LA County considers mandatory insurance for gun owners

On the heels of the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, Los Angeles County officials are considering a proposal on liability insurance

Insurance News


In the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attacks that killed 14 people, Los Angeles County officials are considering a step that any have considered on the heels of great gun violence – mandating that all firearms owners buy insurance.

The proposal is being considered alongside several others officials say may “further prevent violence and improve safety in the workplace and public settings.” County lawyers, public safety and mental health officials were asked to look at the potential measures and report back on their efficacy.

The insurance policy proposed is described as “similar to car insurance,” in which payments would offset the costs to victims and public agencies if the policyholder’s gun is used to injure or kill someone.

Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas, who proposed the insurance requirement, said the policy would help decrease costs for accidental shootings as well as gun crimes – both of which are costly to public agencies.

“If you have a car, it has to be insured,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “It puts more of a burden of responsibility on the owners.”

A similar proposal for gun owner insurance was considered on a federal level earlier this year, but no states or local jurisdictions have successfully passed laws with this requirement.

Gun insurance requirements have, in the past, been criticized for breaching the Second Amendment and failing to have a significant effect on gun crime. However, some scholars believe the proposal could reduce accidents by getting people to store their guns more securely or to purchase so-called “smart guns” that can only be fired by authorized users.”

The San Bernardino attack has prompted other insurance offerings from the private market, including active shooter coverage.

Offered through Willis Group, the policies covers a company if it is found not to have taken needed precautions to prevent gun rampages. It also covers “on the scene” costs of an attack, and is triggered when victims require counseling or consulting as a result of the incident.

The policy insures businesses for up to $5 million, Willis says.

Still, insurers have not reacted measurably to the recent rash of mass shootings. Beazley, an affiliate of Lloyd’s of London, is the only insurance firm currently underwriting active shooter policies and workers’ comp rates have not risen as a result of recent attacks – still a statistically small portion of the causes of workplace injuries.

According to the Department of Labor, more than 4,600 people were killed in the workplace in 2014, largely due to accidents. The AFL-CIO estimates that just about 773 workplace deaths were the result of violence out of 3.8 million reported injuries that year.

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