Insurable Tragedies?

Tragedies can occur at any time or place. Tragedies have occurred at homes, businesses, churches and schools. Over the past several years, Americans have been living in fear due to the significant amount of tragedies and shootings that have occurred, such as the events at Columbine High School, Virginia Tech University and Sandy Hook Elementary. In the aftermath, survivors have to live in shock and fear due to the memory of such tragic incidents.

Who is responsible? Shootings have both human and financial consequences, and lawyers are brought in to hold someone financially accountable. These violent acts do have one thing in common, and that is that many have been performed by children! The first source for financial relief is through insurance policies. In such instances, would the parents’ homeowner policies respond to lawsuits over the actions of minors who injure or kill their schoolmates? Well, it depends.

Section I of a homeowner policy protects the policy holder’s property, such as the home, garage, storage sheds, household furnishings and even the increased living expenses created by the loss of use of such property. Section II provides coverage against the policyholder’s legal responsibility for injuring other persons or damaging their property. While the shootings certainly involve substantial injuries and property damage, homeowner policies may NOT provide coverage.

The question is, will a homeowner policy pay for the financial consequences of a person shooting someone else? There may be coverage if the shooting involved a person defending himself or protecting another person. It also may pay if a person was practicing on a gun range and a shot ricochets and injures another. Coverage may be provided if one person aims directly at another and fires a weapon, but that person holding the weapon is lets say….. a toddler!

Acts involving both guns and persons who are 13 years of age or older are excluded from coverage under a homeowner policy. Why is this? Persons of this age should be able to understand the extreme danger represented by gun use. In most instances, the choice of using weapons against other persons are rarely considered accidental and is  to be the full responsibility of the person holding the weapon!

Instances where a homeowner policy may be required to pay for such losses, including instances where a parent may be held indirectly responsible for the actions of a child, a court may interpret a policy as being applicable to a shooting, or the shooter may be found to be too young, mentally impaired or unable to understand the nature of his or her actions.

If you have any questions about your existing policy, are inquiring information about a possible future policy or need further information, please call us at (631) 738-7300 or get a quick quote at

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