Gun owners must now purchase insurance in San Jose, California
San Jose became the first known jurisdiction in the United States to require gun owners to carry liability insurance. If gun owners follow through, they will most likely get it — or already have it — in their owners or enter policies, insurance industry officials say.
Key points to remember
- San Jose is the first US city to require gun owners to carry liability insurance.
- 316 people are shot daily in the United States, 106 killed and 90 shot unintentionally but survive.
- No U.S. insurance company offers separate, stand-alone firearms liability coverage, says the Insurance Information Institute (iii.org).
- Homeowners and renters insurance can cover claims for accidental negligence, discharge and loss.
- Insurance industry experts point out that no insurance policy will cover a felony shooting – there are exclusions for unlawful acts.
- Other cities have been urged to follow San Jose’s lead, but insurers say it’s not necessary for protection.
After the city council voted June 25 to pass the new law, the San Jose mayor’s office touted the initiative as a way to reduce gun violence, as the ordinance also includes a separate fee unrelated to gun violence. Insurance Payable by Designated Violence Gun Owners. annual non-profit fund focused on prevention.
Ongoing gun violence prompts lawmakers to act
The increase in deadly violence, including mass shootings in the United States, where 316 people are shot daily, 106 killed and 90 are unintentionally shot but survive, according to advocacy group Brady United created momentum to enact gun ownership and liability laws.
Advocates and consumer groups in the gun violence prevention community applauded the new law as innovative and urged other cities to follow San Jose’s high-profile example. The new ordinance comes into force 180 days after its adoption, so in about 6 months.
According to the AP’s report on the new measure, a May 26, 2021 mass shooting of 8 people by a 57-year-old male employee, who later committed suicide at a nearby light rail station, prompted the Mayor Sam Liccardo to adopt a broader plan of action to address gun violence.
The new law cited devastating firearm injury and death statistics for the state and the nation, including the finding that having a firearm in the home, regardless of type or its storage, was associated with an increased risk of firearm death by homicide or suicide. In the United States, more than 23,000 people die by suicide, 14,000 die by homicide, and nearly 500 die each year from accidental firearm injuries.according to the wording of the new law.
No amount of insurance will buy coverage for crimes involving firearms
However, insurance industry representatives noted that there are remedies in the system and that in the vast majority of cases no policy will be written by actuaries to cover an illegal act. Most standard policies contain an exclusion of liability for intentional and/or criminal acts and no insurance covering criminal acts is in development or planned, according to those in the personal lines insurance industry.
The insurance was simply not intended to cover criminal acts, and those intended to cause damage, unless there were extenuating circumstances such as a home invasion or self-defense, say the personal line experts.
There are no specific U.S. insurers that offer “separate, stand-alone firearms liability coverage,” as the Insurance Information Institute reports in a recent article.
Check Current Homeowners Policy Coverage
There is personal liability coverage for gun owners, but it’s usually available through a gun association, according to the Triple I. There is specific coverage for self-defense with a gun in some fonts, but that’s rare, according to the organization.
In the absence of such personal firearm policies, owners’ insurance policies could cover damage to or loss of a gun, including accidental discharge, so it’s best to check with your agent if one has firearms to verify coverage.
In personal lines like homeowners policies, firearms are treated like other personal property. So people can make claims for damage or loss of a gun or the accidental discharge of a gun, according to Karen Collins, assistant vice president for personal lines for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association.
These types of firearm incidents might already be covered by homeowners’ policies, while health insurance will cover an individual’s medical expenses from a shooting, up to the policy limit, she noted in an email from a spokesperson.
New coverage is needed rather than new laws, say insurance executives
“Some people see mandatory firearms liability coverage as a solution to accidental discharges, negligent acts by gun owners and theft. However, new legislation is not necessary to achieve this. goal,” Collins said.
Indeed, the wording of the order itself indicates that this liability coverage is found in other personal lines insurance policies. It orders anyone who lives in San Jose and owns a firearm to maintain a “homeowner’s, renter’s, or firearm’s liability insurance policy with a licensed insurer,” and states that those policies must cover damage caused by the careless or accidental use of a firearm.
Enforcement of the new measure is still vague and appears to come in the form of citations, notes of potential fines still set and other civil and administrative remedies.
The California Department of Insurance did not return a question about the measure and its applicable laws.