Homeowner’s Insurance and Guns

Gun Laws at Home

If you are a gun owner or thinking about purchasing a firearm, you may be wondering if and how homeowner’s insurance will cover you. You need to know about personal property coverage and liability coverage. Most homeowner’s policies offer limited protection in both areas. If your guns are valuable, the personal property limits of your policy are probably inadequate. As far as liability goes, some policies exclude firearms liability entirely. Most limit the types of incidents that they cover, with many leaving you on the hook civilly for injuries or death caused in self-defense. To know if you are covered, you need to examine the fine print in your policy. If you are not adequately covered, you can purchase supplemental insurance that specifically covers firearms.

Stolen or Damaged

Your homeowner’s policy will provide some coverage to replace or repair if your firearm if it is stolen or damaged, but the policy limit is typically $2,500 or less. If you own an antique or otherwise valuable firearm, or if you own multiple guns and accessories, that is probably not nearly enough to cover their value.

Firearm Accident Liability

Most homeowner insurance policies cover accidental shootings at your home, while hunting, or participating in shooting sports. But the policy limit is typically around $100,000, which may not be nearly enough if something terrible happens. And remember, some policies exclude firearm accident liability, so you must check your policy.

Stolen Guns

If your firearm is stolen and the thief or someone they transfer it to uses it to injure or kill someone during the commission of a crime, you may face a negligence lawsuit for failing to adequately secure the firearm. Standard homeowner’s policies exclude intentional acts and will not protect you if your firearm is used in the commission of a crime, even though you are not the shooter or the criminal.

Self-Defense/Reasonable Force

Self defense is sometimes covered, again you need to check your policy. In the early 1990’s it became quite common for policies to state that the “intentional acts” exclusion does not apply to injuries and death resulting from the use of “reasonable force” to protect yourself, someone else, or your property.

But, not all policies include the language. As crazy as it sounds, if someone breaks into your house and tries to kill you, and you shoot them in self-defense, you may be held civilly liable for the thief’s injuries or death.

Talk to an attorney if you have any legal concerns.

About Sandra Dalton

With a background as a paralegal, focusing on criminal defense and civil rights, Sandra Dalton launched her freelance writing career in 2000 with a weekly column on Freedom for Suite 101 and pro bono projects for individuals and organizations supporting causes close to her heart. One of her first projects was for the Police Compliant Center writing about police misconduct. Sandra’s legal writing quickly expanded to include personal injury, animal welfare, criminal defense, disability discrimination, family law and much more.