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Gun-Rights Bloggers Up in Arms Over Travelers' Decision to Drop Coverage on Insured Who Owned an Assault Rifle

Source: The Hartford Courant

Posted on 17 Feb 2011

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Travelers in 2008 apparently dropped a homeowner's policy because the policyholder owned an "assault rifle," and now gun-rights bloggers have taken to targeting the insurer.

One of the blogs shows a letter Travelers sent to a homeowner on July 22, 2008, which says, "Our reason for non-renewing your policy is due to the substantial change in your risk since the policy was first issued as described below: There are assault rifles at the insured location."

Travelers declined to comment about the specific case mentioned in the blogs because the company keeps private its dealings with customers. The New York-based property-casualty insurer that employs thousands in Connecticut does insure guns from theft. But the company would not say if owning certain types of rifles and handguns is a risk that Travelers considers uninsurable.

"Every individual is evaluated on the particular risks," said Travelers spokesman Matt Bordonaro.

In general, owning guns doesn't prevent a person from buying homeowner's insurance. Theft of rifles or pistols is covered by a homeowner's policy.

"A standard homeowner's policy typically covers theft of guns up to certain limits, and there are additional endorsements that can be added for collectors looking to insure pieces over a certain value," Bordonaro said. "So, it's best that those looking for coverage beyond a standard policy to check with their agent or insurance provider to understand how to best cover their collection."

If you have a collection of rifles and pistols stolen in a theft, most property-casualty insurers will pay a limit of $2,500 under homeowner's insurance, said Mike Barry of the Insurance Information Institute.

"Homeowner's insurance is generally available to homeowners who legally keep guns on their properties, although it is fair to say the on-premises presence of an assault weapon likely isn't built into the standard homeowner's policy issued by most insurers," Barry said.

It's not clear which type of guns would be considered "assault weapons." Barry said a person who has an AR-15, for example, should tell their insurer "so all parties are aware of, and can discuss, the potential risks." People who have additional liability insurance should talk about the guns with that insurer, too, he said.

Insurers may be willing to offer coverage at standard rates if the gun owner is willing to take precautions specified by the insurer, Barry said.