Recently a customer asked me to do a gun collection appraisal for insurance purposes. This is something that has probably crossed your mind, but like buying a safe it is often the last thing that gets done. However, it should be a priority for you because guns fall into a special category that may leave you unprotected in the event of a loss or theft.
Guns are similar to other special insured items like jewelry in that they are generally not covered in their entirety by your regular homeowners/renters insurance policy. Most insurance companies have a cap that is well below the number you need for protection. For instance, my homeowners policy will only cover $2,000 without a special rider placed on the policy. Additionally it will only pay up to $1,000 for an individual firearm. This means that in my specific case the policy will only cover about 4 guns in the average collection. If you have a Browning O/U shotgun, you will not get but $1,000 for it even though it is worth far more. Have a Colt SAA Army? Forget about it. You will never see the money needed to replace the gun.
This is where a written appraisal comes in to play. Most insurance companies will require a written appraisal when they do the rider. Appraisals can be done by any gun shop using Gunbroker.com, Gusnamerica.com and the blue book of gun values. The main thing you need to talk to your agent about is whether the rider is for value or replacement value because the two sometimes differ.
For instance if you had a 1911 built by a local gunsmith, the value may actually be less than the replacement value. This might also be true of engraved guns, or special builds that you have in the collection. It can take a while for you to see a return on investment with some guns, but to replace them would cost more.
While we are primarily talking about insurance, one other benefit of the appraisal should be mentioned. The appraisal will serve your family well in the event of your untimely death. Having an appraisal done every five years will allow your family to make wise decisions with the property you have left them. Many times family members are not familiar with firearm values. In this case, the appraisal is one more way to insure you collection.
One final thing to consider is that in addition to a pretty cool magazine, NRA membership offers $2,500 in Arms Care. This may suffice for many of you as you add in your homeowners policy. For $35 a year you get to protect your Constitutional right and your personal property. Not a bad combination.