If you are one of the millions of homeowners who own a firearm (or several), you have special insurance concerns. While in the majority of cases it is illegal to own and store firearms in your home, how should they be insured?
On a standard homeowners’ special form policy (HO3 or equivalent) firearms are discussed under Section I – Property Coverages. There under “3. Special Limits of Liability” is this notation:
Firearms will be covered under the property portion of the policy, but only up to $2,500 and only for the peril of theft.
It is important to note that this is a sub-limit and does not increase your policy limits. So if you have $100,000 in contents coverage, the $2,500 firearms limit will be included in that amount, not in addition to it.
Should your firearms collection (including related equipment) be worth more than $2,500, you will need to discuss higher limits of coverage with your broker that would be in addition to your policy limit. This endorsement may also extend coverage to firearms for perils other than just theft.
The issue of liability insurance coverage for firearms is a bit more tricky. While the policy itself usually doesn’t specifically include firearms, it doesn’t exclude them, either.
However, specific policy language does include or exclude coverage based on the circumstances. Here is what the policy says about Personal Liability:
Based on this wording, if a shooting occurs in your home or on your property it would be covered, right? Well, it depends on the circumstances.
The first thing to note is who is an “insured”. That is typically you, your spouse and children, any resident relatives, children under the age of 21 who reside in your home and are under the care of a resident relative, and children under the age of 24 away at school full time. If a claim or suit is brought against any of these people, then there would be coverage. EXCEPT…
The policy expects the bodily injury or property damage to be accidental. An accidental discharge would be covered, but if an insured uses the gun to purposely cause bodily injury or property damage to another person, then there would be no coverage in the event of a claim or lawsuit.
The accidental bodily injury or property damage doesn’t just extend to accidental discharges. If an insured is using the firearm in a lawful manner (such as hunting) and accidentally causes bodily injury or property damage, then that would be covered. If the injury or damage is intentional, then it would not be covered.
In Protection of Property
There is one place where the “expected or intended injury” exclusion doesn’t seem to apply.
If “bodily injury” is caused during the use of reasonable force by an insured to protect persons or property, the exclusion does not apply and coverage most likely will be provided to the insured, depending on the circumstances and state or local laws.
Insured vs. Insured
Accidents with firearms do occur. In the case of accidental discharge where one insured strikes another insured causing bodily injury, there would, unfortunately, be no coverage. Typically insurance companies exclude insured vs. insured claims.
Should You Disclose Firearms Ownership?
Most homeowners’ insurance applications don’t even ask the question about whether you own firearms. The limitations and exclusions of a standard policy make the question unnecessary for most insurers.
From a liability standpoint, it may not be necessary to disclose gun ownership. From a property perspective, it would be necessary to disclose ownership in order to be sure that the proper amount of coverage is in place for a number of firearms and accessories with values exceeding the policy sub-limit, or in order to obtain coverage for perils other than theft.
Review your policy and talk to your Hayes Broker to be sure that you are properly covered.