Guns, Homeowners, and Insurance

When it comes to insuring firearms, Homeowners coverage offers some clear guidelines. We understand gun control remains a controversial issue, but we are here to help.

If you have rifles and pistols in your home, your policy will insure them against fire damage or theft, usually up to $2,500. Although a Homeowners application might not ask specifically about firearms, the higher liability risk that guns present means that failing to inform your agent or insurance company in advance about them could result in denial of a claim for loss or damage to them.

Because of this greater liability exposure, your insurer might require you to show that you’ve taken such sensible precautions as installing trigger locks, securing firearms properly in locked gun cases, and keeping them away from children. If you have a collection of guns that’s particularly valuable (for example, antique sidearms), you might need to buy a policy rider that ensures their replacement or reimbursement — much as with other big-ticket items, such as jewelry and fine art.

If you shoot someone else or yourself accidentally while in the home, your policy might pay for some or all of the damages, (medical bills, property damage, liability claims, and so forth), depending on the amount of coverage. However, to guarantee full protection, you would need additional policy riders, such as “Sporting Firearm insurance,” “Collector’s Firearm insurance,” or “Gun Club Liability insurance.”

To learn more about firearms coverage in your home, please give your Protection Coach a call 877-994-6787.

Splitting Up? Kids, Custody and Insurance

Tough topic but divorce is a fact of life.

If you should find yourself needing to divvy up assets and liabilities during a divorce settlement, you’ll have to consider insurance coverage for your kids.

Determining how to deal with your teen’s auto insurance can create problems because there’s no set formula. The decision should be something that’s negotiated between both parents. If Mom has sole custody, the teen driver should be on her policy. However, if Mom and Dad share custody, both should include the teen under their coverage.

The premium you pay for your teen’s auto insurance will depend on where you live. When setting rates, insurance companies look at the claims history in the locale where the car is garaged. Premiums vary from city to city, and even among ZIP codes in the same city. So, if you’re moving from a rural to an urban area or from a low-crime neighborhood in a city to one where there are more vehicle thefts and auto burglaries, your premiums will increase.

Homeowner insurance is linked to ownership of the property and who is listed on the mortgage. If the home is in both parents’ names, coverage would also be under both names. In this case, you should have a written agreement dividing responsibly for mortgage and insurance payments.

If you move from the family home into an apartment, you’ll need renters insurance to cover your belongings, as well as your children’s personal items and additional liability protection – even if you’re still named on the homeowners policy.

To receive expert advice from our agency’s personal lines specialists during this difficult period, free of charge, please feel free to give us a call. (877)994-6787

Whose Insurance Covers the Kids When Parents Live in Separate Households?

Michael and Maureen divorced after 18 years of marriage and agreed to joint custody of their three children. Their 11 year-old son Mikey is riding his bike one afternoon with some friends and not paying full attention to the road in front of him. A five year-old child chasing a ball runs into the road and Mikey strikes her with his bike, causing her to fall and break her arm. The child’s furious parents sue both Michael and Maureen for compensation for her injuries and trauma.

Not long after, their 16 year-old son Mark gets his drivers license. One evening while driving home, he swerves to avoid a deer in the road, loses control, and plows into two parked cars. Both cars are relatively new; the repair bills come to thousands of dollars.

Because Michael and Maureen now have separate households, they each have their own Auto and Homeowners insurance policies. Are both parents responsible for the children’s actions? Is only the parent who had custody at the time of the accident responsible? And whose insurance pays for the damages? Will either policy pay? With the increasing prevalence of two-household families and blended families, the question of which parent (and, therefore, which insurance policy) is responsible for a child’s actions has become more common. The answer is not always clear.

A standard Homeowners policy covers the people named on it (the named insureds); household residents who are either relatives of the named insureds or under age 21 and in the care of a named insured or relative; and full-time college students who are either relatives of the named insureds and under age 24 or others in the care of a household resident and under age 21. A standard Auto policy covers the named insureds and “family members” (residents of the household related to the named insureds by blood, marriage, or adoption, including ward or foster children.) Michael and Maureen have joint custody of their children. In which parent’s household are the children residents?

State laws and courts have answered this question in a variety of ways. For example, states such as New York have established “dual residency”; that is, a person can be a legal resident of multiple households at the same time. However, other states such as Montana have laws prohibiting dual residency. Some courts start with the custody awarded in the divorce decree but also consider how the parents are actually handling custody. A New Jersey court found that a child had dual residency, despite the mother having legal custody, because both parents had actual custody at different times. The judge ruled that both parents’ Homeowners policies applied to the child.

Other states have ruled that no one factor determines residency; a court must look at multiple factors. A Georgia court devised an approach that measures custody time and focuses on whether there is in fact more than one household. New Jersey courts look at both measurable factors and qualitative factors, such as whether people in the household function together as family members.

If Michael and Maureen live in a dual residency state, both their Homeowners and Auto policies might cover the accidents their children have. Policy terms explain how they share loss payments for these incidents. In other states, the solution might be more complicated. A court may weigh several factors and assign residency to only one of the households, requiring one parent’s insurance to pay for the loss. Since the outcome in these situations is uncertain, the best thing for divorced parents to do is to make sure they have plenty of insurance provided by financially strong companies.

Check with one of our licensed insurance protection coaches often to find out what coverage you have and need. Call 877-994-6787 or 951-600-5751, we’re here to ensure that you have exactly the coverage you need.