This is a question I sometimes receive from students. Firearms are expensive and if they were to be lost to a fire, flood, or theft the owner could be out some serious financial assets. Firearms are on a short list, along with real estate, classic cars, and some baseball cards, that if you take really good care of them, then they always appreciate over time.
We often think of firearms as safety and security assets and while that is certainly true they are also financial assets worth protecting.
Are Your Firearms Covered by Your Homeowners Insurance?
In short, the answer is, in part they are covered. Go grab the declaration page of your homeowner's insurance policy and check the line for “Personal Property.” This dollar amount represents the maximum amount of cash your insurance company will pay you to cover the loss of personal property in any one given incident/claim.
Your firearms are personal property and would generally be covered as such in an insurance claim BUT …
- Insurance companies often include sub-limits for specific categories of items. Meaning that while your policy may state it covers personal property up to $150,000 there may be a sub-limit for firearms that caps off at a maximum of $2,500. If you have $10,000 worth of firearms lost in an incident you would only be able to recover the amount stated in the sub-limit applied to that category. Ask your broker or agent if you have a sub-limit for firearms. In my experience, the sub-limit is generally around $2,500. If your firearms are collectively worth more than $2,500 they are probably not covered.
- Insurance companies also may have specific types of claims that are blocked or not allowed for any one given category of personal property. So while your policy might generally cover theft, fire, and flood; firearms may only be protected from loss by theft. Again, ask your broker or agent what types of claims can be made for your firearms.
This is Also All Assuming You Can Prove It
Let us assume that you experience a loss that is covered by your policy. The dollar amount is within the limit and the type of loss is covered. Does this mean the insurance company will pony up a check for you just by you asking? No, not exactly.
Insurance companies have to protect themselves from insurance fraud; a practice in which people falsely report the number of items, type of items, or value of the items lost in the incident. So by you just telling the insurance company that you owned 16 firearms that collectively are worth $3000 they will need a way to investigate and confirm or deny that claim.
The key takeaway here is that you need some sort of viable record of your property (including your firearms). You can keep a written or digital record (often called a home inventory) somewhere that would be protected from theft or loss. Perhaps in a bank security box or in some sort of online secured storage. Videos can be effective as insurance companies see them as more valid than a written record. Ultimately the more images, detail, etc., you include about your firearms the better. You can consider using the firearm library tool which is a free tool in our free mobile app, Concealed Carry Gun Tools.
However you decide to do it, make sure you keep a detailed record of your firearms that you can provide to the insurance company in the case of a claim.
There Are Some Things Money Can't Replace
Now, you likely own some guns that can't be replaced with cash. That one firearm you inherited from a family member, the one you have customized and the firearm that you just outright trust with your life. Would a check from an insurance company for the “replacement value” really make you feel good about the situation?
If the answer is to any degree “no,” then you might want to take some proactive action and consider how you can minimize your risk of loss from theft, fire, and flood. The answer is actually fairly obvious …
Just Get A Quality Gun Safe And Sleep Better At Night
Whether your policy just doesn't fully cover your firearms and/or because you just assume not have to file the claim to start with you should consider how you can securely and safely protect your firearms from loss. The best method is a high quality gun safe.
If you are preparanoid (thank you Klint Macro for the new word) like me then you probably want to have firearms staged around the house for potential home invasions or other home based emergencies. Consider how you stage those firearms. Most smaller, handgun safes are NOT rated to protect your firearms from fire or flood and depending on the quality and how they are secured in the home they may not protect your firearm from theft either.
Generally if you want a gun safe that will fully protect you from fire, flood, or theft you should invest in a larger “full-size” rifle safe that specifies its fire rating. These are generally communicated by a certain number of degrees over a specific number of minutes. One of my safes is rated at 1200 degrees for 60 minutes as an example. Now these full-size, fire-rated, too-heavy to steal safes are expensive. You should plan to spend $1000+ but given the context; that seems like a small price to pay to protect a firearm collection that might be worth in excess of $5000.
If you are looking for a quick way to calculate the value of your firearms you can probably just assume an average value of $750 per firearm. Looking for something more specific? Try the Blue Book of Gun Values.
Now one other reason you should probably consider the quality gun safe … you are likely to store a lot of things in there that aren't firearms. For most gun owners the full-size gun safe is the most secure place in the house so it often ends up hosting deeds to property, titles to cars, cash, jewelry, and other valuables.
What other questions or comments do you have about firearms and insurance coverage? Let me know in the comments below.