Across the country, thousands of responsibly armed Americans are asking smart questions about concealed carry insurance…
- “What is concealed carry insurance?”
- “How does concealed carry insurance work?”
- “Can I be sued if I use my concealed carry weapon in self-defense?”
- “Am I required to carry liability insurance for my concealed carry gun like I am for my car?”
- “Does CCW insurance cover me if someone steals my gun?”
- “Does my homeowner’s or renter’s insurance cover me if I have to defend my home?”
- “Is there a better option to protect myself, my family and my livelihood from liability in the event of a self-defense incident?”
“What is Concealed Carry Insurance?”
Concealed carry insurance is a relatively new concept, bred from the rising number of registered concealed carry permit holders throughout the United States. In the most basic of terms, concealed carry insurance (and in a broader sense, self-defense insurance) provides legal protection benefits to the holder should he or she ever have to rely on the use of force in response to a self-defense or home-defense incident.
The insurance typically provides coverage for your legal representation and defense in the event that you’re subject to a criminal investigation — which is common following a self-defense incident. Such policies may also provide coverage for your defense in ivil court proceedings stemming from the self-defense act. It is a sad fact that even following a case in which no criminal liability was found the surviving family of the “bad guy” may sue for damages in civil court. And sometimes they win!
Difficulties arising from a self-defense action may include…
- Police investigation (during which the actor could be held in custody)
- Confiscation of the weapon
- Missed school/work
- Lawyer retainer fees
- Bail bonds
- Court appearances
- Possible conviction and sentencing
- Potential civil liability for pain, suffering and other damages
“How Does Concealed Carry Insurance Work?”
As with other forms of insurance, policies covering acts of self-defense vary by provider and by the level of protection chosen by each policy-holder. Companies may provide funds for legal defense up-front, or compensate policy-holders only after the case has been settled. Still others do not offer financial assistance at all, instead providing access to a network of on-call lawyers who specialize in self-defense or firearms litigation.
Users would be wise to consult an attorney and to research the concealed carry, home-defense and firearms laws of their home state and municipality. It also pays to read the fine print for benefits as well as exclusions and compare companies before deciding on a concealed carry insurance provider.
Major considerations when choosing a concealed carry insurance company should include…
- Criminal defense assistance
- Civil defense assistance
- Up-front or deferred compensation
- Exclusions and disqualifications
- Deductibles or caps on coverage
- Customer service availability
- The option to choose your own lawyer versus drawing from a pool
- Coverage for accidents/negligence
- Coast-to-coast coverage
Providers of self-defense coverage offer different levels of service and methods of operation. Those may include…
- Group Legal Funds — In which the premiums paid by subscribers are not backed by an insurance company but are instead pooled to compensate a closed network of preferred lawyers who are then assigned to the case.
- Insurance-Backed Coverage — These policies are underwritten by companies with the deep financial pockets necessary to fulfill claims. Just as with other forms of insurance, premiums are a bet against ever having to need the coverage.
- Membership-Based Enrollment — These organizations offer legal and financial protection, among other exclusive member-only benefits.
Because not all self-defense encounters involve concealed carry or home-defense firearms, self-defense insurance policies may cover other legal weapons — from hands, knives and OC spray to weapons of opportunity such as umbrellas, bricks or frying pans.
“Can I be sued if I use my concealed carry weapon in self-defense?”
Absolutely. Even if no criminal malfeasance is found, the aggressor or his surviving family may seek compensation in a civil court. Famously, Bernhard Goetz, who shot four Bronx teens in what was deemed to be self-defense on a NYC subway, was cleared on charges of assault, attempted homicide and reckless endangerment (he did go to jail for carrying an unregistered firearm). Years later, one of the men Goetz shot successfully sued him for $43 million.
“Am I required to carry liability insurance for my concealed carry gun like I am for my car?”
No. At the moment, there are no states in the United States which require gun owners to carry liability insurance for their guns. This is often speculated upon as a potential future requirement by gun-control advocates.
“Does CCW insurance cover me if someone steals my gun?”
While the specifics of each provider’s policies vary, concealed-carry insurance generally focuses on protecting the bearer from legal action in the event of a self-defense incident. Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies may count firearms as personal property for the sake of claiming loss during a burglary or accident. Make sure to record make, model and serial number of all firearms and other valuables, and keep them stored in a safe place in case of emergency.
“Does my homeowner’s or renter’s insurance cover me if I have to defend my home?”
You should consult your agent or insurance carrier regarding whether your auto, homeowners, or umbrella liability insurance policies provide coverage for acts of self-defense. You may be surprised by what you learn — you may not have coverage. Bankrate.com recommends checking policies for a “wrongful acts” clause as well as any mention of home-defense, self-defense or reasonable force.