Does Owning a Gun Affect Insurance Rates?

Does Owning a Gun Affect Insurance Rates?
••• Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Your homeowners insurance policy protects your home and its contents against damage, vandalism and theft. It also protects you if someone is injured in your home, and the accident is your fault. Your rate depends on the dollar value of your coverage and your home's risk. If the insurance provider considers you a high risk -- for example, your home is deemed prone to burglary or circumstances exist that may lead to you filing a personal injury claim -- then your policy will cost more money. Owning a firearm increases your risk on both counts.

Personal Property Coverage

A typical home insurance policy covers the theft of your gun as part of its personal property coverage. The firearms sub-limit applies, which means the insurance company only covers the first $2,500 of your loss. If you own several guns, or a single firearm of high value, you need specialized coverage. This takes the form of a rider, added to your policy, which increases the coverage for a single item or event. Not all insurers offer gun riders, however. If yours does not, you need to buy a separate "personal articles" policy for the value of your firearms.

Personal Liability Coverage

Accidents represent a small fraction of all gun fatalities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, but the rate is going up. If your firearm injures someone in your home, and it is your fault, the personal liability section of your homeowners policy pays out to the limit of your coverage. A typical policy covers the claimant's medical bills and compensatory damages, together with the legal expenses you incur while defending a claim, up to $100,000.

Extra Coverage

Personal injury claims involving guns can be lengthy, complex and expensive. For extra protection, you can beef up your standard homeowners coverage with a personal liability umbrella policy or a specialized firearm product. Specialized products offer additional benefits, such as coverage while your firearm is in transit or used at a sporting event. Premiums escalate according to the dollar value of your coverage.

Safety at a Premium

If the insurer does not consider you a responsible gun owner, your rates will soar. While insurance protocols differ, you'll likely have to install trigger locks and other safety devices, and lock your gun away in a secure cabinet, to secure lower rates. Few insurers ask applicants whether they own firearms when writing a policy. You may think about keeping quiet to benefit from lower rates -- don't. If you don't tell your insurer about your gun and there's an incident, the insurer may deny your claim.