Additional Comments B20-170 DC Gun Insurance Bill

Here are the detailed written comments submitted for the record by Tom Harvey, this blogger, after the hearing on the DC gun insurance bill.  The bill is supported by this blog as a start in getting gun insurance enacted.

Comments as PDF

 

 

National Assn. of Mutual Insurance Co’s Against Gun Insurance.

In a opinion article on Property Casualty 360 titled “Major Misfire” Paul Tetrault, state and policy affairs counsel for NAMIC, denounced the move in seven states and Congress to require insurance on guns.  He repeated the statements that insurance cannot cover intentional acts.  This blog has several times published numerous examples of current insurance that does cover intentional and even criminal acts to the benefit of parties other than the person who does the acts.  This was pointed out to NAMIC but their spokesperson emailed that the organization stands behind the article.

North Carolina Added to States with Gun Insurance Bills

A bill HB976 has been introduced in the North Carolina Legislature.  It has several gun control provisions including $100,000 in mandatory gun liability insurance.  This insurance goes farther than in most other states by applying to willful acts and to unreported stolen guns.  The bill introduced by Rep’s Luebke, Insko, Harrison and Adams has 7 sponsors so far.  It was introduced on 4/17/13, showing that momentum to deal with gun violence is continuing and that insurance is seen as a part of the solution.  There have now been bills introduced in 9 states and the US House.

Suggestions for HR-1369 Firearm Risk Protection Act of 2013

Representative Carolyn Maloney along with 8 cosponsors has introduced a bill,  H.R. 1369 – Firearm Risk Protection Act of 2013, to require that gun buyers and sellers have “qualified” liability insurance when they make a transaction or continue to own the gun.  They would be fined up to $10,000 if they do not have and maintain the insurance.  The text of the bill does not define “qualified” and gives no further details.  I spoke on the phone with Rep. Maloney’s press contact and was told that the bill will be filled out with more detail in the future.  In this diary, I will lay out the principles and elements that should be considered when the bill language is developed.

Gun insurance should serve to protect victims and promote safe storage and use of firearms, without being an excessive burden on gun owners (for a description of possible insurance see here).  Unfortunately, conventional liability insurance as sold, for example by the NRA, is designed only to protect the gun owner not third party victims.  Gun insurance, like any insurance that is mandated by government or required as a condition of doing business, should be designed to protect those injured by an incident.  Moreover, it needs to protect the public by encouraging safe practices.  Currently, gun insurance only protects the gun owner from theft and lawsuits. Continue reading

Firearm Risk Protection Act introduced in Congress H.R. 1369

For details on the recommendations by this blogger on how to implement this bill and have this insurance see my the April 2 post on Daily Kos

A bill titled the Firearm Risk Protection Act  has been introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the national Congress. As of March 29, 2013 there is not text available on Congress.Gov but the bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. Rep. Maloney’s press release states that the bill will impose a $10,000 fine if an owner does not have the required coverage. It exempts service members and law officers.

Other details have yet to be developed. Rep. Maloney’s press aide stated that in a phone call and email that “like all legislation, it was meant to start a conversation about national priorities” and welcomed input to the process. This blogger will certainly be following the bill and recommending that it be done in a way that provides the maximum protection to victims. It’s likely that the bill authors have in mind a relatively simple model of Liability insurance which could be improved by adding provisions to:

  1. Follow guns as they are lost or stolen
  2. Eliminate provisions to limit coverage for intentional acts
  3. Eliminate requirements for negligence by gun owners
  4. Require steps it aid identification of the responsible weapon

The bill has 8 cosponsors so far:

  1. Keith Ellison MN-5
  2. Eleanor Holmes Norton DC
  3. Michael E. Capuano MA-7 20
  4. James P. Moran VA-8
  5. Bobby Rush IL-1
  6. Niki Tsongas MA-3
  7. Stephen F. Lynch MA-8 202-225-8273
  8. Earl Blumenaur OR-3 202-225-4811

Insurance-Good for Victims, Safety and Gun Owners

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We have responsible ways to handle things which are dangerous but which are not made illegal because of their actual or assumed benefits to society. We look carefully at ways to contain the dangers and enjoy the benefits in almost every case. The exception is firearms, but we are just beginning to pull our heads out of the sand and examine this important subject.

First Principle — Mandatory No-Fault Insurance to Cover All Victims

One of the most powerful tools to facilitate a dangerous activity is insurance. Unfortunately, requiring insurance to cover gun violence has been looked at only as a way to penalize gun ownership or at least to transfer costs to gun owners. The result is calls for high limit liability insurance, usually with terms that make actual implementation unlikely. This blog argues that the tort/liability model is one of the least effective ways to increase safety and provide for victims. A No-Fault system similar to worker’s compensation or some motor vehicle insurance is much better. It needs to follow a gun that changes hands in a way to insure that all guns are covered.

Second Principle — Top Down Insurance Does Not Require Gun Registration or Owner Tracking

This blog also is advocating that insurance be required of gun manufacturers or anyone bringing a gun into the system in such a way that the insurer only relinquishes responsibility when another insurer (contracted by a new owner) takes it up. Insurance should remain in effect through any transfer legal or not. This would allow confidence that insurance was always in effect without tracking the gun owners. With a proper No-Fault system the victim would not have to even be told the name of the owner to collect compensation. All transactions by claimants or the government would be with the insurance companies.

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$100K in Jewelry Stolen From Car

Yahoo’s OMG reports that an actress who left the jewelry in her car had it stolen while she was at a friend’s Hollywood apartment.

So what’s this got to do with gun insurance?

Well, hundreds of thousands of guns go bad by being stolen each year, many from cars. The value of the object being stolen does not seem to be adequate to prevent this problem. Insurers will limit this exposure if they are going to be responsible for the future damage the guns do. Of course, responsible gun owners don’t leave their guns in cars. Insurance is a way to engender that responsibility.

Oregon SB-758 First State Bill for Effective Gun Insurance

Senators Dingfelder and Burdick with Representative Denbrow have introduced a bill in the Oregon Legislature (SB-758) which is the first effective plan for gun insurance that would provide for victims. It works by imposing strict liability on a gun owner for injuries associated with a gun even for one year after the gun is lost or stolen. There is no limitation to economic damages as is typical of no-fault motor vehicle insurance. The limits are set quite high at $250,000 for physical injury or death. Continue reading

Workers’ Compensation Insurance and Gun Insurance

Motor vehicle insurance has been the obvious model for insurance advocated by this blog to provide for victims of gun violence. There are many parallels, especially with No-Fault versions to serving the gun situation. There is another place in our society were insurance was poorly working to protect injured persons and where society with the insurance industry has produced a system which has shown durable benefits in efficiently dealing with an important risk. Continue reading