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. Continue reading
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
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.
The best system known to this blog for insuring guns to provide for victims, discourage unsafe practices and not excessively burden gun owners is a Top-Down no-fault personal injury protection insurance system similar to the way that motor vehicle insurance currently works for pedestrians in NY state and Michigan.
There is a nice article “Even with health insurance, medical bills can mount for shooting victims,” on InsuranceQuotes.com by Lisa Shidler. It talks about the $2.4 million for treating the people wounded in the Gabrielle Giffords incident and a number of other subjects. Actually, after negotiations with insurance companies the amount to be paid will be reduced to an estimated $565,000 or $43,462 for each of the 13 wounded persons.
The article links to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation which has a table of costs for gun violence which gives a lot of interesting figures. Of interest to this blog is the average medical cost $49,947 for the medical expenses of each hospital admitted non-fatally injured person. Costs are much lower, $1,146, for persons treated in the ER only. It also gives total medical costs for firearm injuries at $2.88 Billion for 2010 of which almost exactly one half is paid by Medicare or Medicaid. To put it into scale, the total medical costs for firearm injuries is about $10.00 per year for each of the 270 million guns in private hands in the US.
Loss of worktime, which is covered by Personal Injury Protection for motor vehicles in most no-fault states, is about twice as much as the direct medical costs.
Insurance coverage for firearms victims is important in order to insure that the care is actually delivered. These figures show that the overall costs need not be a big burden to gun owners.
There are many similarities between motor vehicles and guns, because they both have a built in danger but are present in our society. There are also important differences in the way they are used and the situation surrounding that use. The specific top down, no-fault system of insurance being analyzed in this blog is intended to deal with these differences.
1. The vast majority of car deaths and injuries are accidents; intentional injury with a car is rare. The majority of shootings are intentional whether or not they constitute crimes.
I’ve been writing for a short while about my ideas on how to deal with guns and the deaths and injuries they cause through insurance. I am thinking about how we could have a solution that would eliminate most of the carnage, but still allow people to have what they want in a less dangerous way. I do appreciate the fun that people have as a valuable thing no matter where it comes from. Life seems to be double peaked about that, fun when you’re young, then several decades of being serious and then you realize that life is about the experiences you have.
So, when I see the most vocal of the pro-gun people go purple with rage if they think someone is going to take their guns away, I know how they feel. And that just how I feel about having my access to the knowledge of my world being blocked. My first amendment rights are being infringed and the first amendment is first and before the second amendment.
What need to be done about guns is not simple and needs great thought. It’s just that they cause great pain and suffering and that must stop. People who have an investment of their time and interest in guns are entitled to have their views taken into consideration. The NRA, on the other hand, is an organization that is willing to destroy any of the great traditions of our country for its narrow purpose. They would trade all of America’s freedoms for some tiny increase in gun sales.
Many people who can see the need to protect persons injured by guns and can see the parallels for responsibility to motor vehicles have a problem with involving insurance companies. Writing recently in a diary about possible system for requiring insurance on guns, one of the most common concerns was a distrust or even hatred of insurers. This is understandable because insurance companies often deny claims or access to insurance; and denial is likely to be harmful and very upsetting to the person denied. In so many areas, insurance coverage is required in one way or another and is a barrier to people getting on with their lives. Nevertheless, insurance is necessary and it matters greatly how it is implemented.
So the question is how would the insurance experience for gun owners work out?
The system I am envisioning in my writing requires insurance to be purchased by manufacturers or importers in such a way that, to relieve an insurer of responsibility, each successive owner must take over or provide new insurance. If the gun is lost, stolen or diverted the responsibility stays with the current insurer. This is critical because the primary danger lawful owners make to the public is they may lose control of a gun. An important advantage of this system is that the government only has to regulate or even know about manufacturers, importers and insurers. There is no need to register privately owned guns for this to work.
The legislation needed to mandate insurance would prescribe the types of incidents that would be covered and the requirements for payment. It is very important that it be a no-fault system for two reasons, the situation in many shootings is so unclear that, even if it’s obvious there must be some kind of fault, proving it can be very difficult and protecting the privacy of gun owners is very important. This gives insurers much less room is denying claims than in other kinds of insurance. No-fault insurance for automobiles works well in many states, but the comparison of cars to guns is to the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage that’s part of many state systems as it applies to pedestrians, who often don’t have their own insurance. For examples, see Florida and New York.
For the purchasers of gun insurance, it’s likely that there would be substantial competition about rates. Gun selling businesses would work hard to make good and economical carriers available to their customers. Because the rates would probably vary significantly for customers in different situations, with different styles of storage and use and for different types of firearms, the insurers would be competing on convenience and privacy as well as price.
The big costs for automobile liability insurance claims are injuries and property damage rather than fatalities. Because guns are involved in only about 2.5% as many injuries as motor vehicles, the average cost would be low. Very generous benefits would have an average annual cost to insurers of less than $40 per gun. Limits similar to a less generous plan such as Florida’s PIP would be less than one quarter of that. These are averages; and particular situations would have higher or lower costs. In particular, guns that have been in the possession of owners for substantial periods have a much smaller chance of turning up in shootings later.
I posted the last article “How to Seriously Approach Gun Insurance That Protects Everyone” on this blog to Daily Kos. I’ve been getting quite a few comments. Half or so are positive and the rest are very interesting. The three things I need to study so far from the problems pointed out are: It’s hard to explain the point of my approach so a quick reader working from scratch will get it, a lot of people think it won’t slow down the rate of injuries and deaths and a lot of people think insurance companies are just a rip off. The last two problems are strongly affected by the way the system is implemented and I need to give that a lot of thought. Good to get informative feedback. Not much general negative feed back but some think that guns shouldn’t be touched at all.
There are lots of posts, comments, OpEds and media articles about requiring liability insurance for guns since Newtown. In fact, you can find a dozen (or many more) less than 24 hours old by searching “gun insurance” on your favorite search engine. They tend to fall into three categories—advocating that we have it, denouncing it as an assault on gun rights or regretfully explaining the impossibility of making it work. All of these categories are based on conventional liability insurance mandated in various amounts up to about $1 Million. The purpose of the insurance advocates often seems to be to punish gun owners for the danger they give to society and is seen as a back handed way to ban guns by the gun advocates. I think insurance, if differently structured, can be a way to deal with the deaths and injuries associated with guns without unduly burdening people who want to own and use guns.
There are two major goals that are served by a good system of insurance here, first to provide compensation for persons injured and, secondly, to allow the costs of gun violence to fall on those who can do something about it. In addition to the deaths, approximately 75,000 persons per year are non-fatally injured by guns according to the CDC. Continue reading