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Gun insurance – are your guns covered? Should they be?

Graham Downing answers a reader's question about whether his household insurance will cover his guns. And what about separate gun insurance in case of breakages?

From across the globe, intrepid shooters catch Highland fever and travel to enjoy some of the best stalking there is, says Thomas Nissen

Q: Can I insure my guns under my car insurance when I am travelling with them? (Read more on travelling with guns here.)

A: Most gun owners utilise cover provided by their household insurance policies to insure their guns against risks such as damage or theft. Household policies will often have a schedule of specified items covered for ‘all risks’ while the items are away from the named property. Sporting equipment can usually be included on such a schedule and insuring your guns in this way would provide cover for damage while travelling or when the guns are in use. Discuss the matter with your household insurance provider or your broker.

Gun insurance – do you really need it?

Robin Scott, former Sporting Gun editor-at-large and Steve Nuttall of Border Fieldsports discuss the pros and cons of gun insurance. Should you even get gun insurance?

No, says Robin Scott. It would be worth splashing the cash each year if I had a gun that was eye-wateringly expensive or rare. I don’t. My English guns are nicely made and lovely to use but they’re not front-row specimens and don’t do a great amount of work. That’s left to machine-made over-and-unders, spare parts for which are readily available, easy to fit and affordable.

In more than 40 years’ continuous use the only replacements needed have been a set or two of new strikers, coil springs and a top lever spring. The most expensive repair to one of the side-by-sides was having a cross-pin fitted to get it back on face. I didn’t lose sleep over the bill or wish the replacement had been covered under my household insurance policy.

Sod’s Law says that as soon as I finish writing this I will step outside with the sidelock ejector, trip, and snap the stock at the hand. It’s a risk I’m prepared to take – I’ve been ‘chancing’ it for years. I’ve had that gun 30 years and reckon the total spent over that time in premiums would amount to more than I paid for it.

As for the woodwork on two of the over-and-unders, I hedged my bets quite some time back with secondhand stocks and fore-ends bought at auction for a song. The best insurance policy is to clean a gun properly and have it serviced every couple of years – sooner if it’s used heavily. In other words, avoid costly neglect.

Find a policy that suits your needs

Yes, says Steve Nuttall of Border Fieldsports. If you own a valuable gun or rifle it should be covered. Quality stocks, fore-ends, barrels, scopes and bolts are expensive to replace or repair. Even best-made English sidelocks break down and a broken mainspring could land you with a bill running into several hundred pounds.

It is hard to find a policy that exactly suits your needs. Many companies advertising in shooting magazines doubtless sell bona fide policies but always read the small print carefully and only settle for a policy that covers all gun parts and eventualities.

For instance, if you shoot a pair of guns make sure the policy extends to both of them – if you break a stock on a matched pair both will need changing. The same goes for damascus barrels. A set of replacement steel barrels for one damaged gun might be all well and good but unless the other gun is done, too, they are no longer a matched pair, which will affect their value.

Top-end firearm insurers load the premium for ‘extras’ of this kind, so shop around for the best quote. Make a list of the cover you require so nothing is missed.

Theft, breakages and damage caused at home, in the field or while being transported should be factored in. Find out what they will pay for and what they won’t.

Most home contents insurers do cover specified sporting items and this is probably the best route to follow if your guns are not Bests. Even so, check exactly what is and isn’t covered before signing up.