I had lunch on Friday with my youngest son who asked me if I’d seen the news on the Santa Fe High School shooting that morning. I hadn’t and was stunned and deeply saddened to hear there’d been another mass shooting. According to the Washington Post, the Santa Fe shooting marks the 152nd mass shooting where four or more people were killed by either a lone or two shooters in a public space. Their tally began with the clock tower shooter on the campus of the University of Texas in 1966. Since then, 1,091 people have been killed.
The question I want to answer is, what does home insurance cover when it comes to firearms and was addressed in an Insurance Journal article that appeared after the Parkland shooting. There are two coverage types within most home insurance polices that potentially address firearms, personal property and personal liability coverage.
Personal Property: Firearms, like furniture, clothing, electronics, kitchenware, etc. are considered personal property. Most home insurance policies provide coverage for personal property for a variety of perils including loss by fire, wind (tornado, hurricane, etc.), and even theft. Depending on the carrier, there may or may not be limits if a firearm is lost in a fire or carried away by a tornado. Most carriers, however, do have a limit if a single firearm or multiple firearms are stolen in a home burglary of around $2,500 total. Ask your insurance agent or carrier what their limits are if this concerns you.
Personal Liability: Personal liability coverage is designed to protect the homeowner or renter in the event they are sued for negligence, such as a person getting bitten by a dog, falling on your property, etc. In order for this coverage to be used, a claim must be made or a suit brought against the insured or policyholder. The people covered include any resident of the home including students attending school elsewhere and minors.
The policyholder is covered for an accidental shooting or even while defending their home against an intruder. No home insurance policy, however, covers the illegal use of a firearm such as in a theft or mass shooting. If a lawsuit is filed against one of the families of a perpetrator who carried out such an attack, their home insurance policy would deny the claim.
It’s interesting to know what’s covered or isn’t covered, but that doesn’t come close to addressing the need to protect students and adults against such an attack or soften to the loss of a loved one to the families affected by such violence. One place where gun owners can begin, is to properly store their firearms. Buy a locking gun case or safe and keep them away from your kids regardless of their age. At the very least, put trigger locks on your guns which prevent it from being fired. It’s past time for both sides to come together in a constructive manner to address this issue without shouting slogans at one another.
What do you think? Share your comments, questions, and suggestions with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!