News and notes on guns in America

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NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch appears in promotional material for the group's Carry Guard program. [NRA]

The NRA’s Self-Defense Insurance, Carry Guard, Loses Crucial Partners

In the wake of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida,  the National Rifle Association has lost relationships with a number of big corporations that are facing public pressure: Delta, Hertz, and MetLife to name a few. But perhaps no severing of ties cuts the gun group deeper than the end of its partnerships with the insurance underwriter Chubb and the brokerage Lockton Affinity.

Last spring, the NRA worked with Chubb and Lockton Affinity to create a product called Carry Guard, a subscription service that provides people who carry concealed firearms with tips, training and insurance to cover liability and legal costs stemming from self-defense shootings. Subscribers pay between $13.95 and $49.95 per month for varying levels of coverage.

On Friday, Chubb disclosed that, three months ago, it had decided not to renew its contract to underwrite the policies, and Lockton said on Monday that it will no longer act as broker and administrator for Carry Guard.

“It’s a major step back,” Peter Kochenburger, the executive director of the Insurance Law Center at the University of Connecticut Law School, told me. “To keep this going, the NRA will have to find another insurance company to underwrite this. It’s hard to imagine another publicly traded company, or a company like State Farm, stepping in.”

When Carry Guard debuted last April, it provided a way for the NRA to cash in on unprecedented political triumphs. With Republican allies in charge of the White House and both houses of Congress, NRA figures like CEO Wayne LaPierre and the lobbyist Chris Cox spoke optimistically about the possibility of enacting national concealed carry reciprocity legislation, which was passed by the House in December and would massively expand the ability of Americans to carry guns in public for self-defense purposes. The NRA aggressively marketed Carry Guard as a means to more readily exercise that right, a capstone to three decades of lobbying and organizing to encourage armed self defense.

Horrified critics, including the mother of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old shot to death in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012, argued that Carry Guard amounted to “murder insurance” that would encourage trigger-happy civilians to eagerly shoot at any perceived threat.

When the NRA held its annual meeting in Atlanta in May 2017, a Carry Guard banner several stories high hung from the side of the city’s main convention center. As recently as last Wednesday, the NRA’s homepage featured a prominent plug for Carry Guard. But today, all mention of the program has vanished from its main page (a drop-down menu links to a separate Carry Guard website, which still lists Lockton as administrator and a Chubb subsidiary as underwriter).

That doesn’t necessarily mean Carry Guard is out of business, according to Kochenburger.

“The insurance industry is quite large,” he said. ” It’s dominated by big companies who aren’t going to rush to replace Chubb and Lockton, but there are a lot of smaller companies that specialize in unusual risks.”

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