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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 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. 
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 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 11:39PM
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 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 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 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.
If you have a hand gun for protection, it will not do you any good if you have it locked up in a safe with a trigger lock and unloaded. If some one breaks in to your home while you are there you will not have time to get your gun out of a safe remove a trigger lock then load it, you will be dead before you even get to the safe.
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 6, 2013 10:25AM
I have several guns around the house....mostly i have used them for hunting, ect. the cost of guns has gone up so much that you almost need a rider. 2500 bucks is the limit on my basic homeowners policy. I have the rider....If your insurance company will not insure your guns. go to the NRA they use to have gun insurance and it was reasonable in price. Most of THIS ARTICLE IS a TYPICAL gun HATER piece of garbage.
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 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 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 5, 2013 5:06AM

Right, just give every detail of your gun collection to your insurer so they can pass it on to Government. Then comes the knock at the door by the ATF for checks on newly banned weapons and high capacity magazines.


Kind of like "get your flu shot now" and get inflected by the liberal thinking virus of mass socialism and bigger more powerful government with less freedoms....................

Jan 6, 2013 10:27AM
I have a ADT system and I am insured by Smith and Wesson // COLT
Jan 5, 2013 3:02AM
Like the famous saying goes "you can have my guns when you pry from my dead,cold fingers!!!!! 
Jan 7, 2013 8:08AM
Just another BS article by the Libs to find out who has guns so the govt can confiscate in the future. Register with insurance co and either govt gets the info or someone hacks insurance database and prints all gun owners addresses. Want to know what gums I have.... break into my house and find what lead they pull from your body....
Jan 7, 2013 7:02AM
only a total idiot would tell the government, I mean insurance company, I mean snitch, err, yeah, about any weapons in the house. The bankers are enough snitches for the government. Just arm up and shut up!
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.
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