Is Insurance for Gun Owners Becoming Harder to Get?
In the weeks following the mass shooting in Florida, the insurance climate for gun owners is changing quickly as more and more companies are cutting off ties with pro-gun entities. Recently, the two primary brokers for insurance policies that cover National Rifle Association (NRA) members — Chubb and Lockton Affinity — ended their coverage of those sued over shootings — and in doing so, dismantled their partnership with the NRA.
Though Chubb claims that its decision to end the NRA Carry Guard insurance program was disclosed more three months ago, Lockton Affinity may have bent to increased pressure from gun-control advocates. In light of these events, many are wondering what the future looks like for insurance and gun ownership.
What type of insurance is available to gun owners?
Though guns are generally covered under homeowners, renters, and auto insurance policies for loss, damage, or theft, coverage amounts and scope are limited. For instance, a standard homeowners policy typically provides up to $2,500 for loss, but there are generally exclusions for certain perils (causes of loss). To provide gun owners with additional coverage that is more comprehensive, an insured with a concealed carry permit is best protected by obtaining a policy designed for such exposures.
The type of coverage most gun owners seek to supplement their existing personal property insurance is called concealed carry insurance – also called self-defense insurance, firearm protection insurance and stand your ground coverage. Though the list of agencies that sell concealed carry insurance is endless, the bulk of policies are underwritten by a select few – which is why Chubb’s and Lockton Affinity’s decisions to pull out of their NRA’s partnership is sending a big signal to the gun insurance world.
Concealed carry offers more coverage
There are four main self-defense insurance organizations — United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network (ACLDN), U.S. Law Shield, and NRA Carry Guard — that offer plans for armed citizens.
Concealed carry insurance includes coverage for self-defense shootings, negligent discharge, use of deadly force, personal firearm use, civil defense, criminal defense, defense attorney retainers, bodily injury and property damage expenses, and lost wages.
According to Concealed Nation, in addition to coverage for these items, policy must-haves include initial bail bond, initial attorney retainer fees, and coverage across state lines – or they advise not purchasing the policy.
As with most insurance policies, gun insurance advocates advise gun owners to shop around, make sure the policy fits your specific situation, and read the fine print.
Should liability insurance be mandatory?
The argument over whether or not insurance for guns should be made mandatory will significantly impact the future of gun insurance. Unlike auto insurance, which is mandatory, those who exercise their Second Amendment rights currently have the option of purchasing concealed carry insurance or going without it.
By the end of 2017, several states including New York, Hawaii, Washington, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, introduced mandatory gun insurance legislation using reasoning similar to the 2015 measure introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, New York Democrat.
Most of the bills include a steep proposed fine, with amounts varying from state to state, for having no insurance.
Those in favor of mandatory insurance maintain the goal is to protect both homeowners and society from the misuse of firearms. Arguments include:
- It would result in a reduction in gun crimes similar to how mandatory auto insurance has reduced automobile fatalities by 25 percent in the last decade due to incentives to reduce accidents.
- It would provide coverage for a gun that is lost, stolen, or used by a third party.
- It would protect innocent gun owners by covering legal fees.
- There would be no impact to an individual’s ability to purchase a gun since the insurance company does not make that decision.
Those against mandatory requirements argue:
- It is not comparable to auto insurance since gun ownership is a constitutional right not a privilege like driving; additionally, you don’t need a license to own a car; just to drive it.
- Criminals won’t buy insurance — and even if they did, acts of crime are excluded anyway.
- The cost of premiums will discriminate against the poor.
- It will embolden people to shoot, making it “murder insurance”
More than any other mass shooting in history, the Parkland shooting has stirred an unprecedented amount of controversy and activism that shows no sign of leveling off anytime soon.
And while nobody can predict how this critical national debate will play out, there is one thing for certain: Up to one third of people in the United States (according to Pew Research) may be in need of gun insurance.