shoot legelly they can buy rounds to use on the range. There is NO need for 30 round clips. NO need for simautomati Rifle in the hands of American People. If you are in fear of being over run then go in to the Military. You will have the training to us it the right way. Plus you will be serving America. I do not need a Gun. Should a time come when I need a gun I know were to get it. I can get what I need from the Army. They will use me  For I was in the U.S.Army in 1969 and then some. I do not fear any thing. I can dead only one time.


                                                                                                                                               Merit E. Stroud

                                                                                                                                  5489 Sailor Rd. Deer Park, Wa. 99006

Jan 4, 2013 10:21PM

" this a medical emergency?"............"Not yet,...........BUT.....I just got home from work and.........I think my neighbor is being robbed........... right in front of his home!".........."Address?".........."It's Anyhome, Anywhere, USA........but I'm in my car.........just across the street......with a conceal/carry permit and a 9 mil.........I just don't want to offend my neighbor with assertive action and a gun..............what should I do?".............."What?........just wait?".........."OK".........


"Oh No!"............................."never mind...........just send an ambulance"....................    

Jan 4, 2013 10:06PM
It is disturbing how much deep seated paranoia there  is within the gun fetish  community.
Jan 4, 2013 9:30PM
I have some baseball bats, should I let my insurance company know????, oh yeah and I have some sticks in the woods, and rocks in my drive way.....really
Jan 4, 2013 9:25PM
Make a photo copy of your gun permit and put it on your front door. That ought to make your insurance rates go down.
Jan 4, 2013 9:15PM
No insurance, no guns - cause you are liable for anything that happens with those weapons.  Go after the $$$ and guns will slowly dry up.
Jan 4, 2013 8:59PM
To let my insurance company know I have guns requires that I give up all serial numbers and quantity. With all the talk of gun control,banning certain guns ect.. Im not willing to let the world know exactly what I own . Keep them guessing !!
Jan 4, 2013 8:53PM
Please!!!!!  before you believe most of what is above let me set the record straight.  An insurance company will no more cancel or deny a claim for a gun than they will for the fishing eqipment or jewelry simply beause you did not tell them you have them.  The only part I found correct was that there is a limit for the theft of firearms, just like there is for cash, jewelry and coins  Additional coverage can be bought.  How do I know this, 35 years in the insurance industry.  This article has a bad smell of the anit-gun view point. 
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