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BANG, CRASH, BOOM! You live in a gated community in, let’s say, St. Louis, Missouri. You’re outside enjoying a Sunday family barbecue in the late afternoon, early evening. The crash is followed by a chant of sorts: “No justice, no peace!” This mantra is loudly repeated as a massive crowd approaches your residence. Your wife looks at you and she is scared. You’re scared too. Now's not the time to wish you had CCW insurance.
You run into your house and grab your AR-15. Your state allows the lethal force defense of an occupied structure. You come around to the front of your residence and notice a large group of young people. A few members of the crowd appear to be armed with rifles, but you cannot tell if they’re airsoft replicas or real firearms. The crowd is enraged. You and your wife call 9-1-1, only to hear a prerecorded message: “Due to a high volume of calls, emergency services is not available at this time.” Your 9-1-1 call follows weeks of unrest over racial and political divides. You’re not the type to get into heated arguments over politics, but you firmly believe in your Second Amendment rights. One thing is clear, you’re alone.
You raise your gun in the direction of the approaching crowd, hoping to deter them from entering your property and harming your family. The protestors have several cell phones recording the entire event. Luckily, the crowd eventually moves on and you don’t discharge your firearm to protect yourself. However, to your shock and horror, three days later, the police arrive on your doorstep asking you questions about your behavior. They mention endangerment and aggravated assault. All felonies.
Above: A concealed-carry permit won't protect you from liability after a shooting. You'll also need insurance.
Several days afterward, you’re charged with multiple felony offenses and put in jail awaiting a trial scheduled for 10 months later. Bail is $250,000 secured appearance bond.
Now what? What can a law-abiding American do to prevent being incarcerated following a violent encounter where deadly force is used or threatened? Let’s review some of the options available to the average citizen with CCW Insurance.
There are several types of general liability insurance available on the market. Examples of insurance are life, health, auto, homeowners, and even insurance on ATVs and motorcycles. But is there an CCW insurance policy in the event I use a firearm, or threaten use of a firearm, while defending myself? The answer: Yes.
Above: Even if you're inside your own home defending against an intruder, there's still a potential for civil or criminal liability, depending on your state's laws.
To simplify this concept, there are three types of general liability insurance: theft (my car was stolen); personal liability (I was sleepy and rear-ended the car in front of me); and self-defense and legal fees to avoid or defend against criminal prosecution.
The NRA offers Personal Firearms Liability Insurance. For about $200 a year, a person can purchase a policy directly from the NRA that adds $1,000,000 to any liability policy. This policy is tailor made for shooters, collectors, and hunters. Let’s review what’s generally covered for the average person and what a responsible person can do to supplement their standard coverage.
The NRA also offers self-defense / CCW insurance. This coverage protects a person from being charged with an alleged crime involving a firearm and self-defense. The coverage reimburses for cost of criminal defense representation. This means you pay out of pocket and submit a claim to be reimbursed for the cost of your lawyer following criminal charges.
Above: Some firearms-oriented insurance policies will pay out an immediate sum following an incident, rather than reimbursing you later. This can help you quickly get out of jail and hire a lawyer.
State Farm, Farmers, Allstate, and any insurance carrier that offers homeowners insurance will have a personal liability coverage associated with the policy. This portion of the policy, usually up to $100,000, covers the insured from a broad range of issues where someone might try to sue. This liability coverage usually has something to do with the home, like your tree falls over the fence and crushes the neighbor’s car, the neighbor kid falls out of the tree house in the backyard, etc. All of these examples have the home as the “scene.” But homeowner policies also cover dog bites and some firearms issues.
However, some homeowner policies don’t cover “intentional” acts. If I pull the trigger defending myself isn’t that “intentional?” Now, we’re starting to get into the gray area or the real reason we need CCW insurance in this complicated society. To keep the concept simple, “intentional” usually means premeditated; the law and exclusions vary from state to state. An example from one of my cases: wife shoots and kills husband, husband’s family sued to collect from insurance carrier. Insurance company said, “No, we are not paying because the act was intentional.” This might appear remote; however, these lawsuits are becoming routine, almost standard. In my example, husband had minor children from a previous marriage who were orphaned. Husband’s elderly mother was trying to get any money possible to assist with raising the children. These lawsuits are common, and protecting yourself is prudent by purchasing insurance policies designed to protect you from “evil” lawsuits.
Above: Nobody likes paying for insurance, but it'll be well worth the expenditure if there's someone you can call for financial help after a self-defense incident.
But watch out, some policies exclude any coverage related to any use of a firearm. The homeowner will receive coverage in the event a firearms collection is stolen (usually a very small amount, around $5,000 total for all firearms). Beyond this, some insurance companies will deny any claim related to the misuse of a firearm. It’s important to check with your insurance carrier to determine your policy coverage.
Want to protect yourself? Stop and reflect. We’re all busy. We all have better things to do with our time than get out the magnifying glass and read the fine print of our insurance policies. Spend one afternoon this coming month to make a call to your insurance carrier and find out the extent of your firearms coverage. If you appear annoying, say your nagging lawyer made you call.
First, investigate a personal liability umbrella policy (PLUP). Most PLUP’s add a million in coverage to all policies. So, $100,000 per person/$300,000 per occurrence liability coverage adds a million dollars in insurance coverage to your car, house, boat, RV, etc. The pricing of this policy is usually $350 to $1,000 per year, or $30 to $100 a month.
Above: The old adage still stands: better to have and not need, then need and not have. We're not all lawyers, and perfect plans and arguments can quickly fall apart in unfamiliar environments.
Even after obtaining a PLUP, you might want greater coverage. Let me rephrase, no one likes insurance. The idea behind insurance is the policy holder is hoping for coverage when a tragedy strikes, and the insurance carrier is hoping to never pay you a dime.
There are some exciting new trends in the form of CCW insurance designed exclusively for the firearms enthusiast in mind. The Armed Citizens' Defense Network will sell you a policy that’ll pay your attorney in the event you were charged with a crime following a self-defense encounter. While your insurance company is trying to decide if it has any exposure following a shooting, the Armed Citizens' Defense Network is actively trying to get you a lawyer and get you released from jail. This means you wouldn’t have to spend 10 months in jail awaiting trial to prove your self-defense case. This is similar to the NRA Self-Defense Insurance Policy except the Armed Citizens' Defense Network will immediately send you money for your attorney, instead of sending a bill seeking reimbursement.
To compare the two policies: With the NRA policy, you pay the money out-of-pocket, then later request reimbursement for your legal expenses. With the Armed Citizens' Defense Network, you’re paid $10,000 almost instantly to run out and hire your own lawyer. The key difference is obviously coming up with large sums of money fast following a disaster where you were charged with a crime — the NRA is a reimbursement model, whereas the Armed Citizens' Defense Network provides upfront coverage.
Above and Below: Consider taking shooting classes that cover use of force as it relates to your state's laws. This will help you know how to make the right call in the heat of the moment, and defend your actions later.
NRA Self-Defense Insurance has policies that begin at $165 annually for $100,000 in coverage. The policy tops out at $1,000,000 for $600 annually. This is competitive with the Armed Citizens' Defense Network.
In conclusion, there are three types of insurance:
The NRA offers the broadest spectrum of coverage — personal firearms liability insurance and/or CW insurance. The Armed Citizens' Defense Network has added coverage to begin almost instantaneously following a self-defense encounter where the police suspect the defender of committing a crime.
Now is the time to make sure you have adequate coverage in all three areas. If you someday use a firearm to defend yourself, you’ll have enough on your mind already — a panicked search for legal aid shouldn’t be on your list of post-incident tasks.
Jason Squires is an attorney in Arizona with over 21 years of defense experience. In his off time, he competes across the nation in three-gun competitions. In full disclosure, Jason Squires has purchased several of the insurance policies listed above.