Best Practices for Valuing
Firearms and Ammo
By Chad Horlbogen
It’s a fact — not only does the United States have a lot of people, they own a lot of guns. With over 310 million guns in circulation (as of 2009), legal
and otherwise, America is number one
in the world in per capita firearm ownership. GunPolicy.org estimates that 47
percent of Americans own a gun.
This widespread proliferation of firearms has definite ramifications in the
world of insurance. If you work for an
insurance provider in America, it’s not a
question of if you will see guns in insurance claims, but how often.
According to Enservio’s data, ten percent of the $2 billion in annual claims
processed by the company contain guns.
Additionally, the data shows the value of
guns and accessories are typically overstated by 16 to 40 percent. A common
perception held by gun owners is that
their guns are worth more than what
they paid for them and in many cases,
more than retail value. Many people believe that all guns appreciate in value.
This is probably due to the fact that they
are constructed out of solid, lasting materials and not just anyone can buy a gun
off the shelf.
Despite the number of gun owners, the
frequency of guns in insurance claims
will often differ from state to state. State
laws on the regulation of guns vary widely
since some states have more restrictive licensing and permitting rules than others.
States with the most lenient gun ownership policies include Alaska, Arizona,
Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.
Insurers operating in any of these states
should expect to see more firearm claims.
While there are dozens of gun manu-
facturers in the U.S., three brands com-
prise 40 percent of the industry: Ruger,
Remington, and Smith & Wesson. Al-
though Smith & Wesson is the brand
name most associated with firearms, Ru-
ger became the number one manufactur-
er of handguns from 2009 to 2012.
Both the Glock handgun and the Ruger
10/22 Rimfire rifle are extremely popular.
Glock handguns are reliable, rarely fail
and are affordable so they are one of the
most popular handguns in the market.
The Ruger 10/22 is one of the best made
small rifles in the industry and has been
made almost exactly the same way since
its introduction in 1964 and is still considered the standard for . 22 caliber rifles.
Gun-owning policyholders need to inform their agent about the guns they own
when they purchase their policy. Many
gun owners may be interested in having
additional insurance coverage. This applies especially to owners who are collectors or have a large number of weapons.
Three Basic Gun Safety Rules
One can never talk enough about safety
when it comes to firearms. There are
three widely accepted rules for gun safety. When handling a gun, abide by these
common sense guidelines:
Rule 1: Before handling any gun, assume it is loaded.
A better way to remember this is, “
Every gun is always loaded.” Treat them as
Rule 2: Determine if the gun is actually
If you’re comfortable enough with the
mechanics of a gun, you may check it
yourself and unload it. When doing so,
keep rule #1 in mind and treat the gun as
if it were loaded.
If you are not familiar with the mechanics of a gun, speak to the gun owner
or someone on-site who may be familiar
with guns to verify if the gun is loaded. If
it is loaded, have the gun owner unload it.
Rule 3: Always point firearms in a safe
Never ever point a gun in the direction of something you are unwilling to
destroy. Guns are lethal weapons and you
must respect their power at all times in all
Holster a Gun Inspection Kit
With these safety tips firmly in mind, a
basic firearm inspection kit should in-
clude a tape measure, a soft cloth, and
a quality oil such as Rem oil. Always be
careful when cleaning a gun to see the in-
formation printed on it. Never use wire
brushes or steel wool to clean a gun as
these can cause irreparable damage.
Fortunately for insurance inspec-
tors, the most important information
you need to collect on a gun is usually
stamped right on it. This includes infor-
mation such as the manufacturer, model
number and caliber. Serial numbers are
important to record but are used more to
identify ownership and authenticity.
Every gun has a particular make and
model. A certain firearm can have mul-
tiple varieties — for example, a Mossberg
500 has 20-30 variations. The best way to
alleviate confusion is to get a receipt for
the weapon whenever possible. Receipts
often contain the model number or the
part number which can be used to prop-
erly identify the weapon. In all cases, take
State laws on the
regulation of guns vary
widely since some states
have more restrictive
licensing and permitting
rules than others.