The purpose of having insurance for victims of gun violence is to provide money for the many needs they have after they suffer from a shooting. The insurance should be structured to pay in the various situations that occur, for the various needs that are faced and in a timely manner. There are lots of kinds of insurance in use today and several ones will be examined in the chapters that follow. Starting with the most basic insurance designed only to protect the buyer of the insurance, we will add features until we see that it is possible to create a system that works to provide the needed protection. We’ll start with the simplest in the progression.
Simple Liability Insurance
Simple liability insurance is the kind of insurance that a gun owner would buy voluntarily to protect himself or herself. If the gun owner is sued by a victim, the insurer is obligated to defend the gun owner in court. It’s necessary for the victim to prove fault on the part of the gun owner. The degree of blamelessness required on the part of the victim varies. If there are terms in the policy excluding coverage because of any situation of action by the gun owner, they will prevent recovery even if they are very arbitrary. The insurance company will probably fight tooth and nail to blame the victim, deny responsibility or get out of having to pay by any means available. If it looks like the victim will win the suit than there may be an offer of settlement and if the victim does win the money to pay will be available. This is a considerably better situation than trying to sue a gun owner or user who does not have any money. The existence of insurance is usually a major part of getting legal representation for an injured person without the victim having to prepay an attorney.
Liability Insurance for Paying to Victims
When insurance is mandated or otherwise designed to protect victims, then it should work differently. The victim in effect becomes an additional insured. It’s still necessary to show that the gun owner was at fault in the incident, but other acts by the insurance purchaser usually don’t prevent payment. The most important is that reasonable system for compelling insurance will pay if the gun and insurance owner intentionally do the shooting. In addition, the mandate should restrict the arbitrary exclusions that could become a barrier. The insurer normally pays directly to the victim. This is the way that the required motor vehicle insurance works in most states that do not have no-fault systems.
As its name implies, no-fault insurance does not depend on negligence or other fault on the part of the shooter. It pays to the victim on the basis of the losses and injuries received. In the case of motor vehicles, most no fault has an injured person collect first from their own insurance. This makes since because most of the time there are either two cars involved or the driver or a passenger of the one car is the injured person. But for situations where a car hits a pedestrian, the driver’s or the car owner’s insurance is the one to pay. This is the way it would work for guns. It should be clear that there is no problem with requiring the insurance to pay for intentional or criminal shooting on the part of the gun owner. One serious problem remains, the gun may be in the hands of someone other than a responsible owner who can be required to have insurance.
Insurance Guaranteed to Follow the Gun
If no-fault insurance as described above is mandated and it applies to particular guns rather than guns in the hands of an insured person, there is a cure for the uninsured gun problem. The insurance can stay in effect after the gun is diverted, lost or stolen as long as necessary. Various calls in state legislatures do this directly until the loss is reported to police, but the rule can be that the only way an insurer relinquishes responsibility for a gun is to have a new insurer take it up. Of course, insurers would take steps to guarantee that a gun owner does not lose control of a gun without getting that new insurer in place. This would also eliminate the need for the government mandating the insurance to follow up or track guns and owners directly. It would only need to track the insurers.
The last form of insurance is the one needed to provide for the broad array of victims of shootings.