What is the best concealed carry insurance?
Carrying a firearm is one of the more serious responsibilities you can take on in this world. There are very few sports or hobbies which put you in direct responsibility for both your own safety and the safety of those in your immediate vicinity. Carrying a firearm does exactly that; as you may find yourself in a self-defense situation, defending the safety of your family, or preventing a violent crime.
The use of deadly force can also come with it incredibly expensive, time-consuming legal consequences – even if you never fired a shot.
All of this is why smart gun owners often look to protect themselves in the form of concealed carry insurance– just in case. But where to start?
So… many… options...
The Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network plan offers minimalist coverage capped at $25,000 for bail bonds and attorney fees, pending further review, and no coverage for potentially crippling civil damages. They also do not cover things like crime scene clean up fees, emotional counseling after an incident, lost wages while in court, or for seized firearms.
However, they are a value leader, with plans running in the neighborhood of just $135 per year and renewals just $95. They even offer decade-long plans which can save you some coin. ACLDN also provides regular access to training lectures and materials and has an advisory board comprised of the recognized leaders in self-defense training such as Massad Ayoob.
One nuance on ACLDN when it comes to their unlimited coverage: the coverage maxes out at half their defense fund. That may not matter much provided their defense fund is large enough that half is more than any fixed amount of coverage but that can certainly change – meaning there’s a possibility (depending on the total defense fund) fixed plans may actually provide more coverage.
CCW Safe has plans for those both with and without concealed carry permits, a key feature for those living in Constitutional Carry states. Holding that they offer the highest bond coverage in the industry– up to $1 million– they also cover 100 percent of criminal and civil legal defense costs with no limits.
Employing former homicide detectives as experts, the company is one of the most professional in the field. Further, they offer as much as $10,000 towards red flag law gun seizure hearings. Their plans run between $149 and $499 annually, with monthly payment options in some cases.
Firearms Legal Protection
Firearms Legal Protection is one of the more affordable carry insurance providers currently in the market. Available to residents of more than 30 states, the group has no published top-out on criminal or civil defense attorney fees as well as a replacement program for firearms lost in self-defense encounters. FLP’s emergency hotline is answered by attorneys. Their plans range from $14.95 a month to $479 yearly.
Second Call Defense
With four levels of protection currently offered, Second Call Defense extends coverage for up to $1 million in legal fees on civil cases and $100,000 in the event of criminal cases. They also offer to cover significant physiological support– up to 40 sessions– as well as cover other potential defense expenses such as expert witnesses, private investigators, and scientific defense studies. Their plans start at $9.95 a month and run up to $399.
The United States Concealed Carry Association is perhaps the most popular self-defense liability insurance providers in the country, with over a half-million members. There is a good reason for this as the group is on point when it comes to the level of service provided, offering plans that cover up to $2 million in civil defense legal fees– one of the highest in the industry– along with personal hardship and counseling services, a rarity when compared to other programs.
The group is also opposed to so-called “red flag” laws, which can often lead to unfounded firearm confiscations from otherwise law-abiding gun owners without due process. Should you have to go to court, USCCA allows a per diem of $750 to cover lost wages. Plans start at $47 a month.
U.S. & Texas Law Shield
With over 625,000 members, U.S. Law Shield is the people’s champ when it comes to self-defense insurance providers, offering coverage to not only CCW holders but also security officers and law enforcement, which have their specialized concerns. Offering unlimited civil and criminal defense litigation coverage extended to all legal weapons, the group offers both emergency and non-emergency access to program attorneys.
To keep members abreast of recent developments, U.S. Law Shield offers seminars and hands-on workshops hosted across the country nearly every single day, provides special reports, and access to thousands of state-specific videos, books, and the latest legal updates. On the downside, the inability to pick your own attorney should you need one– U.S. Law Shield assigns one in their network– may be a deal-breaker for some. Their plans start at $10.95 a month.
What is carry insurance?
Going beyond the typical realm of “insurance” (such as for a home or automobile), concealed carry — or more appropriately self-defense — liability insurance is more correctly a program of legal protection that caters to gun owners who may find themselves in need of such assistance following a use-of-force event such as a home-defense incident or justifiable homicide. These programs are less insurance, and more pre-paid legal coverage, but more on that in a minute.
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These packages can carry a wide range of support options including provisions to select a specialized criminal or civil defense attorney– and help pay their fees– provide cash for bail bond coverage, gun retrieval, psychological support, witness coordination, crime scene clean-up, protecting lost wages while in court, and extending access to training networks and self-defense experts to help keep you safe and prepared beforehand.
Why would you need carry insurance?
While self-defense scenarios are, gratefully, rare, the potential fall out of using a firearm for personal protection can lead to civil liability that can leave you penniless. Besides, there is the prospect of criminal charges that can strip your very freedom away in the event they are sustained.
The good guy with a gun, even if they did everything right and is characterized as a “hero” by some, can still end up in jail and penniless at the end of the day.
The act of retaining a semi-decent defense attorney will usually top $10,000, and that is just a down payment. Wading through pre-charge, pre-trial, discovery, investigation, and trial cycles can cost upwards of $150,000, not including potential court-ordered damages and the cost of appeals.
Expect that amount to double or triple if the media gets involved and your case becomes interesting to the public for one reason or another. This type of outlay can bankrupt just about anyone and leave your family with six-figure debt even after you are gone. With so much on the line, having access to a network of specialists who can provide legal protection for armed citizens is an example of a modern solution to a modern problem.
But you shouldn’t have anything to worry about, right?
Although you may have done everything right, obeyed every law, and acted in a fully justified manner, there’s no telling what local investigators and prosecutors may pursue to help depressurize the atmosphere around an incident.
Prosecutorial discretion can be very opaque, especially if the facts of a case are unclear or there’s a charged environment surrounding the events. Going further, even in the absence of criminal investigations or charges, there is always the prospect of multiple civil actions being filed against you by an injured subject or their survivors seeking damages, often represented by an experienced personal injury lawyer with dollar signs in their eyes and the fast ability to settle a case.
Defending against a wrongful death lawsuit can be truly life changing in the worst possible ways.
With nearly 20 million concealed handgun permits in circulation and millions of additional Americans residing in states that recognize permitless or Constitutional Carry, there is a huge market for carry insurance programs to serve.
This means there has been a lot of competition in the trade with numerous companies and underwriters entering the market over the past several years. Some, such as the NRA’s Carry Guard program, have come and gone, while others, like the extremely popular USCCA, have endured and grown.
With such a crowded marketplace in the carry insurance industry, and each company vying for clients, this translates to value for the customer as there truly is a plan to fit any list of wants at a reasonable price.
The downside to this is that plans of the same price point often vary widely in what they include and cover which is further complicated by the fact the topic is inherently difficult to navigate. This brings us to…
Read the fine print
The first critical criteria is upfront payout of expenses. Some plans will only reimburse members at a later date – leaving you sitting in a local jail if you do not have enough cash for bail or hurrying through a second mortgage application to free up funds to retain a lawyer.
Further, look to providers that allow coverage for use of any legal weapon, as some only cover a narrow field of self-defense tools, a common but disastrous potential pitfall. Also, considering you will most likely need assistance at a moment’s notice, check to make sure the provider has an emergency hotline that is accessible 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Before you need one, check to see if the program allows you to select your local defense attorney, which may be preferable to settling for one the provider assigns to your case from their network.
Verify that the coverage will follow you around all 50 states if you travel, as well as in an incident inside your residence, such as a home invasion.
Be advised that you may not be able to secure a policy in your area due to insurance and banking bureaucracies. Some states, notably New Jersey, New York, and Washington, significantly restrict the marketing of concealed carry insurance to residents and have even gone so far as to fine companies that attempt to sell or underwrite such plans, based on violations of statutory and sometimes byzantine regulatory requirements.
This is one of the reasons that Carry Guard is no longer around.
Most providers have “good, better, and best” style tiered packages offered on a sliding scale, with monthly or annual rates. These costs run as low as $10 a month to over $600 per year depending on the plan.
As with traditional insurance home or auto policies, yearly rates tend to be slightly better than monthly premiums. Multi-year rates as well as discounts to add family members such as spouses are also available and can save money if you crunch the numbers.
Keep in mind that lower cost plans exist because they cut back on the company’s exposure, often greatly limiting its potential liability– again a trait common with regular insurance.
This does not mean basic or no-frills carry insurance programs are junk, they just do not offer as comprehensive coverage of a terrible scenario as more premium plans. In short, you often get what you pay for or suffer over what you did not. A case of the proverbial penny shy and pound foolish.
The smart bet is to do some homework and shop around for a package that you feel best suits your needs.
Access to Training
When it comes to prevention, most self-defense insurance packages include access to content and ongoing training to help responsible gun owners keep on the right side of the law. While homicide dates back to the Old Testament, the ins and outs of justifiable homicide in today’s world are much more modern and complex.
Concealed carry insurers, just as companies that write auto policies offer safety tips, will usually make available a range of legal seminars, training courses, firearms safety resources, and use-of-force guides to members, all crafted by experts in their respective fields. When the cost of taking even basic firearms handling courses on your own is compared to the price of a better carry insurance plan, you can often see a straightforward value in these products for the training aspect alone.
- The Law of Self Defense, Andrew Branca, The MUST AVOID Self-Defense Insurance Trap, July 10, 2020
- Pharmaceutical Science Research Network, Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2020, November 21, 2020
- Wikipedia, Constitutional carry
- Insurance Journal, Lockton Affinity to Pay $1M for Administering Carry Guard Insurance in New Jersey, September 6, 2019
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