Gun owners may find getting self-defense insurance tougher following Florida shooting

Personal Finance

Gun owners generally will be covered for liability under their homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies, according to Peter Kochenburger, deputy director of the Insurance Law Center at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

“You’re covered for your negligence if you injure someone or if you damage property,” Kochenburger said.

Those policies typically do not exclude accidents related to firearms, he said.

However, rules for these policies vary by state. If an exclusion for gun-related incidents were to be included in a policy, it would need to have been approved by a state’s regulator.

“If you intentionally damage property or injure someone, you don’t get insurance coverage,” Kochenburger said. “We as a society don’t want someone to engage in an illegal act and not have to pay the consequences [of their actions].”

In 2013, three states – Massachusetts, New York and Hawaii – tried to make liability insurance mandatory for gun owners, according to Michael Barry, head of media and public affairs at the Insurance Information Institute, an industry-funded consumer education organization.

“The difficulty is that it would be very difficult for insurers to underwrite,” Barry said. “I think pricing a policy like this would be very difficult to do.”

Victims of a violent assault, however, can receive compensation through a homeowner’s insurance policy. In 2015, Sandy Hook school shooting victims’ families received $1.5 million through the estate of Nancy Lanza, the mother of shooter.

Individuals who own guns need to think through their insurance coverage, particularly for liability, carefully.

“That split second [decision] of whether to shoot or not, it’s hard to imagine that whether they have insurance or not is a thought in their mind,” Kochenburger said.

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