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Guns and homeowners insurance

Firearm ownership is common in Canada. An estimated 26% of households in Canada own at least one gun. It’s no surprise, then, that many people are curious about how gun ownership and home insurance interact.

How do guns and home insurance work?

It’s common for people to misunderstand how firearm ownership affects their home insurance policy, or how their policy covers firearms and related equipment. Insurance providers will rarely even ask about firearms, and having guns in the house won’t affect your home insurance premium unless you choose to purchase additional coverage for them.

Most home insurance policies will include firearms as part of your Personal Property coverage. Some policies will specify a separate sublimit of coverage for firearms, which includes additional equipment like ammunition as well. Make sure to review your policy documents to be sure about how much coverage you have for your firearms and equipment. It’s also important to know what your equipment is worth, so you can be certain that you have enough coverage.

Does my home insurance policy cover lost or damaged firearms?

This will vary depending on your insurance provider, but most policies will protect guns as personal property. This means that they are covered for losses that your policy insures against, like theft or fire. Some companies will include only a small limit of coverage for firearms and equipment. If you determine that your guns and equipment are worth more than this amount, you will need to ask your insurance provider if you can purchase additional coverage.

Square One insures firearms, gear, and ammunition under our optional coverage for Bicycles, Sporting Equipment and Watercraft. This allows you to insure your equipment for precisely the amount that you determine it’s worth. If you don’t need coverage for firearms and equipment, you don’t have to pay for it.

Do I still need a separate gun insurance policy?

First, check your home insurance policy to see if your guns are included. If they are, and you’re satisfied with the amount of coverage and types of loss that are covered, you probably don’t need separate gun insurance. If you feel you need more coverage for your guns, it may be simpler to add extra coverage to your existing home insurance policy rather than seeking an entirely new firearm insurance policy. Some gun owners wish to have additional liability insurance to protect them in the event that they accidentally injure someone with a gun. Most home insurance policies include liability insurance that covers accidental property damage or injury, but you may want additional protection. Many firearms clubs provide free or affordable gun liability insurance to their members, with coverage as high as $5 million. This can provide an extra layer of protection over and above your home insurance policy.

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How guns and personal liability insurance coverage work

Gun liability issues can get complicated. Personal liability insurance covers you in the event that you accidentally hurt someone or damage their property. Policies don’t normally exclude firearm-related incidents, but always check your policy documents or ask your home insurance provider to be sure. Accidents happen, even to the most safety-conscious people. Negligence is never an acceptable excuse, though, so adherence to gun safety protocols at all times is critical. Personal liability insurance will never cover you for intentional or criminal acts, which can include wilful or criminal negligence.

My gun is a collectible; is it still covered under my home insurance?

Collectible guns

Collectible guns will be covered in the same manner as other guns, but some policies contain a separate sublimit for collectible property. This can be a problem, as collectible firearms can be far more valuable and more difficult to replace than their everyday counterparts. A 50-year-old gun that was originally worth $100 may be worth thousands now. Most home insurance providers will enable you to purchase additional coverage for valuable collectibles, including firearms. This allows you to insure them for their current market value instead of ordinary replacement cost coverage.

Determining the value

It’s important to determine an accurate value for your collectible guns. Classifieds or auction records are good sources of information on what specific models are worth. You can also consult a record such as the Blue Book of Gun Values. Insurance providers will vary as to what proof they need from you of your guns’ values. In some cases, they will ask you to have your gun professionally appraised.

Tips for keeping your gun safe at home

Proper storage of firearms is a crucial part of gun safety. It’s also an important way to keep your guns in good working order.

Always store firearms unloaded. Keep them locked in a secure container when they’re not in use. Keep ammunition secured as well, and not within each reach of the guns. In Canada, firearms are divided into three classes:

  • Non-restricted,
  • Restricted, or
  • Prohibited.

The rules for storing and transporting guns of each class is slightly different.

Non-restricted:

Non-restricted firearms include rifles and shotguns used for common sporting purposes in Canada. They must be stored disabled, by removing the bolt, applying a secure locking device such as a trigger lock or cable lock, or locking them in a secure cabinet or container. In Canada, all firearms must be stored and transported unloaded.

Restricted and prohibited:

Restricted and prohibited firearms have to be secured with a locking device AND stored in a secure cabinet or container. If the firearm is automatic, the bolt carrier should be removed (if possible) and stored separately and securely. If restricted or prohibited firearms are stored in a gun vault, they do not require a separate locking device such as a trigger lock. Most owners with high security vaults store them with the trigger lock already applied, however.

While in transport, the firearm must be unloaded, disabled with a secure trigger or cable lock, and locked in a non-transparent container, with the bolt carrier removed if possible. You must also obtain an Authorization to Transport (ATT) from the Chief Firearms Officer in your province.

You may also wish to display your firearms for different reasons. This is allowed, but you have to follow the right safety rules. Displayed non-restricted guns must be unloaded and secured with a locking device, or in a locked display cabinet or container. Ammunition must not be displayed with or accessible to the gun. Restricted and prohibited firearms can be displayed as long as they are secured with a locking device and securely attached to something that cannot be moved. The bolt carrier should be removed where applicable.

What will your insurance provider want to know?

Home insurance providers will rarely ask about firearms specifically. If you need coverage beyond your provider’s basic level, you will need to inform them of the value of your collection, including all your gun-related gear such as scopes, grips, magazines, or ammunition. For particularly valuable guns, your home insurer may wish to see proof of purchase, especially in the event of a claim. If you have collectible guns, some insurers will ask you to get them appraised. Whether or not your home insurance provider asks for an appraisal, it’s a good idea to have your guns appraised simply so you can be certain of their value. Your insurer will rely on you to determine the value of your guns and gear, and how much coverage you need.

For more information about how firearms work with your insurance policy, contact Square One at 1.855.331.6933, or get an online insurance quote now.

Guns and homeowners insurance
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