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View Diary: Liability Insurance for Guns (361 comments)

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  •  Here is what I have been arguing: (35+ / 0-)

    Mandatory purchase of a liability insurance policy or homeowner/tenant policy rider covering that weapon, to ensure that substantial resources exist in the event of a finding of liability for misuse.  Lifetime care for one single victim can run into the millions of dollars, and rarely do such resources exist without liability insurance coverage. If the insurance is canceled for any reason, the weapon(s) are impounded until proof of insurance is produced.  If your weapon is stolen, the insurance must be maintained until the weapon is recovered by law enforcement.  If you sell a weapon and provide proof (i.e. the buyer’s NICS approval document) then you can have the weapon removed from your policy, or cancel the policy if you have no other covered weapons.

    I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

    by Wayward Wind on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:17:27 AM PST

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    •  I love this idea (31+ / 0-)

      Would add the idea of creation of a national gun victim's fund, to provide comprehensive care of victims and families.  The fund would be used when direct liability for individual cases could not be established or when direct liability claims are delayed (to be paid back by insurers in the latter case).  It should be funded either directly through gun liability policies, or by a tax on ammunition.

      Each gun owned should carry a separate rider on the policy, so costs mount for those with more than one gun.  This would mandate registration of individual guns, and methods to reliably identify them.

      Citizens United defeated by citizens, united.

      by Dallasdoc on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:38:27 AM PST

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      •  Wanna bet the NRA already has the insurance angle (5+ / 0-)

        covered?  Like AARP, they'd love to have the monody on that.

        Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

        by Smoh on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:03:23 AM PST

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      •  You will Make the NRA evenmore powerful (6+ / 0-)

        the law of unintended consequences-

        who provides the insurance?

        Did you know that at present there is one organization that already provides liability insurance to gun owners?  The NRA.

        The insurance covers legal costs if they shoot some one or are otherwise involved in a civil suit relating to their use of the firearm.  If you make insurance mandatory who do you think will be providing that insurance? At least initially my bet is that the gun shops who are selling the gun and insurance will go with who they know, the NRA.  You just created a huge, mandatory, profit center for the NRA.  If yo think they can influence Congress now wait till they have all that money fro selling mandated insurance to throw at lobbying congress critters.

        Demanding insurance at point of sale also does little to go after the 300 million guns already in circulation.  Every time a cop sees you with a gun he is now going to stop you and ask for license and insurance?  do you have to commit an offence first or can they just do a quick stop and frisk with our without consent (see throwing cigarettes out of windows car windows)?  if you are stopped for an insurance check on your gun can the cop then look for other things (get the sniffer dog)?  Fourth amendment rights come to mind.

        I think the mandatory liability insurance option has merit but there are a bunch of details that would need to be worked through the system, not least of which are the traditional States Rights aspect, Insurance is traditionally a State matter, are you going to federalize the insurance program?

        there is only one reality, republicans just forget at times

        by Bloke on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:07:32 AM PST

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        •  That's OK (28+ / 0-)

          If we had mandated gun insurance the NRA's focus as a provider would be on maximizing profit, and their focus would instantly shift from promoting complete deregulation of the gun market.  It wouldn't be in their interest to do so.  They could decide if they wanted to continue to offer policies covering legal costs -- those would be a separate charge from basic liability coverage.  Would a more sensible, moderate NRA be a bad thing, if they were making money off people being protected from gun violence?

          All guns will need to be insured, not just new purchases.  If gun owners don't have insurance, then the liability attaches to them personally.  Who wants to take that chance?  Idiots who don't buy insurance will be ruined if their guns harm somebody, and the national victims' fund would take care of those harmed.

          Insurance can be state-based, but there should be Federal standards and a national victims' fund.  States can't be permitted to have free rein in this matter -- state legislatures are too cheaply bought off.

          Citizens United defeated by citizens, united.

          by Dallasdoc on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:14:40 AM PST

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          •  How do you enforce the law? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KVoimakas, BachFan

            How do you enforce the insurance program? With car insurance it is relatively easy, every traffic stop has an insurance check, but you typically have to commit another offence (speeding, crossing the white line...) before the Cop can stop you and ask for insurance.

            And I think you are way over optimistic that the NRA will change policy because they sell insurance.  I see a lot of money going to the NRA in the form of premiums, how do you determine liability.  Your typical policy would state that there is no coverage if the shooting occurs during commission of a criminal act, by definition the majority of shootings are criminal acts.  One of the reasons that the MRA/ALEC "promote stand your ground" is to decriminalize the shooting.  The Sandy Hook event was a Criminal act and as such no insurance coverage would be provided, the possible exception would be an argument that it was a third party (the son) who stole the gun from the legitimate owner (the mother) and the claim would actually be against the original owner who had the gun stolen.

            I believe that the intent of the insurance program is to make purchase of a gun a little more difficult, and I am sure that underwriters would quickly work out that just like young men in sports cars, certain models and variants of gun and certain owners have higher claims ratios hence higher insurance premiums.  However, the outcome of a national insurance program for firearms is likely to be a different end point in urban NY compared to rural AL (pick your differing State and socioeconomic grouping)

            there is only one reality, republicans just forget at times

            by Bloke on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:31:25 AM PST

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            •  Why not have liability from criminal acts? (8+ / 0-)

              Gun violence is typically a criminal act, when it's not an accident.  Insurance would pay out if the policyholder committed a criminal act, so insurers would be disincentivized from writing policies for high-risk individuals.  Would they have guns anyway?  Probably, but that's why we need a backup victim's fund.  An insurance requirement would make guns a lot harder to get.  Gun sellers who sell guns to people who don't have proof of insurance would bear liability too, to make it harder for people who can't get insurance to get guns.  Stolen guns might incur liability if the guns were not adequately secured.  

              Requiring insurance for guns also requires a central registration system.  That provides the opportunity to check for insurance on registered guns annually, which can be done electronically.  People owning registered guns for which no insurance can be found could be required to submit proof of insurance or pay a heavy penalty, which could include forfeiture of uninsured guns at some point.

              The NRA can do as they please -- they do anyway.  To the extent they become an insurance business they will become more moderate in their stance -- they'll have no choice.  If they continue with marginal insurance lines, other insurers will take the market and act as a powerful counter to their extremist influence.

              Citizens United defeated by citizens, united.

              by Dallasdoc on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:42:09 AM PST

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              •  Most gun deaths are Suicide (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                KVoimakas, nellgwen, BlackSheep1

                Do you cover suicide? Use of ones own or some one else's weapon to kill ones self.  Is that covered? I don't think insurers would go for it, after all most life insurance policies have clauses that exclude suicide.

                Typically an insurer will tell you they want to cover accidental and unintended consequences, they will even cover rank stupidity as long as it was not a deliberate act.  Example:  a man welding a gas tank in the basement of his home unsurprisingly cases an explosion and fire that burns down the house, stupid yes but believe it or not probably covered by the insurance policy.  Pouring gasoline on the floor in the basement and putting a match too it is arson and a criminal act that is not covered by the insurance policy.

                Now translate that in to liability insurance for gun owners, if some one steals your gun and uses it to commit a crime liability insurance may cover the criminal act provided you took reasonable precautions to protect the weapon (and it can be traced back to you).  But if you as gun owner use the gun to commit a crime then i think it highly unlikely that the insurance would pay out, a long time ago the auto insurance guys decided it was not a good idea to write policies that covered speeding tickets...


                there is only one reality, republicans just forget at times

                by Bloke on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:06:40 AM PST

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                •  make them responsible for medical (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dallasdoc, mamamedusa

                  costs of incomplete suicides.

                •  Make them cover all expenses... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  related to the suicide such as police, coroner, public costs of any kind including therapy for the victims family, school, etc... these are all costs the public now covers when a suicide takes place.

                  In the last year and a half, two kids from my son's school have committed suicide with a hand gun (13 & 14 years old) and the had grief counselors at the school.  All of that costs money.

                  Make gun owners of any non-antique gun that holds more than 6 rounds have a license and liability insurance for each peapon.  Require the license to be shown when hunting license are purchased and upon entry into any firing range.  If a game warden approaches you, you have to show him or her you proof of insurance just like a traffic stop.  Any illegal behavior that increases your risk to the insurance company raises your rates.  If you prove you have a gun safe and adaquate training, your rates go down.  It's a free market solution that right wingers love.

                  "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

                  by Buckeye Nut Schell on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:52:52 AM PST

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              •  Ranges would have to be required (14+ / 0-)

                to check for insurance before someone could use them as well.

                An unsuccessful shoe bomb attack resulted in nine years of inconvenience for every flier in the country. It would be nice to think [this diabolical act] might lead to some similar inconveniences. --mrblifil

                by Debby on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:11:42 AM PST

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            •  As you say (7+ / 0-)

              auto insurance compliance is usually enforced due to involvement of law enforcement over other routine matters. It's true people don't brandish their guns as often as they take out their cars. But if guns are found in a home as a result of home inspection in preparation of a sale, or in the process of a response to domestic abuse, or during a bust requiring warranted search then it would behoove the gun owner to be in compliance or suffer dire consequences, on a par with what might happen if the guns were unlicensed.

              And sure because those events are less common than the average traffic stop, many gun owners will refuse to comply and take their chances. Over time though, enough isolated examples of punishment for non-compliance would probably lead to better observance of the laws.

              •  What is the Punishment? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                happy camper, AoT

                I really think that having the home inspector check for guns would be a bit of a non starter what with them not being law enforcement and all, but the other examples you give gun found as part of a warranted search I can see being a possibility.  That brings us to the the obvious follow up...

                What is the penalty? remember there are States that do not require a license for gun ownership so having an "unlicensed" gun in the home is not a crime.  So what do you propose is the punishment for ownership of an uninsured gun?  no other crime simple possession of and uninsured gun? is it a misdemeanor or a felony?  What happens if I am just a couple of days late on my insurance premiums?  what happens if the police have reasonable suspicion that there may be an uninsured gun in the home, do they have the right to enter the home to collect the weapon?  it becomes farcical after a while, the problem is you only have to look at the way the "War on Drugs" has morphed into a multi headed hydra to realize that unintended consequences result from well intended actions.

                there is only one reality, republicans just forget at times

                by Bloke on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:23:59 AM PST

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          •  The insurer would insist on regulations. n/t (0+ / 0-)

            Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

            by DefendOurConstitution on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 11:05:04 AM PST

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        •  The NRA does not sell insurance (0+ / 0-)

          It just gets a kickback from Lockton, a broker that it deals with. The good news for the NRA is that it never loses money on this. I haven't seen where Lockton buys the insurance from. It may be a number of different insurance companies.

          Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?

          by freelunch on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:30:26 AM PST

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          •  NRA annual and Life membership includes insurance (0+ / 0-)

            the basic NRA membership includes insurance, more for life members.  its nor a lot but its part of your annual membership dues and covers all firearms activity.

            there is only one reality, republicans just forget at times

            by Bloke on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:47:24 AM PST

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        •  Make it a government insurance policy. (0+ / 0-)

          There is no need to let the state insurance commissioners have any role in a national problem. Add gun insurance to the ATF.

          Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

          by hestal on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:40:55 AM PST

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          •  10th ammendment (0+ / 0-)

            you are going to take on the 2nd amendment nuts with a 10th amendment challenge.  good luck

            there is only one reality, republicans just forget at times

            by Bloke on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:48:31 AM PST

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            •  I have no idea what you are talking about (0+ / 0-)

              and I probably don't care.

              Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

              by hestal on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:57:19 AM PST

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              •  10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                GoGoGoEverton, AoT
                The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

                Have you noticed?
                Politicians who promise LESS government
                only deliver BAD government.

                by jjohnjj on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:13:23 AM PST

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      •  It should be funded by gun liability policies (5+ / 0-)

        AND a tax on ammunition.  Not "or."  

        And absolutely no exceptions for guns already owned. You own it, it's usable, you cover it.

      •  You can't buy ammo without proof of (8+ / 0-)


        Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

        by hestal on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:43:33 AM PST

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    •  A drop in coverage should be reported to the (3+ / 0-)

      licensing authority, which should then require the gun owner to provide alternate proof of coverage or surrender their firearms.

      I made several exceptions to the comparison between the requirements for owning and driving a car to those I'd like to see instituted for owning and operating a firearm in a comment in another diary. I don't know whether some/many/most states require insurers to notify them of any lapse in coverage, nor whether they can revoke someone's driving license based solely on lapse of coverage, but for firearms, if you're not insured, you shouldn't have a gun license or a gun.

      For a driver, not being able to afford coverage is no excuse - no insurance, no driving privileges. Unlike car insurance, though, coverage should be required of both the owner and the operator of a firearm (in California, you don't need a driver's license to own a car if you don't drive it and you don't need liability insurance to drive a car if you don't own one; you insure the car and license the driver. For a gun, both the owner and operator should be licensed and insured). This is the minimum level of responsibility and accountability we should require for firearms.

      Not to mention, no victim of a shooting should have to shoulder the cost of medical care or property damage unless the shooting was in self-defense. My heart breaks for the families who, in addition to losing a child to senseless violence, have to bear funeral and other costs for their departed loved one.

      I'm a Democrat - I believe that government has a positive role to play in the lives of ordinary people.

      by 1BQ on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:50:40 AM PST

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