Three out of four Americans believe gun owners should be required to have firearm liability insurance.
Those are the numbers out of a new ValuePenguin survey of 1,995 people ages 18 to 77 exploring attitudes about the role insurance could play in reducing gun violence.
While some may say that it isn’t the insurance industry’s place to get involved in the country’s ongoing debate on gun control, insurance has long been an instigator and standard bearer when it comes to incentivizing and implementing safety measures that protect people and property.
Insurance drives safety
Insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who buy vehicles with safety features and homeowners who install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, for example. To encourage safer gun ownership practices, insurers could give discounts to gun owners who show that they have purchased gun safes and implemented other gun safety measures, even in jurisdictions that don’t require them.
And those in the survey recognized the parallels, stating support for liability insurance on guns (75 percent) in the same league as support for liability insurance on homes (72 percent) or cars (84 percent).
Currently, most insurers don’t require disclosure of gun ownership, said ValuePenguin. Mandating gun insurance could change this and prompt insurance companies to require policyholders to declare gun ownership and perform checks for firearms, including those purchased from private dealers or gun shows.
Gun insurance coverage and costs
How much liability coverage should a gun owner carry? Between $50,000 and $250,000, said 77 percent of those surveyed, with 7 percent calling for $1 million or more. The majority of those in favor of the coverage (44 percent) think separate policies should be required for each weapon. In comparison, 31 percent say a single policy per owner would be enough.
However, more than half of those surveyed (56 percent) did not know that homeowners insurance offers some coverage for guns. Most standard policies already cover theft or a firearms-related accident up to the policyholder’s personal property coverage and liability coverage limits. Policyholders can elect to pay for more personal property coverage or liability coverage, bearing in mind that insurance won’t cover them if they are charged with using a gun to commit a crime or accidentally shoot a household member. Those whose guns are used in crimes could face higher insurance costs when obtaining another firearm.
Who should be liable for gun-related violence?
When a gun is used, the overwhelming majority (82 percent) of those polled said gun owners should be held liable, even if they didn’t pull the trigger, placing increased responsibility on gun owners to maintain and restrict access to weapons.
Gun owners should be held criminally liable, said 39 percent of respondents – a sentiment highest among parents with underage children (45 percent) – while 15 percent say they should be subject to civil liability and 28 percent say they should be held liable for both.
Survey says: Americans support firearm restrictions
The study indicates that 95 percent of Americans support some form of restriction on firearm access. The most supported restrictions center around mental health (73 percent), criminal history (70 percent) and age (60 percent).
Almost half of those who’ve never owned a gun (47 percent) are more likely to say firearm permits should be mandatory, while less than a third (31 percent) of those who currently own a gun support mandatory permits. Non-gun owners were also more supportive of requiring gun owners to have proof of liability insurance and safe storage.
ValuePenguin commissioned Qualtrics to administer the March 2023 online survey, which used a non-probability-based sample and quotas to ensure the sample base represented the overall population.