Will owning a gun increase my home insurance costs?

30 Aug
Concealed Carry Arms

While your home insurance provider may not require you to disclose your guns, insurers will not cover every claim that is associated with firearms.

Firearms can be tricky when it comes to homeowners insurance. While most insurers are not concerned whether you own a gun or not, there can be coverage issues if you accidentally shoot someone, leaving you on the hook for medical bills and the cost of any lawsuits.

Below is what you need to know about insurance coverage and firearms so you don’t find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit.

Will Owning Guns Increase Insurance Costs?

In most cases the answer is no, insurance companies are rarely interested in your firearm collection and guns will usually will not impact your premium. The majority of insurance companies don’t even ask about firearms when customers apply for a policy. In certain states it is illegal for insurers to discriminate or charge higher rates for policyholders who have guns, Florida is just one example.

While they may not require you to disclose your guns, insurers will not cover every claim that is associated with firearms. If your firearm injures someone there is a good chance you will be held liable and depending on the exact circumstances, you may not have any coverage.

Shootings and Liability

In most cases, accidental shootings are covered but there can be exceptions. If a guest is injured in your home by a firearm there could be major medical expenses and there is also the possibility of a lawsuit, both of which can result in skyrocketing expenses and a claim on your homeowners insurance.

Homeowners insurance also extends to accidental shootings that occur outside your home, as an example, an accident while you are out hunting. Your insurance policy would cover this as well as long as the shooting was not classified as a crime.

The major caveat that comes with homeowners coverage and firearms is exactly what constitutes a crime in your particular state. In some states, storing your firearms in a location where minors can access them can be considered a crime and in others, if alcohol or drugs were involved in the incident it may be considered a crime as well.

If it turns out that the incident could be considered a crime, then your insurance company will most likely not cover the claim. If the incident is a true accident then insurance would usually cover the claim but experts warn that the exact wording of the policy and local laws can impact insurance claims related to firearms.

It should be noted that liability coverage only extends to guests. If you or a family member that lives in the house is injured by your firearms, there is no coverage. Your medical bills would fall to your medical insurance or life insurance if the incident were fatal.

Coverage Limits and Firearms

When it comes to accidental shootings and the resulting expenses, it is important to remember that your coverage will be capped at your policy’s liability limits and in many cases this may not be enough. Medical bills and legal fees if the incident results in a lawsuit can quickly add up. While carrying $200,000 in coverage may sound like a lot, it may prove insufficient if the claim involves a shooting.

Many experts recommend carrying a personal umbrella policy if you have firearms in your home. These policies offer supplemental liability coverage and are very affordable for the amount of coverage they provide. Personal umbrella policies are typically sold in $1 million increments.

It is also important to remember that when it comes to personal property, there are often coverage caps on the value of firearms. A standard homeowners policy often has a cap on expensive personal possessions such as artwork, collectibles, jewelry and in many cases firearms. The coverage cap will vary by insurer but $1,500 is fairly typical so if you own firearms that are valued at more than this amount you may need a rider to fully protect them.

Are Self-Defense Shootings Covered?

Insurance coverage will almost always vary by the facts of your particular case and state laws where you live. While some states have “Stand-Your-Ground” laws that give some leeway to gun owners who shoot someone in self-defense, most insurers have specific wording in their policies that addresses intentional shootings.

The majority of insurance policies include an exclusion that denies coverage for any injuries that were deliberately caused by the policyholder and shooting someone on purpose, even a burglar, falls into this category. If you shoot an intruder and they end up suing you, whether or not you are covered will depend on state law and the circumstances of your case but in many cases, if you shoot deliberately you will be on your own when it comes to defense costs.

It is possible to purchase a standalone policy that offers coverage for your firearms as well as offering liability coverage for shootings that involve self-defense. The United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) offers policies that provide both coverage for your guns as well as liability protection and gun safety training courses.

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