Montana – -(Ammoland.com)- A couple of Montana Shooting Sports Association members have asked me recently about insurance for firearms and self defense. That divides into two sub-topics:
- 1) Insurance for firearms stolen or lost in a fire, etc., and
- 2) Insurance for legal costs if a person must use a firearm in self defense.
Coverage for loss or theft.
Montana Shooting Sports Association estimates that the average gun-owning household in Montana contains 27 firearms (Right. If your gun safe has space it may be shopping time.) Even with modest firearm values, the total value of such a standard collection will probably exceed the limits for firearms on a typical homeowner's or renter's insurance policy.
What should a person with such a collection do?
If you're independently wealthy and can afford to replace a lost collection, you might choose to do nothing. The rest of us will probably want some sort of insurance.
NRA membership comes with a modicum of firearms insurance – $2,500. The NRA may have expanded coverage available for a price. Your homeowner's policy may cover a minimal amount of firearms too. There are other insurance products for firearms out there. This is not intended to be a review of competing insurance options. However, one affordable option may be to simply add an increase in value for firearms to your existing homeowner's policy. That's what I do. It is not expensive.
If you take this route, some homeowner's insurance companies will insist on a list of the firearms you want protected on the policy, including makes, models, serial numbers, and maybe photos. Because of privacy concerns, I wouldn't provide that.
However, if your homeowner's insurance company is willing to insure a certain value amount for firearms, for a disclosed premium, you will certainly want to privately document your firearm collection. If you ever have a loss (e.g., fire), you will need to be able to produce a list of the firearms for which you claim insurance coverage. You should have a list of the makes, models, and serial numbers, and photographs, all stored in some secure place and offsite. This is the alternative I use and that my homeowner's insurance company allows.
My friend Stephen says, ” Some companies (e.g., The Hartford) have denied insurance to homeowners on the disclosure that they own firearms, thus, anyone seeking to have firearms covered under the homeowner policy should proceed with caution.”
Coverage for self defense.
Montana Shooting Sports Association has done a great job of building a legal infrastructure to help protect you if you are forced to use a firearm for self defense. I won't list all of the laws here (hey, buy my book, Gun Laws of Montana ), but MSSA has gotten many laws passed to help you in case of either or both a criminal prosecution and/or a civil suit.
With these laws on the books, why would insurance be necessary or desirable?
Because sometimes prosecutors will prosecute even in a clear case of self defense. I've seen this multiple times in Montana. Then, even if the laws are on your side, you may be faced with an expensive legal defense in a criminal prosecution. And, even if you are not charged criminally, or if you are charged and exonerated, there could still be a follow-on lawsuit from the next of kin of your deceased assailant. Even though one law we got passed says that they cannot collect damages from you if you properly used lethal force in legitimate self defense, it may take thousands of dollars in legal defense costs before you can get to the point in the process where you can assert this law.
Because of these uncertainties, I am one of those people who carries insurance specifically for this. This insurance will help protect my assets should I ever be forced to use force in self defense.
So, what self defense insurance is best? I don't know. There are a number of providers out there. The NRA has recently started a program for this. Another large player is the US Concealed Carry Association. My insurance is with the Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network. I don't claim to be well informed about the products and terms offered by these different providers. I have studied this subject some, as we've tried to spool up such a program for Montana Shooting Sports Association members (not working yet, if ever). I do admit a personal concern about big anything (big government, big media, etc.) I tend to think that smaller players may be more nimble and more responsive. I suppose that's why I went with ACLDN.
I do think that if you see personal protection as an important reason for firearms ownership, it's probably worth it to have insurance to cover whatever risks may be associated with that, from whatever provider you prefer.
About Montana Shooting Sports Association:
Montana Shooting Sports Association ( MSSA ) is the primary political advocate for Montana gun owners.