Are firearms and their use covered by a homeowners or renters insurance policy?
While no two homeowners/renters insurance policies are exactly alike, there are some traditional firearms hazards personal insurance covers.
Damage to the firearm
A personal property insurance policy traditionally will cover a firearm which is damaged by a covered peril, such as fire, windstorm or theft. For certain perils such as theft, the policy may limit the amount of coverage to a specific dollar amount, such as $2,500. Any cause of damage that is not a covered peril, such as marring or scratching during maintenance, is not covered.
To enhance the coverage or limits available for losses to firearms, many owners will choose to insure them with a separate insurance policy. Firearms that are insured separately likely are no longer covered by the homeowners or renters insurance policy.
Use of the firearm
The personal liability coverage offered in a homeowners insurance policy kicks in when a person identified in the policy as an “insured” (normally yourself and your resident relatives) is legally liable for causing bodily injury or property damage to another. The policy also will cover the cost to defend a claim or lawsuit against an insured even if it is found to be “groundless, false or fraudulent.”
Many policies do not specifically exclude injury or damage caused by an insured's use of a firearm. Some policies will exclude liability resulting from “expected or intended injury,” which could include the use of a firearm. However, this exclusion often will not apply if the use is considered “reasonable force by an insured to protect persons or property.”
To determine if, and to what extent, liability coverage exists for the use of a firearm, insurance companies and courts will review several factors, including any local or state laws regarding lawful use. The website of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—www.atf.gov—includes a section called “State Laws & Published Ordinances,” which provides a breakdown of many local and state laws regarding firearms in the United States.
For more information about insuring your firearms and their use, especially if you are a collector or have a highly valuable gun, contact your agent.
For more information or answers to your insurance questions, contact us at Allan Block Insurance Agency, www.ambins.com, located in Tarrytown, NY in the heart of Westchester County, a key business district near New York City. We write auto, home, renters, condo, co-op, personal, business, life and group insurance for clients locally and in NYC, CT, NJ, PA, MA and many other states. The Professional Agency with the Personal Touch.