Have a valuable gun collection? When it comes to insurance, you’ll want to treat it as you would a precious jewel or expensive electronic equipment. Standard homeowners insurance can cover it to an extent if it’s stolen, for reimbursement or replacement. But you may need to take further steps.
Standard homeowners policies typically cover firearms up to $2,500 against theft. For the household with one or two firearms, that’s likely enough coverage. But what if you need insurance for a special collection or for antique guns?
Gun ownership can have an effect on your insurance premiums – or ability to even get coverage.
Most homeowners’ insurance policies treat guns as a possession. But your policy underwriter might opt to increase how much you pay for coverage based on the increased liability risk associated with a shooting on your property. You might be denied coverage altogether. Gun storage and safety measures could restore your eligibility for insurance or at least mitigate how much more you might pay for coverage.
Other gun-related factors that could impact your premiums and eligibility for coverage include the following:
- Criminal record: If you have a record that involves a firearm, your insurance company could deny future claims that involve guns.
- Nondisclosure: If you don’t tell your insurance company you have a gun, it will likely be difficult to file a claim for it. Failure to disclose might even nullify the policy.
Whether you’re an outdoorsman with many guns or you just have a single weapon, here’s what you can do to maximize how ready you are if something happens to your possessions.
1. Take inventory
Gun owners are sometimes guarded about their collection. A personal firearm inventory doesn’t have to compromise privacy. And, it can prove invaluable should the owner need reimbursement through his or her insurance coverage.
It’s crucial to establish proof of ownership, for insurance and legal reasons. Even guns purchased in a private sale have a legal paper trail, and you should document them.
What do I need for an inventory?
Ask your agent, but following are some likely requirements:
- A receipt or proof of purchase
- The name of the manufacturer and the model number
- A photo
Where should I keep the inventory?
The most cautious gun owners suggest you split your collection in two and document it in separate books. There are other options, each with pros and cons.
- Bank safety deposit box
- Cloud storage
- Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, with photos of receipts embedded
- Location within your home (in a safe)
- Location somewhere other than your home
In all instances, keep a backup copy.
It’s best to be forthright with your insurance carrier when it comes to any firearms you own. It’s better to disclose your possessions so you can insure them.
2. How do you get extra coverage?
What if the value of your firearms exceeds the $2,500 limit in a standard homeowners policy? You still have some options to cover your collection.
The easiest and generally least costly method is to schedule an endorsement with your existing home insurance provider. This increases the coverage limit for firearms within your policy.
The other method is to purchase a personal articles floater, a separate policy with higher limits just for your collection. These policies usually are sold by providers with experience insuring a specific type of item and typically offer extra benefits – including no deductibles in many cases.
Either option gives you a way to make sure there’s enough coverage should your firearms be damaged in a covered peril or stolen.
3. Should I get an umbrella policy?
In some ways, insurance companies treat firearms as they would any other expensive possession. In other important ways, guns hold potential for much more liability.
Standard home insurance policies include personal liability coverage, which helps pay legal expenses and awards if someone gets injured on your property and you’re judged responsible. Coverage limits start at $100,000 but can be increased to up to $500,000.
Of course, an incident involving a firearm on your property could easily blow through that larger limit. That’s why you should consider an umbrella policy, which can extend coverage to $1 million or more. An umbrella policy could cover not only events involving your firearms but also any other accidents that could result in you being held liable.
A licensed agent can help you decide how to structure your coverage.