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Keven Moore on Insurance: What you should know about gun ownership and insurance

As I sat comfortably in our family board room (converted living room office) last Saturday morning drinking coffee with my wife and discussing family issues and grateful to have survived the Mayan end of the world prediction, a text came in from my good buddy and Army veteran Mike Hall inviting me to attend the local gun show down at Heritage Hall in Rupp Arena. Within 25 minutes I was out the door only to find myself standing outside in a 20-minute line with money in hand trying to get in.

(Photo from Keven Moore)

Amazed with the large turnout, I overheard one gun enthusiast call our much-anticipated entry an Obama rally while hordes of people with guns passed to and from. It was then that I realized that I was standing right dab in the middle of the Kentucky’s 21st century militia.

As a loss control and safety professional in the insurance industry, I immediately started to wonder if I was any safer to be in such company and started to calculate the odds as we passed another line of people checking in their firearms prior to entering the show. It had been several years since I had purchased a firearm, but I was bent on finding an additional self-defensive pistol, to go along with my dusty old 38 Special that has sat comfortably all alone in a pistol safe next to my bed, untouched for most of the past 20 years.

While the national gun control debate rages, and as our elected leaders begin the dialogue, one fact is clear — there has been a massive increase in gun sales. It was clearly obvious that day, as I too wondered around the gun show all juiced up and caught up in the frenzy looking for my belated Christmas gift.

Such an increase in firearm sales is unprecedented, according to the FBI as they recorded 2.78 million background checks this past December, surpassing the mark set in November of 2.01 million checks – about a 39 percent rise. The latest monthly figure was up 49 percent over December 2011, when the FBI performed a then-record 1.86 million checks.

These figures do not represent the number of firearms sold, a statistic the government does not track. They also do not reflect activity between private parties, such as family members or collectors, because federal law requires background checks only for sales from commercial vendors with a federal license.

FBI checks for all of 2012 totaled 19.6 million, an annual record and an increase of 19 percent over 2011. With no additional elections to worry about, President Obama now tries to tackle the highly debated issue of gun control and it looks like he better come with both barrels. But such actions have stirred a very deep phobia among many Americans, resulting in this record numbers of gun sales that will continue to rise to higher records into 2013, adding more guns into our populations.

Additional proof of such sales increases came from Sturm, Ruger & Co., a gun manufacturer that is temporarily suspending its acceptance of new firearms orders due to a barrage of wholesale orders — more than 1 million in 2012 alone. This massive push “exceeds our capacity to rapidly fulfill these orders,” the Connecticut company said in a news release, adding that it expects to resume normal operations by the end of May.

As I wondered around from booth to booth observing all these members of the Kentucky militia, it dawned on me that these weren’t your good old boy Kentucky rednecks that I was mingling around with, as I bumped into several friends, neighbors and colleagues. These were local businessmen, insurance salesmen, doctors, attorneys, pastors, teachers, engineers, police officers and yes safety professionals.

What was even more surprising was the number of women that were toting guns and shopping for new ones as I was quickly reminded of Cathi Harman an elementary school teacher, friend and ex-coworker of mine from my Bank of Lexington days in the 1980s during college. She just recently purchased a pistol and is now a proud owner of a carry conceal permit obtained several weeks before the Newton, Conn., school shooting. Cathi is the most unassuming and sweetest person you will ever meet. Her passion is kids and teaching them, you would never suspect that she is carrying a pistol while off school campus. But she is your typical new gun owner these days and just as with Texas, you better not mess with her.

Women are putting a premium on personal safety, and according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, gun-store owners are reporting a 73 percent increase in female customers in recent years, and the number of women buying guns exclusively for personal defense has soared by more than 83 percent.

According to recent Gallop polls reference in the Washington Post, after years of declining household gun ownership, something interesting happened in 2011. Gun ownership spiked to its highest level since 1994 — 47 percent, well before the two most recent publicized mass shootings. According to the Gallup poll, people who suddenly acquired more guns aren’t just your average white Southern Republican voting males, but instead they include owners from the East and Midwest, Democrats and women.

Politics aside, such information should serve as evidence that guns are not a Red State and Blue State issue. Gun owners in America are actually pretty diverse — and quite possibly more diverse than they have been in recent decades. An additional website called the Democratic Underground estimates that 25 million registered voting Democrats are gun owners, which represent about 35 percent of all gun owners. I bet that’s a shock to some, as it was for me.

How does this relate to insurance? No matter your reasons for buying firearms, your sex or your political affiliation, if you are a gun owner and want to secure home or renter’s insurance, then there are a few things you should know:

• You should disclose to your insurer that you have firearms, even if your policy is already issued. If you choose not to disclose this to your insurance company, you could someday possibly run the risk of having your policy rescinded if they were to ever find out, given the direction the current gun-control climate is heading. Guns add additional risks that must be reviewed and calculated when determining an accurate home insurance rate and you want them scheduled on the policy in the event of a loss.

• If you are a renter or live in a condo or townhouse, make sure that you aren’t violating your lease or association rules by having guns onsite.

• To acquire a competitive home insurance rate, you should have a gun safe or gun locks to safely secure them. Insurance companies prefer gun owners who make sure firearms stay out of the hands of children and other untrained individuals.

• If you are a gun owner you should consider investing in a excess personal liability policy because one of the biggest risks with insuring gun owners is in facing wrongful death suits due to accidental gun usage. Your policy may even limit gun-related liabilities more aggressively than general home insurance liability coverage, so be sure to understand your coverage.

• You may have separate limits for damage or theft on your current policy because guns can be an expensive to collect. It’s possible that your home insurance policy will limit the replacement coverage for guns that are damaged or stolen, although some policies may limit this coverage only in the event of theft.

• It’s not impossible for a gun owner to secure affordable insurance coverage. In fact, some insurers are more accommodating of gun owners than others, so you should shop around. When you work with an independent insurance agency, you gain the benefit of the agent’s ability to search for premiums from multiple companies and find the one that will best fit your need as a homeowner/gun owner.

As for me and my shopping trip, since Santa was not allowed to transport firearms across state lines for fear of risking being placed on the “No Fly List,” I did successfully find my own Christmas gift later that day at a local gun shop down the road. With such a purchase comes great responsibility — one that will not be taken lightly.

Be safe, my friends.

Keven Moore is director of Risk Management Services for Roeding Insurance (www.roedinginsurance.com). He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both the Lexington and Northern Kentucky offices. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com.

Click here to read more columns from Keven Moore.

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