It’s been a strange month at Hank’s Guns and Ammo. And not good strange either. As a part of that I got a visit from one of my semi regulars that made my heart sink.
Charlotte works at City Hall. She’s a big gun rights gal and I’ve sold her plenty of firearms over the years. She loves her job and her co-workers, but she’s got a problem that many folks who work in government have: she can’t carry her gun at work. Charlotte has to keep her gun in her car as a result. Some of you already see where this is going.
Her car was recently broken into in broad daylight in the city hall employee parking lot. The thieves couldn’t be identified by security cameras and they managed to swipe the Smith & Wesson M&P 40 Compact she kept in her glove box in lieu of her purse.
The police showed up, took a report and then she stopped in on the way home. Nearly in tears, she told me that her car had been broken into and that her pistol was now floating around in the hands of who-knows-who, being traded for any number of illegal substances and purposes.
Being a gun dealer is being part bartender, willing to lend a sympathetic ear, so I let her talk about it out for a while before I asked a few questions.
- Did she make a PD report of the stolen firearm?
- Does she have insurance?
- Is there anything I can do to help besides take her money for a new gun?
The good news was that the thief didn’t get anything that couldn’t be replaced. He got her pistol and her son’s Nintendo Switch. (I’m not sure who to feel worse for, her or her kid.)
The bad news is they got the gun and she didn’t have any insurance.
The local police took a report, but she didn’t have a very good system of documenting her property. I’ve talked about this sort of thing before and how it’s a good idea to have some form of catalogue of your valuables.
Personally, I’m a big fan of a simple spiral bound notebook and just keeping up-to-date notes. It’s simple, pretty foolproof and does everything you need it to in a pinch.
Her police report said simply STOLEN FIREARM – S&W 40 CAL with no serial number. The detective assigned to the case asked her to get a serial number so he could add it to the report.
Since she didn’t keep her receipts or anything other documentation, she pulled up some old Facebook pictures of her shooting at the range with her local Girl and a Gun chapter and asked me if I could read the serial number off the box or the side of the gun.
I told her I had a better idea and I went back into the storage closet and pulled out my 2013 sales records. Every dealer catalogs their sales records differently, but in this case it was pretty easy for me to find all the 4473’s she had filled out that year.
Toward the back of the folder I dug out her transaction and got the information she needed. I reprinted the receipt and confirmed that was the same gun/serial number for her and gave it to her for the PD to put in their report. Thankfully my bureaucratic repository of paperwork solved the mystery that was her serial number quandary.
She told me she’d call the PD in the morning first thing and update the report. I told her that’s good, but the unfortunate truth is that gun is likely gone forever, never to be seen again.
That’s when I asked her if she had any insurance.
She said had no firearm insurance at all. She wasn’t a NRA/GOA member and didn’t think that something like this would ever happen to her. She lived in a good neighborhood. She expected people not to break into cars in broad daylight in a city hall parking lot. Stolen firearms were always something that happened to other people.
I nodded in sympathy as I wished her the best.
Before readers lambaste her for keeping a gun in her car, let’s not forget one simple thing. Her gun would not have been there if it were legal for her to carry it where she worked and her employer didn’t prohibit a firearm in the workplace. Because as we all know, nothing bad has ever happened at city hall.
What happened in my customer Charlotte’s case was endemic to many: the gun is prohibited at work, so you keep your carry gun in your car. It’s the classic gun owner’s version of the catch-22.
If the gun is stolen from your car, you’re branded as an irresponsible gun owner who should be sent to the stocks and pilloried. If you’re caught carrying a gun at work, you are branded as an irresponsible gun owner and will probably lose your job (or worse, if, like Charlotte, it’s illegal to have a gun where she works).
My witty rejoinder to all the people who hate guns being stolen from cars is to make carrying firearms legal EVERYWHERE so that folks like Charlotte don’t have to leave them unattended in their vehicles.
Political misgivings aside, what’s done is done and there’s no point crying over spilled milk. This prompted me to think about my own insurance coverage.
My standard homeowners and auto insurance is through the fine folks at State Farm and I checked my homeowners and auto policies for firearm coverage. My policy limit on firearms is $5,000 with a $2500/max per item. This would cover maybe a third of my pistols, and nothing else.
Whoops. Time to shop for some insurance.
My insurance agent suggested that I purchase a personal articles policy as an add-on to my homeowners insurance policy to cover the firearms. The premium would be $75 a year, there would be no deductible and loss due to theft, peril, and mysterious disappearance would be covered.
The policy limit would be $10,000 and they would need a catalog of the items to be insured with photos of the items, serial numbers and appraisals on all items over $5000.
Initial thought: that’s not bad. State Farm is known for their good claim service. As a longtime State Farm homeowners and auto policyholder who has had a handful of claims over the years, they’ve been good to deal with.
Simply put, had Charlotte had a $75/year policy like that one, she’d have 100% replacement cost coverage to buy a new gun.
Still, I wanted to shop around some more and compare coverages, deductibles, exclusions as well as how much info I’d have to surrender to the insurance company. State Farm’s quote was good, but it would easily take me a day and a half to catalog everything firearm-related with pictures and generating an appraisal to their specifications.
I tried to get a quote from Allstate, but they haven’t gotten back yet, which probably tells you something.
NRA via Lockton Affinity has a product called the ArmsCare Plus insurance program available for members. A quick check on their site revealed a premium quote of $94/year for $10,000 in coverage. They need an appraisal on all items $2,500 or more, but they don’t require a listing of all of my serial numbers.
Initial thought: That could be worse. The coverage is more expensive than State Farm. No listing of items required, but if you have a lot of $2,500+ items, getting individual appraisals of gun values for each could be onerous (and expensive).
I’ve got a number of customers who own a lot more firearms than I do, so I asked a few of them who they use to insure them. I got a few names and some more leads.
One name I heard over and over was Collectibles Insurance Services. They quoted $100,000 in coverage with a premium of just under $750.
Compared with some other offerings – a $125 premium per $10,000 in coverage which seemed to be the best bet of the bunch…if you need that much coverage. Armscare Plus via Lockton was also right in that neighborhood if anyone is wondering.
I didn’t call this agency but Core-Vens Gun Insurance in Iowa had a compelling policy on their website; $100,000 in coverage for $350 – seemed like a bargain compared to everyone else.
I don’t own $100,000 worth of firearms, but I certainly have more than $10,000 worth. A premium of $75 for $10,000 in coverage versus $350 for $100,000 seems like a no-brainer if that covers what you have.
My little research project was eye-opening and something that I really should have done sooner. I’d always been of the opinion that my current coverage was enough, but I didn’t take into account all of the opportunistic gun buying I’ve done over the years and how much that’s filled up the back of my safe.
In addition to having a plan for firearms when you die, it’s a good idea to have a plan for your firearms while you’re still alive. If you happen to be one of the folks like Charlotte who keeps a firearm in their car, a small $75-100/year – either in a stand-alone policy or as as part of your renters or homeowners policy — is a good idea.
That’s not an unreasonable price for a lot of peace of mind for firearms owners.
Do you have firearms insurance? If so, who covers you? What was your experience like finding coverage, getting appraisals and making claims (if you’ve had to)?